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  • Shari Goddard Shambaugh

Fishing for Memories


I grew up in a family that loved to go fishing. We didn't ocean fish, as these two young cousins are doing, but explored the lakes and rivers of my home state of Oregon. Our favorite spot was Little Lava Lake, the headwaters of the Deschutes River. At times we caught our limit, and used the fish to supplement our food supply. Fresh trout over an open fire is a meal that rivals anything I've ever had in a fine restaurant (actually, almost anything cooked over an open fire while camping does that). So for me, an image of children fishing is iconography of my own childhood.


Downstream from the Little Lava Lake, the nascent Deschutes River widens into what we called "The Lagoon." It was a difficult and marshy walk to get there, but once there it felt like a world apart. My dad knew where the springs were, so we drank water cold and fresh as it entered and fed the river. Years later we returned there, my parents, my husband and my small children (youngest still in a pack on her daddy's back). Due to beetle kill, the path in was rugged, like trying to climb through a pixie sticks game played by giants. It was

exhausting and hot, but we stubbornly persevered until we finally arrived at the lagoon. It was still beautiful, filled with the magic of isolated beauty and the golden memories of a happy childhood. My children wandered through my Eden and I was content.


A few years ago I returned again with my husband like a salmon drawn to a birthplace. We found the area cleared of much of the fallen trees, and so arrived more easily at the lagoon. As we had before, we found the privacy to strip down and swim in the cold, clear water that has flowed through my life since my earliest memories.

No fishing that time, but a basket of joyful memories new and old in a place that for me will always evoke a sense of happy nostalgia and adventure. Those summer camping trips are the headwaters of my life of adventure. And every time I see children fishing, I smile and am happy to see them setting off in their own stream of childhood magic.


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