They are as different as they can be in many ways, I suppose. You bring them into the world from the same genetic background, you think you raise them pretty much the same. And then, for some inexplicable reason, you are surprised when it turns out they came here as completely unique individuals. But they are wonderful individuals – beautiful, capable women who work hard at what they do. They’re strong, supportive wives and tender but tough moms. And they are fifth generation Wyoming women. That part requires a little explanation, I suppose.
There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, about a leader in our church who came to visit Wyoming many years ago. He was an old cowboy himself, and known for his sometimes salty language. This visit proved no exception. By the time he got back to church headquarters, he was in deep trouble. The big boss gave him a hard time about his swearing. He took the chastisement calmly and replied, “It’s Wyoming. It’s a hard place. It’s cold and dry and the wind blows all the time. The people are tough, and if you don’t call them SOBs every once in a while they think you don’t love them!”
It is a tough country, and it relentlessly weeds out the weak – even today. But tonight, they don’t have to be tough. They don’t have to be the mom, much less the super-mom. Tonight, they’re just sisters taking their dad fishing. Not one of them could tell you the first time she fished. They all started catching little brook trout not long after they could hold a rod. Each hiked to her first high mountain lake to catch cutthroats by the time she was in second grade. And now, when their own fishing is mostly centered on their little ones, untangling lines and baiting hooks, they set aside one evening every summer to take the old man fishing.
The old man loves every minute of it. We start off with dinner – takeout BBQ that we eat in the pickup on the way up the mountain. As in Norman Maclean’s family, we’re never late for church (well, hardly ever) and we’re never late for fishing. By the time we get to the beaver ponds, it’s beginning to cool off and the mosquitoes are out in full force. Last year they were worse, but we fished just the same. And again tonight, we fish. Not for big fish – these are little wild brook trout that could care less what you throw at them. And we throw it all. You name it, we throw it and still the brookies keep coming. We laugh until we hurt and we fish until we’re done.
We keep a few. We probably should keep more, but nobody needs more fish in the freezer by this time of the summer. We clean them together and eat blueberry cobbler for dessert with our dirty, fish smelling hands. We tell all the old stories and we laugh at all the old jokes. They love this one night a year. They love their daddy. And I love them.