Last night we had a fresh snow. This morning the wind is calm, the temperature is 40 degrees.
All is quiet in the house. The wife is asleep, as are all of the pets. While I sat here at my computer waiting for my S - L - O - W internet server to respond and allow me access to the internet at a crippled snails pace, I gazed out the window and was drawn back to my youth.
On any given weekend 40 years ago, I would not have been found in the house on a morning like this. My favorite gun, knife and I would have been out in the woods. Hunting was a reason I frequently used to escape to the solitude of the woods. The crunch of the wet snow under my uninsulated green rubber hunting boots, could be felt by my wool stocking covered feet. The whisper of the wool of my WWI calvary riding pants made at each step. I would be over warm in the Navy Pea Coat and Black Watch Cap given by and old family friend Harry Ross, who was a Submariner in WWI & II. My Marlin .22 caliber model 150M semi-automatic rifle loaded up road lightly in my Jersey gloved hand, and a few extra shells in my pocket, I was ready if I chose to use it.
On a morning such as this, I would forgo the cedar swamp and head down the old railroad bedding and back towards the river. My destination about a mile and a half away. Along the trail I might spot rabbits or partridge or ringneck pheasant or maybe even deer. But my quarry for today would be squirrels. I would follow the riverbank back towards the direction of home. Stopping along the way to sit and listen for the sound of rustling branches, and watching for fast flitting movements both on the ground and in the branches overhead. This area was my home and I knew every tree and rock and trail. I probably spent more time here than at the trailer house we lived in. An 8 x 36 foot box to contain the 6 of us. Along with my parents, I had an older brother and 2 younger sisters. The box was a madhouse. Here I had all of the room and peace and quiet I could ask for. The serenity to dream my dreams.....what was that?
Movement .....and the sound of claws scurrying on bark.
There.....a squirrel scampering around a tree. It's a big Fox Squirrel in range of an easy shot, I slowly raise my gun. I sight on his head and ......"BANG"!!!
The squirrel jumps as if hit by lightning.....
and runs flying off the branch it was on to another tree, and another and another.
I am laughing at the sight......No, I did not miss or even wound it.
As a matter of fact I did not even shoot.
My yell of "BANG" was more satisfying than any squirrel dinner.
Today I was not hunting for food.
I was hunting for something else. And I found it.
My peace and solitude over, I head back home.... to reality.
Fort Stanton Ride
2 weeks ago