It was a clear warm early fall day in Vermont almost 50 years ago. Was walking with my wife to be through the mixed fields and scrub trees struggling to reclaim the once tended pastures, following or climbing over the old stone walls that marked forgotten boundaries, a few miles from the nearest farms, drawn on to finding “the right place” as in “you will know it when you see it”, in no hurry. The nights had been cold enough to color the trees, brief flame before browning and dropping for the fast approaching freeze. After an hour or two we stopped to soak up the early afternoon sun, warm our bones, and bask in the stillness, so different than our life in Boston a hundred miles away. Here we were silent too, a prayer to the beauty, a revery to a different distant time. We were blissed and blessed.
After a spell a loud clumsy crashing noise, the breaking of small downed branches, interrupted our meditations. It was quite dry, even the grasses crackled. First thoughts a drunken bear or moose, drunk or shot. The noise went on for some minutes, seemed longer, and finally a figure emerged from the scrub to the east, a 30 something guy all decked out in the latest brand new dark green forest camo carrying a shiny compound bow and broadheads, a pack, and bedroll, standing out in the dry yellow grasses. We had not moved or spoken. He stood stock still when he finally saw us sitting there about 50 feet away.
I decided to break into the silence that descended when he stopped. “What are you doing?” “Oh, huntin’ deer, seen any?” He was a coupla days unshaven, so trying to size him up a little more I asked how long he had been at it. “This is the third day” he said as he came closer. So not letting my eyes leave his, not wanting anyone unknown near us with a silent quite deadly weapon, i replied that we had seen a couple yesterday down in the shallow draw about a mile to the west. He thanked me and continued on toward the west, finally crashing and crackling his way out of earshot. There wasn’t a breath of wind. Amazing how far sound travels in silence.
Turning to my gal i said “must be lost and blind too, out of his element”, and nodded in the direction of the two young does with their spotted fawns that were bedded down for the afternoon about 20 feet away to the north, heads up watching us for a few seconds before curling back up and closing their eyes again.
5 Replies to “Once in a while you win”
Lovely story Richard, full of beauty and texture. It reminds me of an experience I had while hiking in the Sonora Desert. I had hiked the rocky terrain above a dry waterfall many times. There was a ledge overlooking the trails below that was one of my favorite places to sit and enjoy the day. One day I saw a group of three young men hiking below. It was fairly obvious they were on unfamiliar terrain doing unfamiliar activity. They somehow found the trail that led up to the higher reaches above the waterfall. Dumb luck I think, not many people ever found it. After they reached the first plateau they were celebrating their prowess and I stepped out from behind the rocks that hid the ledge. Said howdy and disappeared onto another trail that led upwards.
As I hiked on I could hear them wondering where I had come from and where I had gone. I enjoyed the moment and moved on.
Funny how some people have no sense of the land they walk across.
Hi Richard, nice re-direction there. This is so vividly described I feel as if I were there with you.
Your hapless hunter reminds me of the bumbling (but lovable) King Pellinore in T.H. White’s classic The Sword in the Stoned who has been questing the Questing Beast for eighteen years with no luck. Have you read it? There’s a chapter concerning owls that might interest you.
re-direct ? i felt like it followed on directly….
No have not read TH White volume and guess i should for the apparently endless quest and of course for the owls…
Felt like it followed because the last of the great deer hunters in the story, all camoed up in new expensive gear, didn’t recognize four of them from a distance of 20-30 feet. Same way we get trillions of dollars of nasty tools to treat our fellow man with, all in pursuit of peace. Had to lie to him to get him to take his disease as far away as possible. Do not mistake me tho, it is one thing when we have all the arrows, and another when some other idiot has them. I gave up hiding under the desks as a kid after seeing an 8mm movie made by a Japanese doctor who lived about 20 miles outside of Hiroshima, who immediately after the blast started walking in that direction, and filming along the way, knowing his skills would be needed. About 12 miles from ground zero he photographed a new brick school that was situated tangential to the blast circle. The brick and concrete structure had been blast formed into an arc by the force, from 12 miles away, and all the glass blown right through anyone inside. And this was a “small” explosion. The only thing that works to protect in the short run is distance, and lots of it. After that we are at the mercy of the wind direction. Let’s face it if one were to come our way it would more likely go toward Honolulu. If the aim was true, two things would happen, the first, that 50 or 100 would land over there, plus Seoul would be rubble for those 20 million folks. Then the Big Island would have to quickly start making room for all the Oahu survivors to shelter… But we are the least of it. There is no good end to this story.
Ah but we made great strides in reduction with the SALT agreement, where supposedly each side only gets to have 8,000, upgraded at that….
There is another story that comes to mind too, it’s from Vonnegut and concerns a robot spacecraft lander that is on Trafalmador waiting for spare parts (read peace) from the home base.
And he has been waiting in place for 800,000
(or millions i forget) years, expecting help from elsewhere. What are we waiting for?
Oh I just meant you did a great job of re-directing the mighty hunter off towards the horizon where you’d seen some deer a day ago. So funny!
But I’m glad you explicated the connections…
As the late Marshallese statesman Tony deBrum said: “In either case, people have to choose to end this world, this universe. You can either do it slowly with climate change, or you can press a button and blow it up. And neither is justified.”
This tale reads like a blast of fresh, country air to me, Richard. Much appreciated.
Michelle … sword in the stoned … how these cursed algorithms do judge us! 🙂
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