Water was always the adversary. Trask could not be near a stream, river, waterfall, or pond without falling or wading in and making a mess. He liked the idea of being able to cross over the water, knowing full well that he would eventually get soaking wet, but it was the chance he took. On his many excursions he always had imaginary friends. He would talk to them, scold them, or boss them around out-loud. Most of the time his makeshift friends were older and much more mature and seemed to know more than he did. (They never seemed to get wet and eventually did whatever he wanted). Of course, it bothered his parents a great deal when he would set the table for his imaginary friends at dinner. “George” was his favorite and constant pal. Outside of his “friends”, his life was relatively solitary and lonely except for the various animals on the isolated farm on Dixie Mountain. The twenty five-acre farm was in a remote valley surrounded by dense forested hills.
His dog, Rusty, always followed Trask and his imaginary friends everywhere until the day Rusty was killed by Mr. Gunderson’s truck when running across the one-lane rutted dirt road after a squirrel. Of course, Mr. Gunderson was appropriately apologetic and sad, but Rusty was still permanently gone. His body mysteriously disappeared quickly. This was Trask’s first brush with death. As disturbing as the freak accident was, it did not prevent further trips even without Rusty. Trask did miss Rusty, but he still had still his “friends” to keep him company. He just couldn’t pet them.
Of course Trask’s Mother always was upset about the expeditions (and she only knew about some of them). Whenever she said, “Stay away from the creek… it’s dangerous… you could drown”, Trask would nod his head up and down and then sneak off doing whatever he was attracted to at the moment. If he was caught, he got the switch. It really stung, but was still worth it for all the subsequent thrills over the horizon.
Sometimes he made a fishing pole from a fallen tree branch as best he could. Usually he had to break off the branches to make a “pole”. Not always easy. He would tie some found string and add a couple worms onto a makeshift hook bent out of rusty wire. This kind of stuff was all over the farm and easy to scrounge. He meandered to what he thought would be the best fishing spot but never-ever caught anything. Still it didn’t squash the idea. It could only improve after all. His favorite memory was fishing with his father at an old ginormous bridge near a logging camp that his Dad worked at part-time. The land was clear-cut with only Douglas Fir stumps surrounding the bridge and fallen branches sticking out of the ground. They would sit on the bridge’s edge, looking over the river, have simple homemade sandwiches and drop baited lines in the water. Trask enjoyed that day and knew his Dad liked it too.