As Valentine’s Day slips by and spring is just around the corner, I think of the many loves I’ve been afforded to know.
Our walk in life allows us many paths to wander. We see things that will cause our senses to stir within, and we fall in love.
Love has no boundaries, as we all know; these passions that take over our minds and bodies define our lives in what we enjoy doing. As the game of golf each spring takes us hostage, so do the many other hobbies we so love such as gardening, camping, hiking and fishing.
As the saying goes, whatever floats your boat. Our desires swell to a bursting point and take over our thought.
As for Rich Lucas, I’m a creek or “crick” guy, and have been since birth.
I was born to run the watersheds of Belmont County ,and as long as I can remember back, Captina Creek has been my jewel.
It all began in the mid-’50s as a weekend picnic, as son like father, Dad would gather his gear while Mom fixed up some eats and off we would go in that dusty old car and head for the south fork of Captina on State Route 26.
It was a long drive then from Colerain through Barton to St. Clairsville.
Out old 40 to Morristown to the beginning of 26.
South through Bethesda as we all leaned forward to see the giant tree that grew through the porch at Epworth Park.
The trip seemed a lifetime long, but eventually we arrived at 26 and 148, the north fork of Captina that runs down from Barnesville.
At the stop sign back then was a beautiful log tobacco drying house on the left side. It was torn down years ago for a road widening project.
As we chugged up the hill, I began to squirm because I knew we were just a few miles from our destination.
Soon we began the descent down to the south fork of old Captina, a steep hill that seemed so scary back then. At the base of the hill was a hairpin turn that Dad said was so sharp you could look back and see your license plate number.
We kids would laugh, Mom would smile that beautiful smile and turning left on a dusty narrow farm road with grass growing in the middle that took us to what they called the “school lands.”
Back in those old days it was a closed-down ship road that at one time ran the entire hollow. Our dad, being the urban mountain man that he was, had fished this creek many times over the years.
Born in 1929, Dad seemed to know everyone, everywhere and knowing Alice and Bill Truax up on the hill, we would stop and tell Bill we were going down to have a picnic.
Bill would say, “Be careful and clean up your mess” — as we always did.
Once again we kids leaned forward to watch Dad straddle the ruts and rocks, and within minutes we pulled up on a gravel beach, and there it was, my beloved Captina.
I think Dad beat us out of the car every time, and within a minute or two with fishing pole in hand, down the old path he would go. We knew Dad would be back in a few hours, and we also knew that he would stay out of the creek for at least a half mile down stream to not spook the smallmouth bass. He always fished upstream, an old Indian trick he said, to not stir the gravel.
Mom would spread her blanket on the sandy beach, and we would hear her voice over the gurgling water to be careful and stay in sight, which we seldom did.
This is when old “Tracker Luke” went into mountain man mode. As the girls played in the shallows, I would begin to turn over rocks. Big rocks, small rocks, flat rocks any rock that would hide a snake or crawdad, as we called them.
Large “crick spiders” were always present, but I had no love for them and avoided them like itch weed.
I remember the sparkle of the water as the noon day sun warmed our backs.
I would chase the girls with a crawdad, and a “crick trip” just isn’t a crick trip without finding a nice fat water snake.
I would pin one down and grab his tail as he struck time and time again at his captor, while all the time watching my step back to the beach to scare the daylights out of my mom and sisters.
Mom would yell as the girls screamed and even then, I knew my limits and soon turned him loose as he slithered away to deep waters.Those days never lasted long enough.
Dad would return with a stringer full of bass, lunch would be served, another dip in the crystal clear water and up the road we would go.
Those memories will dance in my head forever. Days spent doing the things you love, whether it be golfing, boating, hiking or rolling over rocks, these are the days my friends.
These are the days that anchor our soul to this Earth and as we grow and change, our bodies weaken and frail, nothing can take away all these memories we so cherish.
Mom passing on in 1990 and Dad a ripe old age of 92, a day hardly ever goes by that I can’t see her in the sun on that blanket getting a well-deserved rest, and Dad coming around the turn in that creek with a big, content smile on his face as he clutches his catch.
There’s nothing on this Earth I love more than taking a quiet walk on the shores of Captina, a place where spirits dance in the sunlight and the moon paints shadows on its banks. Love the things you love to do, for they will not last forever!