To Bee or Not to Bee | PostIndependent.com
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To Bee or Not to Bee

Frank always was a rolling stone. The other day he e-mailed me from Chile, where he’s spending the winter trout fishing. He had a few pithy remarks about the election.A while back he visited here in Peach Valley. One day we hiked to the rim of the Grand Hogback. On the way up, we didn’t talk much, but I knew there was a politically correct woman of just the right age down in New Mexico he’d been seeing. I said, “You still got that left-wing girlfriend?”Frank shook his head. “It never would have worked,” he said earnestly.”Why?” I said.”Because she’s rich,” he said.I said, “That’s a problem?””It won’t work,” he said. “It never does.”Frank grew up in Iowa. After college he landed a job as a stockbroker. Then he punched cows in Nevada. He climbed the big walls in Yosemite. He paddled a canoe down the Mackenzie River from the Great Slave Lake to the Arctic Ocean. He taught skiing in Oregon and ski patrolled in Aspen. He ran the patrol in Portillo, Chile, during the socialist regime of Salvador Allende. It was in Portillo that he managed to break both legs skiing. He arrived back in the States in twin full-length leg casts – to the astonishment of his American physician. “Damned Communist Chilean doctor,” Frank muttered. “He hated Americans.”He settled down and married Bonnie. I always found her warm and most charming. She loved Frank dearly. She taught skiing and tennis. They sold their place in Snowmass and moved to Ketchum, Idaho, next to Sun Valley. They raised a daughter.Frank built a house in Ketchum. And he found work. Frank is that sort of meticulous carpenter and cabinetmaker who can always find a good job in a money town. The owners want it done right, and they’ll pay. This is right up Frank’s alley. After he moved to Ketchum, Frank went back to school and became an accountant. I know he did taxes. He worked for a boss who thought the world of him. But then everybody likes Frank. He quit accounting to hire on as a river guide. For sure the pay wasn’t as good, and he was already no spring chicken, but life is short, isn’t it? Now Frank mostly guides in the summer and works as a carpenter in the winter. He rows little boats through the Grand Canyon on two-week trips. He reads corny cowboy stories around the campfire at night. His well-heeled clients adore him. They send him Christmas cards and tell him how “the Canyon” changed their lives forever. Frank generally has a beard. He had one when he and I visited my folks in Sheridan, Montana. This was back when respectable men shaved. Grandma grew up on the ranch, and you couldn’t fool her. She took to Frank. I think they played cribbage. “Frank proves you can’t tell a book by its cover,” she confided.Frank always liked to read about the golden age of polar exploration – about Admiral Byrd and Finn Ronne and Ernest Shackleton — and men cast into desperate straits in unimaginably extreme weather. So it didn’t surprise me when he announced, “I’m tired of carpentry. I’d like to spend my golden years guiding winter steelhead trips.”In my mind’s eye I see him floating the Rogue River in the rain. Ancient and grizzled but still fit, Frank gracefully maneuvers his flat-bottom drift boat across the current. His client does the talking. Finally Frank breaks his silence. He points deliberately and says in his homely way, “Put your fly against that rock.”Frank might just do it. It wouldn’t surprise me. He always was a rolling stone.Peach Valley beekeeper and ski patroller Ed Colby believes you need to follow your heart. Ed’s e-mail: esc@sopris.net


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