Take That Family Vacation!!!

The rocking chair creaked quietly as my knees gently moved back and forth. I was alone on the elevated front porch of our home away from home gazing at the wooded mountainside. The peacefulness of the rocking chair was the perfect backdrop for my fond reflections on our family vacation week in Asheville, North Carolina. Most of the family was staying in a huge three level home built into the side of a mountain in the shade of a canopy of tall skinny pines and huge leafed magnolia trees. Hints of the red earth of North Carolina peeked through the ground covering of pine needles which were slick as snow when walking down the surrounding slopes. A weary smile rested easily on my face. The week’s activity level had been robust.

Oompah and Mimi, our five children and their spouses along with the seven grandchildren were all together – as my preacher Daddy used to say, attendance was brisk.

Look what we did Mimi!!!!

We shared hiking and believe it or not no child or adult was lost.

We enjoyed showing off the grandchildren in matching tee shirts.

We tested the local breweries with outings to the Sierra Nevada Brewery and New Belgium Brewery for dinners.

Sierra Nevada’s brewery in Mills River, N.C., aglow in early morning light. The company was attracted to the Asheville area because it offers access to good water for brewing and the outdoors for employee recreation.
New Belgium Brewery Overlooking The French Broad River

Our grandchildren demonstrated their personalities while “creeking” ,,,Hudson the adventurer, Ezra, the cautious, and Izzy saving every shiny rock reflecting a flash of the brilliant sun as the fast running ice cold water distorted the image of gold.

Thank goodness this was not the creek!

Maybe Creeking Here Next Time?

Everyone enjoyed holding the youngest, including Uncle Seth!

Mimi imported games from Columbus to keep the grandchildren entertained.

Hudson, Izzy, Nolan and Walker gaming and snacking!

When a break in the action occurred the kids created their own private hideaway alcove which the rest of us avoided entering at all costs. NO ADULTS ALLOWED!.

When it rained Elliot took Mimi and Oompah to the sand pit at the downtown museum knowing full well where to spend his time to be out of the chaos!

We participated in the Friday evening drum circle in downtown Asheville.

Ainsley, Ezra and Nolan preparing to bang those drums!

The girls trusted the men with the kids while Ginny enjoyed an intimate baby shower at the Chocolate Shop!

Girls Afternoon Out For Ginny’s Baby Shower! WHERE ARE YOUR CHILDREN?

The pond on the property provided a ton of bluegills and a couple pictures. I wish there were more photo moments but the adults were doing their best to keep the kids from falling off the most perfect fishing dock. Kids, I can edit this post and I beg for more pictures of the grand-kids, Sean, and Ginny holding fish!

Nolan dressed to get it done and he did!

I tried to introduce Ellliot to the family tradition of giving your caught fish a little smooch on the fish lips but he was having none of it!

You Want Me To Kiss That Fish? Are You Crazy, Oompah?

We even found time to present Seth with the Rowe Family Toilet Bowl for his victory in the Rowe March Madness Bracket Challenge. Trophy designed by Mimi!

Cherish It Seth! This year it is March Sadness…

There was so much more activity but best of all there was abundant love and laughter. Nothing rewards parents like the sound of their adult children talking late into the night laughing about life and stories of the past about which Lauri and I remain blissfully unaware. All the while their precious children have fallen into an exhausted sleep after a day of trying to figure out the complicated business of being part of the social structure of seven cousins ranging from 1-9 years of age.

Of course, the last night’s camp fire caused inevitable consternation as parents worried about keeping the children who were roasting marshmallows safe. But what a way to end the week. An open campfire in the mountains of North Carolina. The wood smoke smell which drifted down the hill side reminded us of family camping when our children were little. The smores were wolfed down. The graham crackers and chocolate disappeared as the grand-kids began to chase fireflies in the waning light of a wonderful week.

Bonfire Saturday Night With Smores

Before the campfire was so skillfully lit with flammable liquids, my rocking chair slowed and my reflections deflected to thanks. Thanks to the entire family for their sacrifices in planning and organizing. I could start listing who did what but you all know the old memory is not what it used to be. The truth is we are a great family because we each bring unique gifts which we offer to one another in a spirit of love. That powerful unshakable combination made this a family vacation to remember!

CAREFUL! YOUR GRANDCHILDREN REMEMBER WHAT YOU SAY

Ezra’s First Fish

With the blessings of grand parenting come a few stark realities, not the least of which is that our grandchildren listen to what we say and remember our promises. I was itching to help Ezra catch his first fish about two years ago while visiting Seth, Julie, Ezra, and Ainsley in Asheville, North Carolina. I had packed a tackle box and the family cane pole in the car before hitting the road.

Seth Rowe Seth With The Family Canepole

An internet search revealed some likely fishing spots where an eager bluegill could be caught. When I explained my plan to Ezra, who was 4 years old at the time, he did not share my excitement. Resorting immediately to bribes, I casually mentioned that family tradition required an ice cream stop after a grandchild caught his first fish. Reluctantly, Ezra allowed that he would be willing to join the adventure. Unfortunately, I had not brought any wax worms with me and the neighborhood bait shop had no bait. Bad omen.

Undaunted, Seth, Ezra, and I grabbed a shovel and dug up a few worms from under a tree next to their home. I worried as I inspected our meager take of four small night crawlers knowing I was ignoring my Grandfather’s admonition of sixty years ago: “A real fisherman never runs out of bait!” I should not have been concerned.

Our fishing day was gorgeous. The lake was stunning in its beauty and shocking in its lack of fish. Seeing Seth and Ezra gazing intently into the water trying to catch a glimpse of a fish caused me to reflect on how many bodies of water I have stared at hoping for just a hint of a reason to fish that water.

Seth and Ezra looking for fish Seth and Ezra looking for fish

Of course, I was disappointed when we were skunked. But being with family on a beautiful day in a beautiful spot put the lack of action into perspective.

Oompah and Ezra Quality Time Oompah and Ezra Quality Time

As for Ezra, his spirits were not dampened by the lack of fish. He has such a unique and refreshing way of encountering the world. I remember a day when as a three year old he spontaneously belted out the first verse of “Be Thou My Vision”. Lauri and I were thrilled to listen to this little guy singing as if inspired by our Creator to share this great hymn with the whole world. During every subsequent trip to Asheville, I have begged Ezra for an encore to no avail.

About a year later, Ezra and his parents were in Worthington. I was eager to give Ezra another shot at his first fish. I reminded Ezra of the sweet reward that awaited once he successfully caught his first fish. His interest soared.

Seth, Ezra, his cousin Izzy, Uncle Nate, and I drove to Sharon Woods park where there is a very reliable fish holding bush submerged close to shore. The cane pole was back in action and I had plenty of bait. Seth baited up and I turned on the camera as the bait settled in the water under the bobber. It did not take long.

So grandparents remember, if you promise ice cream be prepared to deliver!

A Year Later With Aunt Ginny A Year Later With Aunt Ginny

The Flying Christmas Tree

Several years ago, at the suggestion of Seth and Julie, our family started a new Christmas tradition. Each year, one of us is to write a memorable family story to share. Seth wrote chapter one which recited the tale of a Mason jar filled with a very special gaseous gift given by Pete to Andy. The details are not PG rated but as the story was read by Seth to the family, tears of laughter rolled down our cheeks.

I have not received permission from Seth to post his story. As he now teaches English to high school students in Asheville, NC, he has a reputation to protect. However, I have rewritten chapter 2 of our Christmas Family Journal as an early Christmas gift to my family and friends. With great love and affection, I present,

The Flying Christmas Tree

Ordinarily, the Rowe household at Christmas was full of cheer, fun, gift giving, churchgoing, and Santa. However, there was a year when Santa was cranky.

Santa Can Be Cranky

Santa Can Be Cranky

At the time of this misadventure, four of our five children had been born. Nate, Andy, Pete, and Ginny were at an age when Santa’s presents under the tree were sleeplessly anticipated. Lauri was also often sleepless at Christmas time for reasons only mothers can fully appreciate.

No matter the season or circumstance, when Lauri was home alone with the kids, I was completely confident they would be safe and loved. And when Lauri and I were both home with the family, an energetic but safe order existed. When she was not there, the ever present possibility of chaos breaking into uncontrollable disaster became a near certainty.

Our first family home was on Hayhurst Avenue in Worthington. As our family grew, the house shrunk. Lauri and I agreed that more space to raise our family was essential. The remodeling doubled the size of the family room and kitchen and added a pantry to hold the food for our large clan. We also built a mud room with lockers and a shower. We convinced ourselves that the kids needed a downstairs shower when coming inside from a muddy or snowy outdoors adventure. As often happens, the mud room idea had more promise than benefit.

The potential for chaos when the kids were “in charge” of me most often turned into a harsh reality when their mom was at the grocery. I often wondered why her “milk runs” took so long, until I realized years later that Kroger represented Lauri’s only opportunity for peace and quiet and possible adult conversation.

On this December evening, supper had been completed and I was happily doing dishes in our brand new kitchen. Christmas carols played in the background. Lauri had a tired look of relief on her pretty face as she headed out the door of the mud room to “pick up some groceries”. “Hurry back, honey!” I encouraged her as a sense of dread drifted into my gut.

The kids were in charge! And they were excited!! The Christmas tree had been decorated and stood tall and proud on the brand new carpet of our remodeled family room.

As was the tradition of my parents, once the tree had been precariously placed in the stand, I had added pancake syrup to the Christmas tree holder. Without hesitation or doubt, I insisted that my family would put into practice my parents’ heart felt understanding that a freshly cut Christmas tree would absorb pancake syrup thereby replacing leaking pine sap.

Syrup Can be Sticky

Syrup Can be Sticky

The goal – keeping the tree fresh longer. I am still unclear where the pine sap went but I needed no scientific evidence to affirm the unassailable validity of the Rowe reality that syrup was better than water.

As Lauri headed out the door, I was in the kitchen finishing the last of the dishes. The kids were playing loudly and cheerfully in the family room. The sounds seemed to be coming from an area near our beautiful Christmas tree.

By that time, our kids had provided Lauri and I enough on-the-job-training for us to know that when the kids became deathly silent there was only one thing to do – WORRY!!!

I Am Not Here

I Am Not Here

Suddenly the silence was deafening. I yelled out from the kitchen “Kids where are you?”

No answer.

“Kids, I mean it where are you – what’s going on?”

No answer.

With great dread, I walked into the newly carpeted family room. Glancing to my right, I was shocked to see the 7 foot Christmas tree on its side. Ornaments were everywhere. The Christmas lights still twinkled as the maple syrup slowly dripped into a 2 foot circle of sticky mess on the brand new carpet.

Tree Down

Tree Down

I am not typically a man who loses his temper or yells. When upset, my actions demonstrate the degree of my anger. Saying nothing as my face began to feel white hot, I surveyed the room. No children. The culprits had escaped.

I slowly walked into the kitchen and opened the newly constructed French doors leading to the deck. Returning quickly to the family room, I called upon my adrenaline assisted strength and grabbed the stricken tree. As I lifted, light cords ripped out of the wall socket. With tree overhead and ornaments jingling, I briskly walked past the pantry and towards the open French doors. Upon arrival, I launched the Yule tide treasure onto the empty snow covered deck.

Take That

Take That

I firmly closed the doors and returned to the kitchen. The kids were silent and hidden. I sat alone, also silent. Until Lauri returned, that part of the evening was truly a Silent, Unholy Night.

Shortly, she entered through the back kitchen door with grocery bags under her arms. She anxiously asked: “How did things go?” She was wise enough to know that “things” did not always go well.

“Fine”, I replied with an edge.

She then walked into the family room. In a remarkably calm voice she asked, “What happened to the Christmas tree?”

“It is on the back deck”.

She walked to the back porch and observed the sad sight of a fallen tree. She said nothing. I mean what could a wife say to make that mess any better?

The next morning, nothing was said about the tree. The kids and I avoided direct eye contact. I went off to work as if nothing had happened. When I returned home that evening, the tree was standing tall and proud in the family room. The syrup stain had miraculously disappeared. Lauri had wrestled the tree from the back porch, redecorated it, and like a guardian angel replaced the tense air in our home with a spirit of the joyful expectancy of Christmas.

Oh Christmas Tree!

Oh Christmas Tree!

As she has always has and continues to do, Lauri created the secure sense that her family would be ok.

Mimi Caring

Mimi Caring

Since that night, maple syrup has been replaced by water in our Christmas tree stand.

As often happens with memorable tales, the flying Christmas tree story added a chapter that spring. As Lauri began to prepare the garden around the deck for spring planting, she discovered several Christmas ornaments -some broken -some not- under the deck.

My children are now raising children of their own. In fact, this Christmas of 2014 will see 4 grandchildren gathering round our solidly standing tree. And so I offer them this parenting advice learned from the flying Christmas tree: Never wish your kids would be quiet when their joyful or not so joyful childish banter or screaming is driving you up the wall. For if silence greets you as a parent and it happens around Christmas, you may discover a cranky Santa in you!

Christmas Dad

Christmas Dad

Family, Friends, Fish and The Fourth

Good Morning

Good morning on this July 4th. On this day we reflect upon the great freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States. The simplest and best is the freedom to enjoy family and friends.

My family has been the greatest blessing in my life. Anyone who knows the Rowe family is aware of what a unique cast of characters we are! I am sure my loving wife Lauri and my wonderful children would tell you they have many interests beyond fishing. However, many of my fondest memories are of times spent together fishing! I love you all so much!

My Mom started fishing at a young age!

A Sunday catch Mom and Grandpa Hessey!

A Sunday catch Mom and Grandpa Hessey!

My Dad helped carry on the fishing fun.

Frank Rowe

Dad and I Dressed To Catch…Not Sure What

Lauri and I have fished together since our honeymoon.

Fishing On Our Honeymoon!

Fishing On Our Honeymoon!

Nate Hands Dirty (00043426@xC4F0B)

Nate Avoids Fish Slime

Andy and I primed and ready in the Keys!

Andy and I primed and ready in the Keys!

Ginny Rowe

Ginny at Indian Lake

Pete Rowe

Pete Catches The Dreaded Rock Fish!

Seth Rowe

Seth Loves Batman and the Cane Pole

 

I confess to having great adventures planned for my future fishing buddies!

Izzie and Oompah have started already!

Izzie and Oompah have started already!

Ezra Rowe

Seth and Ezra looking for fish

 

Hudson Rowe

Huddy Is Always Up For An Adventure

Fishing is an activity which provides a foundation of adventure, success, and failure upon which family and friends can build a lifetime of memories. This picture of Capt. Steve Huff and Lee Mitchell was taken this spring in the Everglades.

Lee and Steve salute a great day on the water!

Lee and Steve salute a great day on the water!

Their friendship is indicative of how time on the water with a fishing rod in hand can lead to a lifetime of memories and a phenomenal friendship. Lee first fished with Captain Huff as Steve’s career was beginning in the Florida Keys over 40 years ago. They have fished together for at least 500 days. Oh the stories they share!

As you reflect upon your freedom, remember that nurturing family and friends is free of charge. The investment necessary is your time. A phone call to friend and family today would be a great way to show your appreciation for your freedom to love your family and friends!

Have a great Fourth of July.

The photo tribute below is my way of saying thank you to all of my fishing friends for a lifetime of memories!

Ralph the golfer (00048013@xC4F0B)

Ralph Walls Could Play Golf

Frank Catchpole - What a name for an angler. We miss you Frank!

Frank Catchpole – What a name for an angler. We miss you Frank!

Chuck Sheley You are one of the best guys I know! You also are a great dresser!

Chuck Sheley
You are one of the best guys I know! You also are a great dresser!

Friends getting ready to fish!

Friends getting ready to fish!

My first fishing friend- Grandpa Hessey

My first fishing friend- Grandpa Hessey

Bob Hamilton and I double on Permit

Bob Hamilton and I double on Permit

Junior, let's go fishing!

Junior, let’s go fishing!

Pedro! That wahoo hides the fact that you forgot your shirt!

Pedro! That wahoo hides the fact that you forgot your shirt!

Larry LaFleur and Guide Dustin Huff with a gorgeous permit

Larry LaFleur and Guide Dustin Huff with a gorgeous permit

Dane McCarthy and I ready to bonefish in Roatan

Dane McCarthy and I ready to bonefish in Roatan

Doc Wight,  I will catch you with a fishing rod in hand sometime in this lifetime

Doc Wight, I will catch you with a fishing rod in hand sometime in this lifetime

Tom Blake

Tom Blake Still Wet After Lure Retrieval

 

Of course, celebrating a great day on the water is essential!

Dinner at Key Colony Inn with Frank Catchpole, Steve Huff, Ron Souder, Lee Mitchell, Sherry Walls, Rich Mealy, and Ralph Walls!

Dinner at Key Colony Inn with Frank Catchpole, Steve Huff, Ron Souder, Lee Mitchell, Sherry Walls, Rich Mealy, and Ralph Walls!

 

Top Ten Reasons To Take Your Family Fishing

Fishing Gave A Father Like Me Something To Give Baby Nate To Do Inside When Mom Is At The Grocery

Fishing Gives A Kid Something To Do Inside When Mom Is At The Grocery

Provides Early Childhood Exposure To The Outdoors

Provides Early Childhood Exposure To The Outdoors

You Can Ask The Kids To Stand Still And They  Will If One Of Them Is Showing Off  A Fish And The Others Want To Share The Limelight

You Can Ask The Kids To Stand Still And They Will If One Of Them Is Showing Off A Fish And The Others Want To Share The Limelight

Your Wife Always Outfishes  You Thereby Introducing You To The Concept Of Humility

Your Wife Always Outfishes You Thereby Introducing You To The Concept Of Humility

Your Dad Can Make A Fashion Statement

Your Dad Can Make A Fashion Statement

They Learn To Ignore A Little Rain In Their Life

They Learn To Ignore A Little Rain In Their Life

And Learn That When They Are Able To Ignore A Little Rain In Their Life The Rewards Can Be Great

And Learn That When They Are Able To Ignore A Little Rain In Their Life The Rewards Can Be Great

They Eventually Learn To Tie On Their Own Lures

They Eventually Learn To Tie On Their Own Lures

Your Kid Gets To Show Off The Sweatshirt You Will Not Let Him Wear Anywhere Else

Your Kid Gets To Show Off The Sweatshirt You Will Not Let Him Wear Anywhere Else

Fishing Gives A Guy Something To Think About Other Than You Know What On His Honeymoon

Fishing Gives A Guy Something To Think About Other Than You Know What On His Honeymoon