Keeping the Treasure
Bud; that's the only name I ever heard anyone call him. He
was an old widower who lived down the dirt road from our
house, and my mother used to send me down to his place
with a plate of cookies, or a fresh baked apple pie. Mother
said she felt sorry for him since his wife was gone. My father
would go down and help him cut up his winter supply of wood
or fix his fences.
By Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
For me Bud was a fascinating man. He was never was too
busy to talk to a small boy with a big curiosity, and he knew
everything about all the things that young boys are curious
about. He could skin a rabbit, track a deer, catch a trout
with a fly he tied himself, whittle a whistle from a willow twig,
and paddle a canoe down a river without tipping over. He
knew the names of all the birds, the trees in the woods, the
wildflowers that bloomed in the spring, and even the stars
that filled the night sky.
Bud never had any children. My mother said that his wife
got sick right after they got married and he took care of her
for many years before she died. I never heard him talk about
her but he had a picture of her right in the middle of his kitchen
table. There was a chair in the living room draped with a
quilt with the word 'Sweetheart' embroidered across the face.
No one ever sat in that chair.
Bud had one room in the house where he spent most of
his free time. In the corner was his fly tying table where he
spent long winter days tying flies for himself and all his friends.
One wall was covered with book shelves that groaned under
the weight of his extensive library of outdoor books. There
was a locking cabinet with his shotguns and hunting rifles
and a cabinet that contained his fly-rods and reels. Beneath
a large window that looked out over the fields and wood lot
behind his house was a large oak desk; a desk where he sat
everyday and read a well worn Bible.
For a curious young boy this room was a fascinating place,
and I would often sit at his fly tying table and watch him tie
flies. In time I came to learn how to tie flies and use a fly rod
to catch trout with flies I tied myself. He taught me how to
track a deer, where to find grouse in the aspen groves, how
to paddle a canoe, and how to just sit and enjoy the quiet of
a winter woodlot as the snow sifted down between the leafless
boughs of the oaks and maples.
Over the years Bud imparted to me a love and appreciation
of a world filled with all the wonders of God's creation. We
tramped the hills, waded trout streams, watched summer fade
into autumn, listened in hushed wonder as skeins of snow geese
talked their way through the night sky as the icy fingers of the
advancing winter pushed them south. I came to treasure all
that is wild and the blessings of experiencing all its beauty.
The years flew by and all too soon the carefree days of youth
gave way to the demands of life. Those demands took me away
from the farm on that old dirt road, away from the hills and trout
streams, the aspen groves where grouse lived, and the snow
geese filled autumn skies. The last time I saw Bud he was sitting
his big oak desk looking out over the fields, his old Bible lying in
his lap. His smile was warm, but when I said good-bye there
seemed to be a sadness in his warm blue eyes.
Shortly after I returned home I got a call from my mother.
"Bud died last night," she said. "Your father and I were with
him at the last. Said to tell you to keep the treasure. When I
asked him what he meant he just smiled and said you'd know."
~ The Chronicler
From A Journal Archives