Father / Son Conundrum: An addition to Wild Rides, Wildflowers

Working on a final version of our manuscript, Sam and I are adding a few entries to the final year. Here’s my latest:

23 August, Provo (by email)

Sam—A most remarkable trip to Logan. I’m still trying to make sense of what happened. On the way home, I stopped in a Salt Lake coffee shop to sketch out the events.


Ben loads his mountain bike into the back of my van, throws in a backpack bulging with a tent, sleeping bag, and cooking equipment, adds a cloth bag full of books and a little duffle bag holding a few clothes, tosses in a bike helmet, and we’re off, headed from Orem to Logan, where Ben will start his year at USU.


Although I’ve been biting my tongue through Salt Lake and past Bountiful, I finally can’t keep myself from asking: “You have plenty of money. Tell me again why you are so intent on camping in the canyon for the semester?”


“I wouldn’t stay up the canyon out of necessity,” Ben answers decisively. “It’s something I want to do.”


“I’m worried you’ll spend so much time surviving that you’ll neglect your chemistry and calculus and American lit.”


“The time I’ll save from social activities in the dorms will more than make up for the lost time.”


Driving through Ogden, I continue to press my objections. “Now I’m worried about your state of solitude. There’s a good chance you’ll become a new Unibomber.”


“No, Dad,” Ben starts, but I break in. “It doesn’t matter what you argue, I’ll just have another worry based on your latest conclusion. Let’s change the subject.”


Ben describes last spring’s bike trip from Logan down to the Bear River Bird Refuge and back. He’s a fine raconteur, and by the time he’s finished, we’re entering Logan. So are lots of other parents and students. I look at their cars jealously, certain they have a house or a room with an address to go to. Ben guides me up the hill, past the dorms, through a quiet, well-cared-for neighborhood, up a road leading to a little cut in the hills north-east of town, and onto a gravel road. A couple of restrooms stand at a trailhead. We drive on up the canyon, and Ben announces that this is the place. He takes out his bike, his bags, and gives me a big hug.


“Take care,” I say, and hand him five twenties. “Security funds. Security for my wandering mind.”


“Thanks, Dad. Take care yourself.”


“I will,” I promise.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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2 Responses to Father / Son Conundrum: An addition to Wild Rides, Wildflowers

  1. Mike Roloff says:

    Oh Gee! Scott Abbott reveals himself to be the standard issue nervous nellie parent! Of course it is far more interesting and healthier all around to be camping out. I do as much of that as I can in Seattle, which has ample parks, and tthe University funded re-constituting prairie http://crosscut.com/2011/07/21/crosscut-blog/20410/A-private-bower-wildness-in-Seattle/


    • Scott Abbott says:

      Amazing what anxieties children raise in a parent. Bet it doesn’t get down to 20 below zero in Seattle. Logan is in a sinkhole that collects cold like nowhere else in Utah. It got dicy as the winter went on.


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