PHOTOGRAPHS ARE AMAZING things.

The first photo of myself that I have ever seen was of me sitting in one sink of a twin set with my cousin, 15 days my junior, in the other. We were only months old and getting baths. I’ve tried to erase that photo from my memory for more than six decades, but so far, have been unsuccessful in my efforts.

Nowadays, I enjoy looking back through old photos of my family and friends; some really old, old photos; some from only a year or so ago. 

What sparked my interest today in going back through the scores of photo albums my wife has compiled was a clue in a crossword puzzle I worked last week that asked for the name of the first U.S. president ever to be photo­graphed.

Using letters crossing that clue, a clue for which I initially had no answer, I got William Henry Harrison. Turns out, according to The Atlantic magazine and other sources, there should have been two acceptable answers. Harrison, in 1841, on the day of his inaugural, had his photo taken, but it was lost to history sometime after that. 

The longest surviving photo of a U.S. president is that of John Quincy Adams, a photo taken in 1843. But there is a caveat to that. At the time, he was no longer president, having served one term which expired in 1829. In 1843, he was serving in Congress, a seat he held until his death in 1878. Now, aren’t you glad you know all this?

The photos I spent time looking at today might not have the historical significance of those of the presidents, but nonetheless, they remain much more important to me.

Some are of my children when they were quite young. To narrow it down, the ones of them that mean the most to me are those of my children enjoying an experience in the outdoors.

Each photo brings back a warm memory of things we did together in the outdoors. Some are simple moments of idle reflection, like one I took in black and white of my daughter sitting with her back against a tree, while looking out over the frozen surface of a small lake that had just a fringe of open water along the shoreline. The ground under the pine tree against which she sat is totally barren of snow and with just a light, long-sleeved shirt on, I am guessing it was a warm April day that augered well of spring and summer days just ahead.

Watching snow come down heavily outside my window today makes me wish for a similar day to come along in the fairly near future.

There is another picture of Ericka and me as we were loading up Johnny, the 10-foot johnboat which served me well for 30 years, with our fishing gear. I still remember that evening as one when my wife and son, he at an age of perhaps 2 or 3 at the time, stayed by the campfire over which I had cooked supper, while Ericka and I set forth on an expedition aimed at filling the boat with walleyes.

I must, as an honest reporter, admit that not so much as one walleye came aboard that evening, though a photo at the end of our outing showed Ericka holding a fat 28-inch northern pike which made for another campfire cookout a few days later.

One of my favorite pictures of my son, Brooks, was taken when he was 4 years old. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was a warm, cloudy afternoon when Brooks and I shoved off in Johnny for an afternoon of duck hunting.

Mostly we sat and watched throughout the duration of our three-hour outing, as few ducks were flying, even fewer flying close enough to get a shot. It made no difference to Brooks, who alternated watching for ducks with playing with sticks and eating kernels of wild rice which had fallen into the boat as we rowed to our blind. By the way, I did kill one teal that day.

Another photo of Brooks I enjoy looking at is one of him on the oars of a 14-foot wide-beamed rowboat when he was around the age of 6. By that time, he had been rowing Johnny for some time and was actually fairly proficient at what he was doing.

What makes the photo special for me is that as the youngest of three cousins on that weekend camping outing, he was the only one who had mastered the art of rowing a boat in a straight line. I couldn’t help but smugly make a remark to my cousin, the father of the other two boys, that they perhaps needed a better coach.

As I page through the albums of photos and the memories stored in my head, I feel a certain warmth come over me, remembering the days we camped, the four of us: wife, children and I, on an island in the middle of a small, beautiful lake; the day Ericka and I returned home with her limit of brook trout on opening day; the day Brooks shot his first deer; the day my wife stood at the shore of West Tensleep Lake overlooking Cloud Peak in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming; and many more of the days we have spent enjoying the outdoors here and everywhere we have traveled.

I treasure the picture of Brooks, my dad, Doug Drew and me in North Dakota with 56 ducks we brought home, four shy of a bag limit. It was the first year Brooks and my dad accompanied me to duck camp. 

A day of relaxation is well-reflected in a photo of my daughter, Ericka, and her husband, Scott, on a camping trip we took just last summer.

There are several others featuring Ericka, Scott, my wife, Brooks and his wife, Holli, during another camping trip the summer before.

Always, it seems, among the thousands of photos my wife and I have taken, mostly my wife, the ones I look at the most and remember most fondly are of one or more of us enjoying the outdoors. I’m sure there will be more to come.