Someone once told me there’s no one better suited to do what he does than Jeff. Mr. Thrope is a kind of guru in the world of outdoor clothing. He doesn’t get super technical when talking about it, and that’s what makes his work so wonderfully good and approachable. But to hear him tell it, he wasn’t coaxed into a life in the wild in the way I was. My father often admits he might have been a park ranger in another life. I don’t know that Jeff’s dad would say the same.
The few times we’ve hung out Jeff’s been easy as pie to get along with, suuuuper chill, and just doin’ his thing. Sounds like a chip off the old block to me.
It would make sense that because I write about camping and work in the outdoor industry my father would have taught me all there is to know about the mountains and the woods. While he’s just about the smartest guy I know, the Great Outdoors was not something at which he excelled while growing up in New York City. Once, he did take me to Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin, where we made quesadillas on an old Coleman stove, then read in our tent for a few hours before falling asleep. It wasn’t exactly Survival 101, but in the years to follow, my parents sent me to three years of summer camp in Northern Minnesota, a month long NOLS trip in British Columbia, and eventually, four years of college in Colorado. So while David Myron Thrope (MYRON!) is not the guy who taught me the Latin names of native wildflowers, he was very much responsible for all my outdoor education. And for those opportunities, I will be forever grateful.
I suppose it’s not customary to start off a column called “Things My Father Taught Me” with an explanation of what he didn’t teach me, though knowing my father, I’m sure he spent the first paragraph laughing. I could spend hours-upon-hours writing about things that I’ve learned from him — Taking major life risks. He moved to Tokyo while in high school and spent most of his adult life living there. Working your ass off to provide for your family. There are few days that go by where I’m not reminded about how fortunate I was growing up. And how to fall asleep every time you sit down in a chair to read. I’m waiting to master this skill as I’m not sure it would be very useful on a New York City subway.
The most important thing he’s taught me couldn’t be simpler. He and my mom would do anything for their family and friends and really, what’s more important than that? Every time I’m with my dad – whether it’s watching him eat a big turkey leg on Thanksgiving, roaming the aisles of The Strand bookstore whenever he’s in New York (he has yet to fall asleep there) or treating my friends and I to cold beers, I’m constantly reminded of the person who inspires and challenges me to be my best self. His kindness, his generosity, his intelligence, his warmth all come naturally, without effort, without hesitation, without compromise. And there’s no better lesson than to sit back and watch that type of person just do their thing….
I guess it’s only fitting that the most important thing you learn from someone can be something that they didn’t set out to teach you.