Building Memories

The picture is forever etched in my mind--my son, sitting on our garage steps, protective ear muffs pushing back a shock of sun-bleached, blond hair--his favorite plastic blue hammer in his right hand and a block of wood in his left.

I remember looking over at him as I set up the table saw for our next cut (we were making some industrial-style shelves for our garage from the ready supply of discarded lumber in our new neighborhood) and marveling at how patiently he would wait for me to make my cut, turn off the saw and then invite him over to pound on the board with his hammer while I pounded with mine.

That little boy is now 12.

Over the last nine years, he’s helped me build a tree-house, design and install multiple ice rinks, hang pictures, paint bedrooms, mow the lawn, aerate the lawn, edge flower beds, plant trees, move and replant those trees when we realized we planted them too close to the house, driveway, swing set, etc., and a variety of other odd jobs.

Some jobs we’ve enjoyed. Some jobs we’ve endured. Sometimes we’ve laughed during our work. Sometimes we’ve talked. Sometimes we’ve been quiet, letting our minds wander as our hands kept busy. And, of course, sometimes we’ve fought.

It’s been a learning process for both of us.

Having grown up working next to my father, I forgot that I had already learned all those little tricks that make physical labor easier. Things like, immediately picking up the nail my father dropped when he was working on top of a ladder--as opposed to waiting for him to ask me to do it. Things like, using my legs (and not my back) when shoveling mulch or raking leaves or pushing a wheelbarrow. Things like which way to turn a screw, you know, “Righty tighty, lefty loosey,” and so on.

Of course, the key is you can only learn these things by actually doing them--more than once--and as you do, you realize there’s a deep, fundamental satisfaction that comes from working with your hands and creating something out of nothing.

One of my favorite authors (Phillip Craig) agrees with me. In the majority of his novels, he me makes a point to have his character eat breakfast at the local diner where there’s a short-order cook who is an absolute maestro--not because his food is so good (though of course it is), but because he’s such a joy to watch as he goes about the business of serving customers.

One of my other favorite authors, our own Gary Forster, has noticed this fundamental truth as well--and has come up with a unique way to incorporate the concept into your camp. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but make sure to check out his article--“It’s Hammer Time,” starting on page 10. You can also view it online--with a full complement of pictures--at our new Web site,

Of course, one article does not make an issue, so we’ve filled this issue with lots of other interesting reads. I suggest you grab yourself a hot beverage and find some place quiet to dig in and enjoy.

Till next month…

Rodney J. Auth


Bryan BuchkoComment