Barefoot on Thin Ice
Deer season, time to be a real man and shoot something. So I piled my
stuff in the truck and headed over the river and through the woods.
Grand ma had one eye on the feeder and the other on a monster stack of
dirty dishes. I swear that one of the plates was growing legs. Oh well,
first things first.
Her trailer had slipped a bit since Grandpa died, but she had grown
younger. I smiled and nodded every time she slipped into Finnish. These
were the woods, and she was still the sort of woman who got out an axe
every time the cat had kittens and pulled up trees by the roots. A little
girl with false teeth.
Time for a smoke, so I went out to play the chickadee game. Her side
porch is a chickadee superhighway. Ten per minute, within inches of
your nose. If you hold your cigarette just right, one of the little buggers
snatches it right out of your mouth. Got one! Yuppers, it was hunting
season. And time for the ritual.
I can never unload the truck before I visit the old house and the grove.
Especially the house, charmingly haunted by years of neglect. The door
had fallen off, finally, and the place smelled like skunk. Not that a
human could walk through the door. The house was a gentle cross
between a museum and a garbage dump. One new treasure every time. I
found a good one in the kitchen sink and went back to the trailer.
Gramma, what the hell is this? Usual response: You don’t want to know.
Yuppers, it was hunting season. Time to scope in the ol’ .270.
I walked past the grove, past the dead Ford, past the dead Chevy, past 70
years of ignominious garbage and insulin needles to the logging road.
The deer had taken the bait and my treestand was still there, more or
less. Up we go, watch out for nails! I sat down, breathless, master of all
he surveys. Plus, I had a gun. Here, Bambi, Bambi!
Had to kill a tree first, though. I picked out a 3” popal about 100 yards
down the road. If I could hit it, I could hit my buck and hit the road.
Boom. The first round probably got somebody’s cow. Four clicks to the
right. Boom. Got the edge. One more click. Boom. The tree came down
with a primal creak. Close enough. My fingers were freezing, but I
couldn’t abdicate the stand. The silence and northern breeze were
healing my soul. Besides, I’m afraid of heights.