By Ada Brownell
Melodious laughter and the buzz of conversation halted. My brothers' dogs shot out of camp like horses at the starting line. Snarling at the barking animals was a grizzly.
Joe and Everette jumped out of their lawn chairs and shot after their dogs.
"Tippy Get back here!" Everette shouted
"Patches!" Joe yelled.
Joe and Everette, back from catching and cleaning fish, never thought about a hungry bear picking up the scent from their catch.
The hearts of women in camp shot to their throats, fearing one of the men would be attacked. Prayers shot upward between the wives urgent screams calling their husbands back, even louder than the men called the dogs.
Joe picked up a big tree branch, intending to fight the bear. He neared the animal, which was growling, mouth wide open, teeth shining, but the animal suddenly turned and ambled away.
"The bear had better sense than we did," said Everette later. "But with one swipe, that bear would have finished the dogs."
Fishing always was a large part of our reunions.
Joan and I decided we'd like to go fishing and hopped into one of the boats with the guys so they could bait our hooks. Not long afterward, Joan got one. She's sort of like me. Being the youngest of eight, I never had a pet in my life, so I was afraid of anything that wiggled. Well, Joan obviously was frightened of touching her catch, and she swung the end of her pole toward me. The fish flipped back and forth nearly slapping me on one side and then the other. I leaned backward and almost fell out of the boat.
Everette tried to teach me how to cast on the Yellowstone River.
"It's simple. Just do it like this," he said, throwing my line into the tumbling water. "Oh, I already got a fish," he added. "Reel it in."
He kept demonstrating casting, and each time a fish caught the bait. I became proficient at reeling trout in, but never did learn to cast correctly.
During some reunions we swam in lakes, pools, and enjoyed the water, but not in Yellowstone. Some years we were fortunate the snow melted in the park before we gathered near Father's Day.
We played volleyball, Frisbee, table games, hiked and went sightseeing.
Kids painted rocks, played hide and seek, shared their toys and imagination with their cousins and other relatives. They also participated in many things adults did. A few could catch fish better than you know who.
At one reunion, I decided to let our youngest son, Jaron, fish in one of those ponds where you pay by the inch for the fish you catch. He had never been fishing and since I couldn't coach, I figured it would be a miracle if he caught one.
I stood by the lake talking with relatives and turned around. He had a whole pile of trout that were about 18 inches long. When I got my eyes back my head, I discovered my brother-in-law helped him.
I gulped, paid for the fish, but didn't know what to do with them. That reunion my husband couldn't get off work. I didn't know how to clean them. So, I gave the trout to my stepmother, who was delighted at the gift. Didn't take her long to get them in the little freezer she had in her camper.
Oh, what good times! What great memories.
©Copyright Ada Brownell June 17, 2014