Over the River and Through the Woods

I remember when I was a kid we used to sing a song that went “Over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house we go”.  Those are the only words of the song I remember but that is what this story is about anyway.  The articles that I have been writing since I started my blog have been taking me through so many childhood memories.  There is nothing I wanted to do more as a child, young adult and even now than to be a writer.  I have written a lot of amateur poetry and songs over the years, and a lot of essays; but nothing that has yet been published.  Ever since I got into fly fishing through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), I have been doing a lot of reading on the sport and now I’ve been writing articles for this blog letting people know how PHWFF has been helping others and me to heal. During these winter months I haven’t been fishing.  I have mostly been learning how to tie flies and have been reading several books a week about the sport.

Right now it seems like my writers block is gone for a while but who knows how long that will last?  I even started writing a fiction novel recently and have much of the story in my head.  With my PTSD and other disabilities I am 100% disabled and stuck at home much of the time.  I want to start getting out more; especially now that spring is coming.  I need the fresh air and peace of mind.  What is great about this blogging is that I have been able to pull from each of my articles to create a new one.  My two previous articles that made me think of writing this one are “Hook, Line and Finger…” and “Tom McCoy Writes for the Beginner and Doesn’t Pretend to be a Pro”.

In the first article it was just the thought of the cod fish trip and not the hook in the finger.  My father and uncle Larry when I was a kid used to love my grandmother’s fish chowder that she made from cod (cod soup as they called it).  I have to admit I learned to love it as well.  When they would ask for it, she would send them to the store to get the fish. I still remember the kind they always got was in small wooden crate-like box.  I don’t even know if they sell it like that anymore.  That has to have been around 35 years ago.

Tom McCoy in his books mentions so many rivers that I grew up on and near; including the Ausable River in the Adirondack Mountains of New York where 99% of my the Bombard side of my family lives today. My grandmother Lola Bombard lived in what seemed like the top of the world to me on Whiteface Mountain.

The lakes, rivers and even the smallest creeks in the Adirondacks from Lake Champlain to the little brook less than a few tenths of a mile from my grandmothers driveway were always full of fish. I wasn’t into fishing much as a child because I got bored easily, but it was different there.  We caught so many fish that I begged to go every time I was up there. (I’m not one of the 99% of the Bombards that did lived up there.  I lived and still do live almost 4 hours south.)

My sister and I seemed to always sing that song “Over the River…” when going to my grandmother’s house. Actually we sang it on the way to both of our grandmothers house because we did cross rivers and go through the woods, but grandma Lola lived in the definition of woods.

I remember once when I was a teenager I worked with my dad who was a lumberjack.  He sold his good logs to the mills and the rest as firewood. One day we delivered firewood to my high school history teacher Mr. Herbst.  He was disabled but loved to fish.  As far as I know he is still alive and well.  At least I know he was in 2009 anyway when I asked about him at my 20 year class reunion.

Well Mr. Herbst had a picture blown up on his wall.  It may even had been a painting and the scene looked very familiar to me.  My father knew it right away because it was a landmark that he’d seen his whole life.  He told Mr. Herbst that he knew exactly where it was and he couldn’t believe it.  It was such a secluded area of the over 6 million square miles of the Adirondacks.  It was a picture of a roadway that went over a dam near a dam-house. It happened to be Mr. Herbst’ favorite place to fish and you can probably guess; it was on the way to grandma’s house.  I don’t remember the name of it, but I do remember crossing it every time we went to visit her; when driving from the town of Ausable.

It seems like everywhere I go now I pay attention to every bit of water I see.  There is no reason to ever travel outside of New York State unless I really want to.  I can fish a new spot everyday within the state for the rest of my live and never explore even a fraction of the fishing holes available.  My favorite places although are up there in the Adirondacks; especially that little brook that was only a few tenths of a mile from my grandmother’s house.  It was a pretty dry and tiny brook near the road at the steel deck bridge that went over it, but my uncle Larry showed us a place almost a 1/2 mile into the woods where he found a beaver damn and it was loaded with fish.  We used to take a whole mess of them back to grandma’s little three room cottage where running water meant running up to the spring to fetch it (even in the early 1990’s); and she would cook them up in a way where the bones came out with one pull of the tail.

Living so far from my grandmother Lola, I never got to see her as much as I do my

My grandmother Lola Bombard (1920-2006)

maternal grandmother Catherine Squillante; but I loved her just the same.  Since she has been gone I haven’t been up to the Adirondacks more than once or twice for family reunions.  I hope I can start getting up there more, but I kind of doubt it due to my disabilities and inability to drive long distances.

I sure do miss my family up there.  Especially my late father, grandma Lola, aunts, uncles and cousins.  I pray that God is with them and that I see them soon.  Who knows, maybe their will be beautiful mountains like the rolling Adirondacks in heaven and they will live there for eternity.


Author: Charles Bombard @ Healing on the fly

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