Today’s the day to pick on Dad

I know my dad didn’t mean to steal the thunder from Mother’s Day by having his birthday fall so close to Mom’s special day, but that’s what happened. So in honor of Dad and his inadvertent upstaging of Mom, it’s time to pick on him mercilessly.

Happy birthday to my dad today. I won’t tell you how old he is, but I’m his youngest kid, and I’m 40. Just rest assured he’s a lot older than that.

I feel that I have to use today’s post to thank my dad for all the wonderful things he taught me about the outdoors. For instance, he gave me an appreciation for the wild things that live where people don’t, and he taught me that I can get even more enjoyment from them if I know their names. Every wild thing. He used to quiz me on the wildflowers we saw on our hikes, and I still know a fringed gentian from a scarlet globe-mallow.

And he didn’t stop at wildflowers. He taught us the names of all the plants and animals we saw. When I started hunting, he made me identify ducks before I shot at them. That was handy back in the days we had points for specific duck species, and you couldn’t go over 100. It was also helpful for hunting ducks on the river behind his house.

Even though it was legal to shoot wood ducks, he absolutely forbade the shooting of woodies on his place. But one morning while we were hunting down there, a couple of ducks came in from the left, and Dad opened up.

He missed them both, then he turned to me and asked me, “Why didn’t you shoot?” I informed him the birds he had just fired three shots at were his precious wood ducks. He could have said it was some sort of a fatherly test, but he didn’t. He owned up to his mistake. He just laughed and said, “Oops.”

I could tell a whole lot more stories about my dad, but I’ll give him a break. He may have taught me about the outdoors in some rather unconventional ways, but his teachings were always effective. Happy birthday, Dad. We should go fishing.