Sunday, June 19, 2011

what we carry, what we keep

I'm not very sentimental about "stuff." I like to keep memories, photographs, written descriptions, stories to tell again and again, but not so much souvenirs, certificates or other memorabilia. I don't even have my high school yearbooks any more. That's how little I feel like keeping "stuff."

But when my Dad emailed me to tell me he was going to let go of his old daypack, I knew that I wanted to have it. Here's the email he sent me, my sister and my niece a couple of months ago:

My ancient Millet day pack The lightweight waist strap (not heavy-duty enough to allow for significant transfer of weight from shoulders to hips) has come loose where it was repair-sewn to own side of the pack, and its mirror image is about to come loose where it too was repair-sewn a while ago. Your mother has expressed extreme disinterest in fighting with it any more. So I went to MEC and paid $40 and bought a new pack which is fine and should last another 40 years.

The old pack is, except for that strap, durable as hell, as evidenced by the fact that I got it in I think 1969. I think I paid nearly as much for it as for the new one, and those were 1969 US dollars (at REI in Seattle). If I had a dime for every circuit it has made of Burnaby Lake, never mind where else it has gone, I probably could have paid for the new pack. It has a top flap with zipper pocket where I kept useful things one might want in a hurry like toilet paper and soap, or, on those rare days that it was sunny enough to warrant taking them, my sunglasses. The main part of the pack is just one huge cavity, big enough for my backpacker's Coleman stove, two or three 1 litre Nalgene water bottles, lunch, and lots of clothing for warmth and rain protection. I have gone on one overnight fast-and-light trip using it (slept in my down parka and down pants, no sleeping bag or tent). It has attachment points for crampons and for an ice axe.

If you want the thing it's yours. I could give suggestions for how you might be able to repair the waist strap attachment, though your mother has doubts that my ideas will work. Or you could just snip off the remaining strap; as I said, the strap provides very little transfer of weight away from the shoulders so its main use is stabilization, to keep the thing from swaying from side to side.

It's ugly and dirty and smelly; the dirty and smelly can be fixed, but after over 40 years of use, you're stuck with the ugly. Let me know if you (or one of your kids) want it.


I picked the pack up from my parents' house and tossed it in my closet. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. I just didn't want it to be thrown away. This is the pack that my Dad has always worn when we've gone for hikes, from the time I was a little girl. A week or so after I brought it home, Fiona was looking for a prop for one of her students' plays. She needed something that looked like an old-fashioned parachute pack. Presto! The day pack had its stage debut, looking very much like a parachute for a nefarious cat in the musical Honk. After that it went back into the closet.

I decided to take it out today for Father's Day. Dad's and my tradition is to go for a "sushi walk," partway around Burnaby Lake. We stop at Piper Spit for lunch. I bring sushi. Dad brings his Coleman stove and makes miso soup and tea. We enjoy some time together in a beautiful place, with a yummy lunch, and this time, memories of a good old daypack and all of the places it has been.

So I guess I am sometimes sentimental about "stuff," when it's the right stuff, that is.

question: do you have anything that you like to hang on to?

mompoet - good old red daypack


Cathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathy said...

Ok Sue ... twice in less than 12 hours you have brought tears to my eyes. Ths is priceless!

mompoet said...

Aw Cathy, thank you. This summer is especially heavy with important (and tear-provoking) moments, I think. I'm glad that I can share them with you.