Today is Sunday, June 25, 2017

The old men

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The Old Man gazed at the frozen lake and thought of the trip of a lifetime.

I have trouble writing Christmas columns, have since the kids grew up. So, I thought, maybe you'd enjoy this factional, (combination of fact and fiction), account of a cold day. Might help you cool off. The misspelt werds are intentional. It is callt vernacular...or something. Might make you consider Christmas JLS

"Boreal forest my great aunt Fanny, Pard,: he whispered.
"This right here aint nuthin but a frozen pine thicket and like as not, I'm goin to freeze right here in the middle of it. I'm tellin ya, this shere aint no place for old men like us. How did you talk me into this? I hope it aint like the lottery ticket you made me buy or the big donation to the church, you made me do. And I hope we get home by Christmas. That's special to both of us, right?"
"Why pshaw, Ole Pard! Half the dang Canady air force could crash 20 feet from us and never be found. But was the planes to catch afar, I'd be fust in line to warm up. This is just about too far from downtown Tioger, Lousianer to suit me."
He wiped the silver drops from his hawkish nose and fumbled to get the top off the huge thermos of soup. Pouring half a cup, he let the warmth seep into his hands, nodded to his friend and drank deeply.
"How'd you get us into this mess? When I saw that big lake, froze nearly three feet down, I figured you'd got us in a real jackpot. But if this is what you think we orter do, then aye grannies, we'll do er. En mayhaps, this ole thutty-thutty will do fer one of them big deer, too."
"Yes, I'd like to have one of these monsters, me. Kiss a pig if I wouldn't." The old man ruminated between filling his pipe and wiping his nose. He had been warned not to smoke but that wasn't going to happen. The pipe seldom left his mouth.
He noticed that light had begun to come to the Canadian bush and the forest started to take on shape. In front of him, 50 yards out, was a small clearing with fresh hay and frozen green peas scattered in it. That was the way they did it up here-only way they could-he was told.
Then, as the last remnants of the moon slid away, first one then two, then three wolves fired off some distance behind him. "Oh my great, good God!" He whispered. "You hear that? All my life I have wanted to hear a real live, wild wolf and now they is three of them talkin to me. I know now, yes I do. Thank you, Pard, for showin me why this is a trip of lifetime. I can hear and see some of the creatures here that don't live on the bayou. Thank you, I reckon mayhaps you was right. You reckon they is maybe a big deer out there, too?"
It wasn't a weasel, wasn't a muskrat, wasn't a nutria and for sure wasn't one of them tiny pine squirrels what would take 20 to make a decent jumbalye. "What the cat hair is that?" Then it came to him and he had no idea how he knew. It was a pine marten, "Fustun ever I seen. He thought. Muss be one of yours?"
She came first, then the young buck. He watched as they fed nervously in the opening. Suddenly, they both exploded and were swallowed by the thick pines. "What the Sam Hill got into them?" The Old Man mused. Then, a flicker of motion caught his eye. At first he thought it was a wolf, gliding through the trees. It stopped for just a second in a small opening and the Old Man gasped. "Aye God! That aint no wolf. That is a mountain lion sure as rice is white! Thank you kindly agin." He whispered. Then the cat was gone in one leap, swallowed by the trees.
The minutes ticked by and according to the pocket watch in his coat pocket, it was just past eight. He wiped his nose, adjusted his pipe and chuckled again at the explanation the guide had given yesterday when he asked, "Why aint they no snakes up here?" The guide had answered, "Cause they can't reproduce, eh. Some kind of a reptile dysfunction." The old man had laughed till he teared.
She was back, the doe and something bigger, much bigger was circling the clearing. The Old Man stuck the barrel of Winchester 30-30 out and thumbed back the hammer, waiting. "Get ready," he whispered, bout to start the dance. Watch close now."
"Come on you sumbuck, step between enny two of them pineapple trees and I'll let light through you." No more had the thought passed through his mind than the biggest buck he had ever seen did just that. Fifty years of repetition took over and the buckhorn sights lined up just behind the shoulder. The rifle jarred his shoulder and the woods were empty.
"Aye grannies, don't tell me I missed that sumbuck?" He said to his partner. I'll set here a few and then go take me a little looksee."
Twenty minutes later, the Old Man stood where the buck had stood. Shivering in the -20 degree cold, he wondered aloud. "Oh hellamity, don't tell me I missed at 50 yards. Aint no blood but them right there is his tracks sure as death and taxes. I'd foller em but I was tolt strict-like not to get out of sight of the blind. Bess is I guess, to wait for that guide feller. I know he is around here close somewhere, said he wouldn't be 100 yards away."
Just then a soft voice said, "You hit him?" The Old Man jumped a foot. "Dangnation boy, don't you be a'sneakin up on me." He admonished the 40-year old, 250-pound guide.
"Lets go take a look. And who have you been talkin to all morning, eh? I could hear you from 100 yards away." The guide said and started off following the exact tracks as if he had seen the buck. The Old Men grinned at each other.
Fifty yards and not a drop of blood. The Old Man's steps were dragging; not his Pard's. The guide never slowed. Then, he started laughing. The buck, all 320 pounds of him, lay just ahead with no blood anywhere. The 30-30 had done its' job, just not quite all the way through.
The Old Man put another log in the stove and sat back in the chair. He looked out the window at the frozen lake and said,
"You have given me so much, so many blessings and me, I don't deserve a one of them. But me and you is pards and I sholey do appreciate them. And this right here, this may be one of the best. Know it won't be long en I'll be up there with you...I hope. En let me take and tell you, Mr. Man...I mean Lord, we gonna talk about this here trip we took, you and me.
"This trip of a lifetime."

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