News From The Woods - December, 2004


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published December, 2004

"Letter To Robert"

Dear Son,

Well, it seems our server crashed and we lost about six months of my "News From The Woods" articles. And to make matters worse, our backup data was also corrupt. For the most part I don't even remember what I wrote about. However, I DID find the original images I used for this years letter to you, so I have posted them here just to remind you of your activities throughout the year 2004.

Being a "critter boy", I think it is safe to assume you spent a great deal of your spare time outdoors and exploring the world around you. You love discovering a new bug or critter to examine. Of course you take the really interesting ones straight to Mommy so she can shreik and tell you not to "bring that thing inside this house". You always wear your "innocent face" but we all know you live to push Mommy's buttons so for the most part it's okay. The turtle population in our neighborhood has grown dramatically because whenever we are driving and spot one crossing the road we always stop and bring him home for you to examine. You are very humane about your turtle collection, as you never keep one longer than a day and always turn them loose in the back yard within 24 hours. Not without first painting our zip code on his shell with red nail polish, however.........

And don't forget about our trip to Florida in the fall. It was my 40 year high school class reunion at military school and I wouldn't have attending without taking you so I could show off my pride and joy. You were such a fine young gentleman and blended right in with the crowd. Mommy and I were so proud of the way you acted around my old school chums. You impressed everyone with your manners and bright personality. I heard "a chip off the old block" many, many times during that week. I beamed with great pride each time I heard that phrase.

We stayed at "our" motel on Treasure Island and spent many hours hanging out at the pool. Here at home, on the lake, you have to wear your life vest at all times even though you are becoming a very good swimmer and feel right at home in the water. However, the first day we spent at pool side you were a little reluctant to jump right in without your ever-present vest. I swam right there with you for that first day until you got used to the idea of no life vest. I taught you how to tread water and hold your breath whenever you needed to rest your arms and legs. By day two your motto was "no fear" and you swam all by yourself while I did my daily work chores on my laptop, thanks to the WiFi internet connection thoughtfully provided by our motel.

We picked up a disposable and waterproof camera at Wal Mart and got some great underwater pictures of you playing and swimming with your sister and her family who came to visit from Orlando for a couple of days. I'm afraid we totally dominated the swimming pool for our entire stay, but none of the other guests seemed to mind. Most of them were retirees and preferred to lounge around the pool in the sun and watch you happily swim and cavort in the water. I think you became their extended family as you won over their hearts one at a time. By the time our vacation was over you were getting patted on the head by everyone and we had several extra sets of eyes making sure you were always safe.

And let's not leave out the beach! We spent many hours walking the beach and finding treasures offered up by the sea, while Mommy spent her time in her natural habitat….. soaking up the sun as the waves lapped at her feet. You and I collected dozens of really cool sea shells and you spent an entire evening choosing just the right shell for your schoolmates back home, making sure there was a shell for each student in your class, and saved the prettiest one for Ms. Mell, your teacher. No wonder your grades are so good! You've already learned how to manipulate people!

We spent our second week of vacation near your sister and family in Orlando. Again, I chose our motel based on how good their pool was. The place we stayed in Orlando had TWO pools, so there was plenty to go around. Remember how this pool was heated and when you first got in it felt just like getting into the hot tub at home? The entire family went to Universal Studios and you got to get your picture taken with Spiderman. That 3D Spiderman ride was SUPER and I got enough video of the day to remember for years! We even got to go to the Hard Rock café and Daddy managed to get you and I up to the "special Beatles room" which is usually reserved for VIPS and rock stars.

On the way back home we took a detour and spent the night next to the USS Alabama in Mobile. The next day we spent the entire time exploring that huge battleship and learning all about its role in World War Two. We also got to tour the inside of the USS Drum, a Navy submarine. You practically ran through it while Mommy and I had to duck and squeeze through all the compartments. By the time we got back home we needed another vacation just to get over the last one! But it was good to get home to our own family and our dogs. And do you remember the surprise waiting for us when we got home? Both of our other sons and their wives completely cleaned and redecorated our kitchen! It was like going into someone else's house. What a wonderful surprise and Christmas present!

You have done very well in school this year, and are growing up into such a fine young man. We are so very proud of you. Don't ever change and continue to be such a caring and positive influence on those around you. With each year it gets a bit easier to relate to you on "adult" terms, and so I cannot wait for this next year to see what you have in store for us.

We love you,
Mom and Dad.

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