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

Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University, 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I'm Director of the Program in Integrated Studies and former Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade), and translations of a book by Austrian author Peter Handke and of a catalogue of an exhibit called "The German Army and Genocide." More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as a watershed scientist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a corrections officer, as university students, and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett and our yellow dog Blue. Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s