By Karl Terry: PNT managing editor
I tried to get out the door without him, but he’d seen me reach for my hat and he wasn’t having any of it. My old dog was demanding to go on the walk with me.
We hadn’t walked since his seizures in the fall. He just hadn’t been up to it physically. After a setback in January he has steadily improved though.
I gave in, hooked the leashes to both dogs’ collars and off we went. I guess he’d just decided he wasn’t dead yet and he was going to live life as fully as he could.
His attitude on that walk this past week reminded me of a dear hunting and fishing buddy who left this Earth much too soon. I remembered him while we walked.
Lee Lindsey grew up in the mining town of Park City, Utah, and hunting and fishing was a natural part of his life. When I came to know him he was a wheezing, worn-out 50-something potash miner living in Artesia.
On a visit to Artesia, as soon as he learned I was a fisherman he immediately ushered me into his den where he tied trout flies in the evening.
He tied all year and sold the flies to various Colorado fly shops in the summer.
Money he earned tying flies financed at least one summer fishing trip to Colorado and when he had an especially good year, an elk hunt in the fall.
I eventually made it up to Colorado while he was there on a fishing trip. I’d always wanted to learn to fly fish and Lee was a master at dry fly fishing on spring creeks.
He got me started but I don’t guess I’ll ever be as good as he was.
For several years we planned trips of all sorts, bass, walleye and crappie fishing at Ute and Conchas lakes; deer, goose, duck, pheasant and quail hunting everywhere.
Soon after I met him his health started downhill and eventually he wasn’t able to work. It didn’t stop him from wanting to get outdoors though. I learned when to go slow and when to let him do his own thing and he appreciated that.
He told me once after a tough day in the field, he had come to the point where he had to decide if he was going to give up being outdoors and stay at home. He said he had decided he was going to continue getting out and doing what he could. If he didn’t he didn’t think life would be worth living.
His wife Mary had always gone with him to Colorado to fish every summer but once his health failed she told him she wouldn’t go off in the woods with him because she was afraid he would die if he followed another creek above timberline. Secretly, he would have liked it that way and she knew it.
She called me and told me he wanted to go to Colorado bad and asked if I would take him. I couldn’t turn him down.
We fished, camped and had a great time just the two of us. I had the biggest trout of my life break off shortly after a heart-stopping jump that we both got to see.
As we sat up by the campfire at night and talked he told me over and over again how much fun he was having and how great it was to be with a good friend.
Every morning I got Lee’s hearty camp greeting: “Good morning glory! Did you see the rain dear?”
When the trip was over, as Lee always did, we took a cooler full of fish home with us. I took home one of the best memories of my life.
It turned out to be Lee’s last Colorado fishing trip and I got to share it with him.
If the old dog wants to go on the walk with me this week that will be alright too. I’ll walk a little slower if I need to and we’ll both take Lee’s advice to keep getting out there and doing whatever we can, as long as we can.
Karl Terry is managing editor at the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481, ext. 33 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org