John F. Russell: Labor Day weekend fishing tradition |

John F. Russell: Labor Day weekend fishing tradition

— Traditions can be a funny thing.

We all have traditions whether it's putting up a Christmas tree during the holidays or standing up in the middle of the seventh inning of a baseball game to stretch our arms, legs and sing a couple of verses of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

I've followed traditions my whole life with little concern for how they got started and with little regard for what those traditions mean to my family — or to me. I've always believed that traditions are important, but if someone asked me why, I’m not sure that I could explain.

A few years ago, I decided to pack up the car on Labor Day weekend and take a road trip with my children. We drove from Steamboat Springs, along with my father- and sister-in-law, to Granby, where we met my dad for a weekend away from the distractions of everyday life.

We spent two days fishing, hiking and hanging out in a cabin that my grandfather built with a helping hand from my dad long before me. We had a great time and a tradition was born.

These days, the trip is as much a part of our year as opening presents on Christmas morning, hunting for eggs on Easter or wearing green on St. Paddy's Day.

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Spending the weekend in the cabin means stepping back into a time when electricity was an option, not a guarantee, a time when gas fueled the refrigerator and burning wood in a fireplace provided heat. It means returning to a time when children still played board and card games without complaining about the speed of the Internet.

I still remember going to the cabin when I was a child. I still remember going to sleep surrounded by the warmth of a roaring fire and waking up with the chill of the morning air.

I remember spending my days on the trail or sitting by the lake with a fishing pole in my hand and a snack in the other. I remember pulling fish out of the lake and taking them back that night for dinner. I remember how fun those days in the woods were for me, and today those memories hold a special place in my heart.

That experience was something I wanted to pass on to my children and something I hoped would become the kind of tradition that would create lifelong memories for them. But that’s not what I set out to do. I was simply going fishing.

But traditions are funny things, and the fact is that they can sneak up on you and there is no guarantee that they will last.

So I plan to keep enjoying them while I can, and hopefully someday my children will carry on the tradition in their own way. They may go someplace else for a weekend of fishing, they may choose to add their own twist or change things to fit their own life. That’s OK.

Hopefully they will follow their heart and remember how much fun they had spending a few days following a tradition that doesn't really need to be explained. Hopefully they will have learned that a tradition is something that simply needs to be enjoyed and then passed along.

To reach John F. Russell call, 970-871-4209 or email

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