Author Archives: Les Tanner

About Les Tanner

Les Tanner is shown here with his late wife, Ruby, to whom he was married for more than sixty years, and who also was on the staff of IDAHO magazine. When Les, a retired teacher, isn’t working on the magazine's calendar, proofreading, fishing, writing, playing pickleball, or pulling weeds, he’s out looking for Jimmy the cat.

The Birdman

On a warm summer day in 1995, I was on my way back home to Caldwell from a two-day fishing trip to the South Fork of the Boise River.

Rather than return by way of Mountain Home and the Interstate, I decided to take the more scenic, and definitely more bumpy, road that goes up the hill from Danskin Bridge to Prairie and eventually to Black’s Creek Road. I’m always on the lookout for new waters to test with rod and reel, and my map showed there was a tiny creek off to the west of Prairie.

As I approached the area, I saw a glint of water through the thick willows, and was surprised to see that it was more than the mere trickle the map had indicated. I turned up the next dusty lane I came to, guessing correctly that it paralleled the creek in the direction of its source in the mountains not far to the northeast. Continue reading

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Austin Goes West

I’ve got one,” Austin said quietly as I was in the middle of a cast. I looked up to see my oldest grandson standing knee-deep in the cold water, a few yards upstream from where I was fishing—and sure enough, his fly rod was bent into a big curve. He definitely had a fish on.

I was surprised that Austin was so calm. But he was a cool kid, even at eleven years old—and he remained cool in spite of the fact that he had hooked his first trout of the day. Continue reading

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Fences

One morning in 1998, while I was out in the yard irrigating the lawn, I heard, then saw, a couple of loose boards on the back fence begin to rattle and shake.

It worried me for a moment, because I thought it might have been our newest family member, Niki the cat, who was outside with me and who we hope can be taught to stay in our yard. However, Niki was occupied for the moment with her exploration of the raspberry patch, so I called out toward the moving fence, “Somebody there?”

“Just me,” returned a male voice, and the boards parted to reveal a friendly face I didn’t recall having seen before.

The gray-haired gentleman who belonged to the face didn’t introduce himself, nor did I. We each knew who the other was. He and his wife had lived in the house beyond that fence—a house no more than eighty feet from ours—for a number of years before my wife and I moved to Caldwell in 1980, yet the truth is that my neighbor and I had never met.

Imagine that: living eighty feet away from someone for nearly eighteen years and never having seen him. I suppose if the boards hadn’t come loose because of errant irrigation water having rotted out a two-by-four along the fence’s base, it could easily have been another eighteen years.

We stood talking to each other through the gap for a few minutes, agreed to “get together sometime soon” to do a little fence mending, and then let the boards close again, separating us and our yards. Continue reading

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Desperately Seeking Sand

When we moved into our present home in Caldwell in 1980, a nice brick sidewalk led from the front step to the driveway.

Besides allowing people to come to the front door without having to walk on the lawn, it provided a barrier to the water we used for irrigating the lawn once a week during the summer. Without it, we would have had regular floods in our garage. We had enough as it was.

Even back then, grass from the lawn had begun to spread into the cracks between the bricks, and before too many years had passed, the only clue to the existence of the brick walk was a slight elevation in the lawn on that side of the yard. I felt there was no harm in this. Folks could still get to the front door via the sidewalk next to the house. The only drawback was the weeds. Those cracks between the bricks, which allowed the lawn to invade, seemed ideally suited to the roots of dandelions and other such plants, and digging them out was next to impossible. The best I could do was to break the plants off at the surface, and this merely reinforced the vitality of their roots.The only solution to the problem appeared to be to tear out all the bricks, dig out the offending plants, and re-make the walk.

As one who dislikes rushing into things—the house might burn down, for example, and then there’d be no need for the walk—I waited until a couple of years ago to begin that cleaning-out process. It wasn’t a particularly hard job. In fact, it was somewhat interesting to see how the various types of vegetation had adapted themselves over, around, into, and under the bricks. I even discovered a couple of quarters long since lost in the cracks, and this gave me the excuse to take a break of several hours while I combed the yard with my metal detector, looking for more. I didn’t find any.
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