The best Father's Day presents simply can't be purchased.
MY FAVORITE coffee cup shows a bearded man, baseball cap perched atop his head, paddling an aluminum canoe across a lake of cobalt blue.
In the front of the canoe sits a little girl with a ponytail, holding a fishing rod. At the end of the line attached to the rod is a fish the color of the canoe - and almost one-fourth its size.
Across the powder blue sky near the cup's handle are the giant block letters D-A-D in red, followed by a string of dots and the words `Fish on!'
The scene has every appearance of being the primative artwork of an 8- or 9-year old.
It was actually painted by my daughter at one of those do-it-yourself ceramics stores when she was in her early 30s.
Somehow, the fact that it is the work of a grown woman makes me treasure the cup even more than if it had been done when she was 9.
Perhaps I view the cup as evidence that she has forgiven me for - on the occasion of her birth - publishing a newspaper column in which I admitted I'd been hoping for a son who would become a left-handed hitting shortstop. Or that she does not resent being reared as if she actually were a son, dragged to countless ballgames, on long hiking expeditions and, yes, on fishing trips.
I'm not even bothered by the fact that, on the cup, she is the one catching the big fish.
The bottom line is, this $5 coffee cup is one of the least-expensive and most-cherished gifts I've ever received. The cup and what it means to me comes to mind because Sunday is Father's Day, and I have been subjected to the annual deluge of lists of "gift suggestions" from outdoor magazines and various corporate entities.
Gadgets, gizmos and items of clothing invariably dominate these lists, and this year is no exception.
The editors of "Outdoor Life" magazine, for example, are touting the "Garmin Rino 110," a two-way radio and GPS unit in one.
The Rino, they point out, "comes with a belt clip and a headset so you can converse without spooking game." The unit also features a large screen that "can show topographic maps and - thanks to the Rino's `peer-to-peer' position reporting feature - can, at the push of a button, transmit your location to other people in your group."
It's priced at $211 (without the topographic mapping feature) or $311 (with topographic feature).
The magazine is also convinced that fathers everywhere would love to have the Timex Helix, a digital compass, altimeter, thermometer, barometer, clock, timer and alarm. All that plus "unlike other wrist-top computers, the Helix is easy to use," the editors insist. The Helix is priced at $139.95.
Then there's the "Handheld Generator "from Aladdinpower.
"Weighing just 4.2 ounces, the unit can be used to charge cell phones, GPS units or any other oddly-shaped piece of plastic that has wires and computer chips," Outdoor Life says. "It comes with a plug-in flashlight bulb, a cell phone cable and a charging regulator. Just squeeze the generator's handle with your hand to generate electricity."
The generator is priced at $59.95.
If money is an object, you can always get Dear ol' Dad some "Lure Savers," described as oval-shaped titanium alloy split rings that "stay with the lure when you pull it free from a snag." They're only $1 or $1.25, depending on size.
Or, there's always selection of Southern Flavor Seasonings. "The editors found these mixes to be awfully addictive," the magazine says. "Spinkle-on blends include Deer & Wild Game, Charbroil and Garlic." You get three 3-ounce bottles for $6.95.
Meanwhile, a public relations outfit is convinced Cabela's Limited Edition Catalog holds the key to "the perfect present for the sporting Dad."
"Like kids at Christmas, Dads don't really want to open a present to find clothes inside," the news release confides. "Unless it's something he can really use like Guidewear or a Dry-Plus Packable Wading Jacket rainwear. Worsterlon Outdoorsman Shirts are also a favorite among men who spend their days off working and playing outdoors."
Also highly recommended is "Maptrails GeoQUAD," a hand-held unit that assures "Dad doesn't have to stop for directions (like he would anyway!) next time he wanders on and off-trail. This cool new Web-based program offers advanced mapping technology with integrated navigation and is available exclusively from Cabela's," the release says.
Meanwhile, Amazon.com (surprise, surprise) thinks Dad would like nothing better than to receive some reading material.
Among the Internet bookstore's suggested gifts are the book "Think Like a Fish" by Tom Mann ($16.07) and subscriptions to "National Geographic Adventure Magazine" ($12) or "Outside" magazine ($16).
I can't speak for other dads, but I know what I'd like to receive for Father's Day, and it's not a tool, clothing or reading material.
I'd like a few hours in a canoe on a cobalt blue lake with a young woman in a ponytail. Only this time she'd be paddling and I'd be the one in the front seat, holding the fishing rod and hollering "Fish on!"
Mike Stahlberg is the Register-Guard's outdoor writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Jun 13, 2002|
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