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Bobby Bass

Edna Johnson Passes away

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Edna Johnson a fixture for fifty years at the Forestry camp at the end of the Arrowhead Trail passed on to bigger fishing waters last Friday. Edna and her husband greeted friends, family and tourists fishing the BWCA from there tent camp for better then fifty years. I was lucky enough to know them and now Edna has passed on to be with her husband, Gus. This was written a few years ago, I thought it fitting that she and Gus be remember again.

Just back from a visit to one of my friend's uncles. We spent a few days at uncle Gus's and aunt Edna's a couple who have spent over 70 years together and still talk! I say that because they seem to be one person. They finish each other sentences and sometimes they don't even do that. They will start to say something then just drift off. They know what they are going to say and just stop talking, leaves the rest of us just kind of hanging. Well anyway they are a few lakes away from Lake Iwanttobethere, used to be a few days by dogsled then just a half a day by snowmobile and now just an hour or so by car. When we were young we would go to their cabin then paddle back down to Lake Iwanttobethere, it would take us a few days and we were never much in a hurry when we did it. I hate them plan trips where you have to be here by such and such a time and then here by such an such time. That is no way to really enjoy the outdoors. You should just get out and when you have had enough you come back in. You might run out of food or the weather might turn bad on ya, that is what makes you head back in. Not cuz you have to go back to work or mow the lawn.

As I get older I wish I had taken my time a little more when I was younger, to be a kid again. Not to be young and have to go through school and meet girls and all that stuff. But them three month long vacations, those I could enjoy. Sure there might be a few chores to do but think of the free time. I don't ever remember getting a speeding ticket on my way fishing. Sitting out in front of Ma and Pa's grocery and sipping on a bottle of pop. No rush, no hurry. Last day of school and knowing that you were going to have three months before you had to get up in the morning. But if they were biting in the morning that was no problem getting up and being on the shoreline as the sun started to pop up over the tree line. Sure now I have trucks and boats and all the tackle I want. If I see a new rod or reel I just buy it. I can plan on a fishing trip to places I could never go to when I was young. But isn't that the best part... Wanting to go somewhere you have never been before, catching that fish that you have never caught before. Walking the walk you never took before. Awe if I was young again I think I would have taken more time to enjoy having time.

Maybe that is what we do when we get older, we start to slow down and enjoy ourselves. I don't have to go to Brazil bass fishing, I have Mr. Big just a few minutes away from my cabin. I am pretty sure that I will never go to Brazil but I know that when the ice melts I will be at Mr. Bigs doorstep flicking a new secret bait to try and catch him. I also know that I will enjoy every moment of it. So back to Edna and Gus, he is a lucky guy, He figured out the take your time and enjoy life part a long time ago. I have tried to follow his advice on taking it slow. All those things that the old timers say do have a lot of truth to them. You know the " Do it right the first time" and " Don't put things off" My neighbor Elmer from time to time will make the trip up to Gus's to go lake trout fishing. You get the two of them together and it is just time to sit back and listen. The old days as they call it. When they,, Well I am sure you have heard it from your grandparents of how hard it was way back when. But do you ever listen to what they say? They are not really complaining they are just telling you how it was. For the most part I have a feeling that they would not change anything.

We arrived up at Gus's just after dark, we had already had supper so we exchange handshakes and the coffee was out. In a flash Edna had some hot buttered rolls out and we retired to the living room to talk about fishing plans for the next day and to watch the stars appear out over there lake as they call it. Since we were going to have an early morning we were in bed by 8........ 4 am the next morning I wake to the gentle sounds of chimes.. With my eyes open in the faint light coming through the window I could make out my friend Jerry in the bed next to me looking at me and smiling. It brought me back to the very first time I was ever at Edna's We were in the same downstairs bedroom. I heard the soft ringing of chimes and Jerry told me that Edna would walk through the house ringing the chimes to wake everyone up. Better then having someone pound on your bedroom door. We took turns taking a quick cool shower and headed out to the dinning room. The room was bright in light as every light downstairs was on. Rich smells came from the kitchen. Gus was already seated at the table along with a few other uncles and Jerry and I took our place. This was to be my first real breakfast. I had been warned by Jerry the night before that Edna makes a great breakfast. Licking my fingers after the 3rd hot butter bun I was looking forward to it.

There were several platters on the table with lids and you could just see a tad of steam rising from each of them. Edna made an entrance with a ham already sliced up in half inch slabs. She placed it in the center of the table and asked what we were waiting for. With that the lids came of the platters. A bowl of scrambled eggs, another of fried eggs. Several jars of homemade jellies. A jug of orange juice and a pot of coffee. I joking said "no toast?" Just then Edna came through the door with a wooden platter of hot bread just from the oven. If I have a weakness it is for homemade bread. Jerry had told Edna and she set the platter and a bowl of butter with in easy reach. This was not breakfast, this was like a thanksgiving meal. After the longest breakfast I ever had we finally started to gather gear and load the sleds for the ride out onto the lake. I made a point of thanking Edna for the best breakfast I ever had. She asked what I took in my coffee and told her I was not that fond of coffee, she patted me on the back and said she would pack something for me.

I don't remember how we did fishing that day but I do remember the cooler, after being on the ice for only a few hours Gus announced that he was hungry again. It didn't take any coaxing for the uncles to haul the big blue cooler over to the fire and flip the top off. Inside wrapped in wax paper were the biggest and thickest roast beef sandwiches that I ever saw. Home made cookies and big slices of apple pie. Thermos of coffee and a thermos with my name on it. I open the top to find hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks in a bag taped to the side. We sat around the fire eating and grunting away. That was 30 years ago and I still remember it if it was like yesterday. Well actually it was just like yesterday because Edna now in her 90's still cooks like that and Gus still eats like that.

So maybe our parents and grandparents were not really getting old when they took us out fishing. Maybe they had learned how to relax and enjoy their kids. It's not always about catching fish. It might just be about being with your kids. Every time I go fishing with Elmer and with Gus I am reminded to just take time and enjoy the moment. Stop and take a deep breath, watch a deer standing on the shoreline watching you. A eagle in a tree a dragonfly on the tip of your rod. You may have seen it a hundred times before but if you are a kid it may be your first time. The line "stop and smell the roses" didn't really mean you had to smell roses.

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I never met her (knowingly), but I had met Dorothy Molter when she sold root beer at her cabin on Knife Lake. I feel your pain. Obviously two great Pioneers gone now. Throw your first two walleyes back at opener this year.

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