Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Unconventional Wisdom of Uncle Dutch

Every year before the first snowflakes fall in the Cascades at the onset of autumn, my friend Steve and I strap up our hiking boots and pitch tents in the abandoned camp sites of Mt. Hood to sit around the fire and trade stories of the past year.
These tales and yarns have spawned some weird nights… from rummied-up money-demanding  caretakers appearing out of the darkness to surprise downpours leaving us sleeping in our car trunks… we never know what will happen when civilization is left behind and the wilderness breached.
Of course, this year we were lucky enough to take our daughters into the woods for a night around the campfire.
We’d talked about having a night like this for many years…and I miss having these traditions with my family and friends immensely.  
Steve is known to my daughters as “Uncle Dutch.”  A moniker very curiously and shamelessly procured, I might add… but it fits and despite it being a few years and a great deal of kid-growing since we had last met, a relationship of good humor and mutual trust was quickly formed.
Steve and I have been around the world together… from our years teaching in Korea to meeting up in St. Peter’s Square in Moscow and backpacking Europe …to even driving through the Kansas cornfields with Rolf… Uncle Dutch never disappoints with his usual perspective on life, his quick wit, and unrepentant irreverence.  
This year was no different… as Uncle Dutch arrived in the woods ready to settle scores and lay demons to rest.
Old worn-out trinkets void of memory… pages from books who’s symbolism was dead…childhood gifts, shoeboxes of letters, pictures and Polaroids who’s warmth had waned … all pieces of our past that called for sacrifice upon the pyre… We stayed up late, put the girls to bed… and burned our past.
We should all be so lucky to have friendships like this… people we have known all our life… people are  our living memories… they help us let go and move forward to what’s new.  It was a wonderful night staring up at the stars… feeling the flames surge and moving toward the unknown.

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