In the summer of 2001 our family decided to vacation at Yellow
stone Park. We secured lodging in West Yellowstone, Montana and visited the various attractions in the park for the first few days. Near West Yellowstone is Hebgan Lake, one of my favorite fishing spots.
We decided to make a visit to Hebgan Lake and drove to Whisky Point. We were letting the kids play and swim. With my wife watching the kids, I was making ready to fly fish out on the lake in my float tube. I could hear the kids having the time of their lives. Just as I was stepping into the water with my float tube, the laughter was replaced by hysterical screaming. I dropped everything, kicked my flippers off, and ran to the screams.
Morgan, our six year old son, was screaming and flailing uncontrollably. My sweet wife was doing all she could to clam him to no avail. I asked what happened. Everybody explained at once that Morgan and Philip and been out swimming and wading. When they came in there were several Leeches attached to their ankles. Morgan saw the Leeches and became hysterical. They had removed the leeches but that didn’t help. I tried to calm him and explained, “It’s no big deal”, but he was unphased. I asked him, “What, do you think you are going to die?” He replied “Yes, I am going to die, I am going to die!” sobbing in exaggerated exclamations.
Nothing we tried calmed him! As his mother and siblings continued their efforts, I started trying to figure out how to get through to him. As is my habit, I started pacing around Whisky Point. Then I noticed a very nice crop of ripe wild strawberries about the size of buttons.
A crazy Idea came to me. Morgan knew I knew the outdoors and he also knew I could fix almost anything. I decided to use that to our advantage and I quickly picked enough wild strawberries to fill most of the palm of my hand.
With my hand full of wild strawberries I went over to Morgan, still screaming and sobbing, and asked if he could see the berries in my hand. He replied, “yes!” I then went on to explain that these were “leechberries” and that if they taste good then he would live! However, if they taste bad he was most likely going to die. I told him to tell us right away because if they taste bad we will have to call “life-flight” and do what we can, but most-likely he would just die anyway. I was doing everything I could to not just bust up laughing. I then asked if he was ready and told him to open his mouth as wide as he could so I could pop them in. I reiterated again that he had to tell us right away if they tasted good.
Morgan took several big breaths, got control of his sobbing, and opened his mouth as wide as he could. I put my handful of “leechberries” up to his mouth and he closed his lips around them. He began to chew and after a moment he gasped out the words, “They taste good, they taste good, I’m going to live!”
It wasn’t five minutes later he was back in the water playing and having fun again. When he came back to shore he once again had leeches on his ankles. This time he picked them off himself and showed them to his mother explaining, “See, it’s no big deal…”