The back of my truck is a mess. It’s always been that way except for the mucking out every two years or so. And if the measure of a man is his vehicle (I really don’t believe this premise by the way) I might be a mess, too. Actually, that is a confirmed status, let’s not be disingenuous about it.
My truck can carry, and often does, all the gear required for a couple of outdoor interests and disciplines and it wouldn’t be uncommon to find: fly rod tubes and leaky waders, a dog cage and three pairs of boots in the bed (wading, snake, and rubber), spent shotgun shells, a bird vest, deer grunt… The sad part is not that this occurs but how much space it requires as I often to have move a few things around just to get the boy or my wife in the truck with me. My wife has learned to accept my truck and its nuances just as she has learned to accept me. But let’s make it clear that she doesn’t condone the manner in which I keep it.
There are momentos in there, too. They lie within the chaos but I know them when I see them. There is a turkey feather found in a field that will make it to my tying desk eventually, there is a .410 shell in there that my boy shot his first squirrel with, there is an old drop point trout and grouse knife that my father gave me when I was about ten years old and you also might find Delorme maps for about ten different states in there. Unfortunately, they are deep in the clutter of the truck and probably closer to the stale French fry from fast food that was dropped on some road trip a couple years ago.
The years go by quickly but the evidence remains. Tackle from the past carries some sort of cosmic energy that keeps its persuasiveness even thought the material properties have begun to decline. The thought of fishing with that old fly or lure might carry more of the idealism of positive angling hope rather than the premise of actually attracting a fish in the water. It may have become brittle, dry-rotted, or simply off-color (kind of like me now that I think about it) but that old tackle seems to carry the emotional weight of fishing trips or partners of the past. And therein, lies the true kernel of hope and memory.
Theresa’s parents started her fishing career early by weekend long camping trips at a young age; her and her brother were unceremoniously loaded into the car and driven to car camp at many distant and exotic locations around Kentucky and North Carolina. Her folks weren’t too worried about things that might drive modern parents nuts who raise their kids by the dreaded “helicopter syndrome” (ticks, rocky mountain spotted fever, copperhead snakes) and while she ran amok and amidst these things, she learned the simple joy of a line in the water. Those early experiences often define who we are at a very base level and lay the groundwork for who we might become and that is why my truck clutter might be important-even though it does occasionally smell.
A few years ago we came across and old Plano tackle box from the 70’s, it was full of crappie jigs, rooster tails, and mepps style lures that were used by her parents and she could identify both her father’s and mother’s favorite; all of them had degraded over time (except for some of the natural hair mepps) but these old lures were treated like childhood treasures or new-found gold. They ride in the truck now, tucked away in a side pocket, next to an old school hunter’s alcohol stove (tin can, isopropyl alchohol, and a roll of tissue paper) and we occasionally bring them out to look at them. My son knows what they are, and even though we haven’t spoken it out loud, he recognizes the importance of keeping those things around.
There are some things in there that might not resonate with him until later:
* 1.5 pairs of gloves
* 20 + shotgun shells of various gauges (both types: spent & re-loaded)
* road side tool kit
* coil of aircraft cable for the occasional tow or securing of a treestand
* raincoats of various sizes (probably one for each of us)
* grease pencil for metal work
* secret stash of tippet/leaders/flies from past excursions
* dirty or clean socks (not sure which is which at this point)
* multiple archery releases
* chapstick/ half used water bottles/etc…
Perhaps I have just gotten older or maybe I’ve become a hoarder but I know that when traveling in my truck I can pretty much be ready for almost anything that comes down the road and that might be the truest reflection of myself as viewed through my vehicle. There has been more than one occasion that when, traveling in my wife’s rig, I thought to myself, “now, I would have that if we were driving my truck”.
Maybe that’s why my waders are leaky. Maybe that’s why I never seem to have enough shells in the dove field or have forgotten my slump-busting fly on a fishing excursion but, in the end, I love my old truck and the way that it’s kept. It’s dirty but reliable (kind of like me, too).