That’s us up there, just under where it says, “Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah.” I’m the one in the hat, watching. Nick’s rowing. We’re both intent about our business, which is as it should be. That’s pretty much all I have to say about fatherhood, as far as this picture is concerned. Get a pond. Get a rubber dinghy with an oar. Get going.
The pond doesn’t have to be particularly large. This one isn’t. It belongs to a friend, who made it. Dug it out with a tractor, then planted in and all around it. Long way across, it’s maybe forty yards. It’s got lilies, catfish, and, somehow, real leaches. For me, it’s a piece of heaven. For Nick, it’s the Mississippi River. He’s heading for Tom Sawyer’s island.
A few more complexities, not pictured:
First, Mom, also known as Nora. She’s on shore, nearby. Also nearby, the ghost of my own dad, looking on. And, I suppose, his dad. And so on.
A brief digression about Tom Sawyer’s island (the one at Disneyland): my dad took me there when I was four. We came to Injun Joe’s cave, now renamed something piratish, and wandered in. If you’ve ever been there, you know the dark maze of passageways. To a four-year-old, it’s a forbidding place. One wrong turn and you’ll never find your way out.
Somehow my dad and I got though it alive. What I didn’t know, of course, is that every side tunnel doubled back to the main. You can never get lost in that cave. It’s a good plan for raising a child. Allow the experience of risk, and don’t let on how you’ve made it safe.