Outdoor Report: He couldn’t color and I couldn’t tie my shoes

February 29, 2020

Outdoor Report: He couldn’t color and I couldn’t tie my shoes

By Mark Platt, MCP/OCP outdoors writer.

The Watson Country Outdoor Report is a presentation of the Watson Auto Group, selling Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Fiat in Ludington, Manistee, Benzie and Rockford. “Every season there’s a reason to visit Watson Country. For more information, visit watsoncountry.com.

The outdoors brings people together.  When I joined the Media 31 Group team I wasn’t sure how to approach this new opportunity.  Should the articles be informational? Should the articles be about local outdoor opportunities and businesses? Should the articles be stories that have the outdoors as part of the story?  The answer is yes to all. 

In kindergarten, there was a kid who lived around the corner from our house.  This was 49 years ago and he is now my longest friend. The first time we were together was in class and he was crying during class. I remember looking at him strangely because I didn’t understand why he was upset.  It turned out that he couldn’t stay between the lines while coloring. My thought, “seriously, how hard is it?”

For reasons that no one condoned, I suggested to him “let’s leave” and we left the school. Keep in mind, this is 1971 so the world was different.  One thing that wasn’t different, we ended up in a lot of trouble for that ill-advised decision. While skipping school my shoe came untied. The problem…I didn’t know how to tie my shoes, so now guess who was looking at me strangely and saying “seriously, how hard is it?”  

There were times when he convinced me to let the air out of my bike tire because I ran over a chestnut and if I let all the air out it wouldn’t go flat. Somehow my dad never understood that decision and I ended up walking for a few weeks after that choice. There were many nights where we would pick nightcrawlers out of the yard,  get up early, and head to Canfield Lake to fish our hearts away. It was a three-mile bike ride and on one of those trips, I dropped the nightcrawlers in the middle of Maple Street. It wasn’t a big deal until someone’s truck came along and squished them. We didn’t do very well fishing that day. Finally, there was the time where I thought I was going to make an awesome cast (and oh I did) right into the seat of his jeans. You know…49 years later that is still funny!

Over the next 49 years, there were many other ill-advised decisions, but that is how memories are made. Life happened and it wasn’t always easy. There were difficulties associated with moving, having our hearts broken by a girl and all the other difficulties that come with being an adult.  The difficulties are what kept us together. We sought advice from each other and we lent each other an ear. Almost without exception, these moments took place in the woods or on the water.

He was more of a hunter and I gave it a try. It was way too easy. He put me in his blind, I read a book and when the first deer came by, bang it was over.  Although I swear that spike horn was an eight-point when I first saw him! The outdoors brought us together, the outdoors kept us together and the outdoors keeps us together.  Forty-nine years later, he probably can color and I know how to tie my shoes.

Mark Platt is an avid outdoorsman, especially in the world of fishing. At his day job (and night job, plus weekend job), he serves as superintendent of Hart Public School.

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