Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Don’t worry, I don’t plan on buying or wearing any of those minimal named articles of clothing, but in my eccentric mind, I made a connection of how life is like them or even more like thongs. In my life, buying something as regrettable as a thong is like the poor choices that I made. The things that are exposed are not at all beautiful and have left scars that may fade, but will never go away.
Time spent in living often match the composition of a Speedo. The material of the Speedo covers the barest of necessary things that need covered, but leave much untouched, uncovered, and regrettably unfinished. I know that I have seen so much and time has passed so quickly, it feels as though I have barely accomplished anything.
The Speedo is pliant, stretching to fit the shape that it’s put onto. Sometimes it is necessary to wear swim trunks, a Speedo will not stretch any farther to cover the bulk of the situation and a change in lifestyle is necessary.
I have my “family jewels” covered, my children. They have been raised and are having their own children and making lives of their own. The things that they do are weaving the cloth of their legacy.
Time has a way of covering only the barest of essentials. Anything that I chose to do that was extra took time away from the time I spent on “rat race” It took effort to cover more of the things that I wanted to do.
Looking back, I can see just how little the Speedos of life covered. As a new year begins, I want to resolve to slow down and do more, but will it be like so many other New Year’s resolutions? The Speedo of time won’t slow. I will have to find a way to pack more in or find a larger pair of swim trunks.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Old Swimming Holes

Several days ago, I drove by one of the places that as children, I used to swim. It threw me back to the time of my childhood and the several spots in local streams that we swam. There was only one large swimming pool in the area and it cost money to go there to use the diving board, changing rooms, and it even had a slide. I think we may have visited it two times. It was called Maple Grove, Cutty’s and it is called Pine Acres.
What I really wanted to comment on were the deep spots in streams where we would gather on hot days. The first was located beneath a bridge, between Normalville and Indian Head, Pennsylvania. It was the closest to home and it was the challenge swim. We made the challenge to swim in the deep and shaded part of the stream. The waters flowed from melted snow and ice as well as from smaller streams and springs. This water had little chance to warm as its course wound around rocks, shaded by the trees that overhang the flow. We boys would challenge each other to be in the stream before the beginning of May while the water was still icy. We had to build a fire before we swam here, even later in the year when the sun was hot.
The one most frequented was the farthest away. We would walk to our friend’s home along the way and together and hike together. Once all eight of us did pile on an old Ford tractor and ride there. It was probably three miles from our home, but it was more fun because it was a larger dammed area and there were usually others there. The water was warmer because the water was slower moving covered a larger area.
The final place I’m going to mention is very close to Indian Head. There used to be an open field where kids would gather to play softball. There was no backstop or outfield fencing, only green briars and weeds. The draw to play ball here was the nearby creek. It was a secluded spot, dammed by kids and only twenty yards from the ball field.
Playing ball under a summer sun was hot work for kids and the water of the stream was cool and refreshing after however many innings we played. Entering the wooded bank of the stream, we shed our inhibitions and our clothing to “skinny dip.” The plunge into the water was an exhilarating experience. It was a glorious feeling. Hidden from prying eyes we swam and dove like otters, frolicking in the cool shade and water.
The only drawback was when a train would roar by on the far bank. Every naked boy would head to deep water and watch the train roll by with water lapping beneath our chins. The engineer would smile and wave. We were sure that he knew what we were doing. After all, he had been a kid once, too.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Grand Christmas

It was a whirlwind day of Christmas, yesterday. It started with the routine thinks of checking my e-mail, going on Face-book, posting an old postcard from my growing collection, and grabbing a bite so I could take my medications. Then, it was gathering the final things to go to my sister, Kathy’s house for brunch. After the meal and gift openings, Kathy pulled out some old photos and we began to sort them. We divided the ones that belonged to our immediate family and she stored the rest for safekeeping.
My sister lives in Indian Head, Pennsylvania. It is the house that my grandfather, Edson Thomas built and that Kathy and her husband, Douglas, have beautifully remodeled.
Then we came back to my house near the little town of White, Pennsylvania. My daughter, Anna’s boyfriend, James drove to his house to open gifts with his family. We got the evening meal ready while we waited and my son-in-law, Eric, reattached the wires to a new television that I bought. My old one had developed lines and made watching it a distraction. My daughters, Anna and Amanda were cutting and creating in the kitchen, while my granddaughter, Hannah, was being her usual curious and rambunctious self, playing with whatever she could find. The toy basket isn’t as interesting at the other things at Pappy’s house.
As I sat waiting, I remembered something that my sister had said and connected it with a photo I had placed on Face Book as we waited. It was a photo of my grandmother, Anna, in 1903, when she was only 18 years old. The thoughts were of those unmarked pictures and perhaps my aunt, Dorothy could recognize some of them. I called Dorothy and made arrangements to meet later in the evening.
The Christmas tree had already been lit and my new treasured Christmas bulbs were incorporated into the hordes that were already hanging on the tree. James returned and we opened gifts. The usual “snowball fight” with discarded and balled wrapping paper didn’t happen and I am not sure why it didn’t.
Finally, it was time to eat. It was not a fancy meal, just a hearty soup, two large, freshly-baked, sandwich rings, and cookies for dessert. I finished my meal and bid the family adieu. I was off to Dorothy’s house for some reminiscing and perhaps some labeling of some other photos. Her son-in-law, Don Hodge was there. He is a family historian and into research into family lineages. I knew he would be there and I was especially eager for him to see the photos and to glean what he could from them.
Dorothy did recognize a few more photos and did enjoy looking at them. Don and I talked and he shared things about family burial plots in Donegal, the Nedrow-Fergueson cemetery in Somerset as well as our ancestors burial spots in Bakersville, Pennsylvania. They were the first Beck’s to arrive in America from Germany.
He photographed many of the photos that I had brought. It would help him with faces and names as he did ore research on our family. I enjoyed talking with them and renewing bonds that time had frayed. I enjoyed the evening.
It was time to go home and to settle down, put the feet up, and relax before bedtime. Al in all it was a busy and productive day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Remember…

As I grew up, there was a television program, I Remember Mama. I can’t remember many of the plots, but I can recall that they all centered on the family; day to day problems, familial love, and their integration into the community. Black and white images still flicker across my brain, mostly still shots of their faces.
My memories of Christmas’s past do much of the same only in color. Cousins by the dozens would gather at my grandparents’ large rambling farm house in Indian Head, Pennsylvania. The din and the laughter rise from the cobwebs of my brain. Cookies of all kinds were toted in by my aunts for the occasion. My grandmother always made popcorn balls and would sometimes put the meats of butternuts in some of the syrup covered popcorn.
My grandfather, Ray, was a short statured quiet man. A smile rarely left his face, surrounded by his raucous progeny. Now, that I’ve aged, I understand that feeling. There are people who will not be here for Christmas again this year, claimed either by distance or death. That saddens me, but there is still love that the Christmas season brings and eases those feelings.
My grandmother Rebecca was always busy. If she wasn’t cooking or baking, she was directing the aunts what to do or where to place the food. If she ran out of those, she shooed kids from under her feet. She was a larger framed person who had very few gray hairs until later in life.
Christmas at my grandparent’s Beck was more subdued. We went to their home in single family groups. Strict Pentecostals there was less decorating and less laughter, but the memories are still just as tender. The hardest thing was sitting on their old excelsior filled couch and chairs. The upholstery was scratchy and the seats were hard. It was difficult to sit while the adults talked without squirming. Usually, there were gifts for us, socks, a few dollars in a card, and maybe a piece of fruit.
When I married and began celebrating Christmas in my own home, my wife Cindy tried to create memories for our own kids.  She was worse that I was at the holiday. We would be up late, wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree. It didn't matter what time it was we went to bed, she would be awake at 5 a.m. and would make noises until our kids would be wakened.
Cindy wouldn’t snoop until the gift was wrapped. I could have placed a bag of unwrapped gifts on her side of the bed and they would be undisturbed, until they were wrapped. She would make excursions to the tree, poking and prodding, and trying to find what she got for Christmas. It became my mission each year to disguise her gifts and to make some challenges for her. I would wrap her panties around a cheap package of combs; hide jewelry in a Pringles can, or other unusual ways of camouflage.
The panties became a traditional gift for her. Struggling, as most families do when first married, she walked by me, one side of her underwear came loose from the elastic and drooped. “I said, “You need to buy some new underwear.” She replied that they were still okay to wear. When she walked by me again, I grabbed the droop and finished ripping the material from the waistband. She said, “Now, you have to buy panties for me,” and so it became a tradition, Christmas underwear for her.
The ring that I hid in the Pringles can came in a Lucite box. With her shaking, it came loose and rattled. Because of the gifts that I would but to stump the snooping, Cindy thought it was one of those kid games with the Bee Bees that needed to be maneuvered into place into holes of a picture. She tossed it back beneath the tree, untouched until Christmas Day. It was the last gift that she opened. Her eyes brightened, a smile spread across her face, and she mouthed, “Is it real?”
I guess that because the ring was real, Christmas and our love became more real as well.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a wonderful New Year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Spirits of Christmases Past

I want to share just a few recollections of Christmases that our family celebrated together. One that came to mind is about our mother, Sybil. Mom had allergies to peanuts, eggs, and so forth. She had one allergy that she tended to ignore at Christmas and that was pine. She had to have a live tree and would sniffle her way through the holiday season.
What makes it a memory was that she was taking a bath and heard a thump. She quickly dried off, slipped on a house coat and went to investigate. What she found was the tree sprawled on the floor of the family room where it had fallen over. She decided to push it up and lean it against the wall until Dad could secure it.
Grasping it securely, she began to hoist it back into position. As she did, her gown opened in the front, exposing her chest to the scratching, pricking short needles of the pine tree. Now, she is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Does she drop it or does she finish the job and push it upright? My mom was never a coward and the tree was pushed up against the wall. Mom told us that she developed a long lasting red rash on her chest from the encounter with her enemy the tree.

The tree topper for as long as I can remember was a thick, translucent plastic star that had a red plastic connector that framed the ornament. That star was always a special part of the holiday when Dad hung it and it was lighted.
The other ornament that was an integral part of Christmas was an older frosted glass irregularly shaped bulb. I claimed it as mine and hung it on the tree every year. It was gold-green in color and had white frosting bands encircled the high point ridges of it.
Mom allowed me to take it when I became married to my wife, Cindy, and it was one of the bulbs that graced our tree at our first Christmas. That bulb became part of our newly formed family’s tradition of the season. Then, one year, it mysteriously disappeared. There was no trace, no ransom note, and no one claimed responsibility for its exodus to worlds unknown.

This year, my sister, an E-bay cruiser, found a tree topper similar to the one that graced out tree so many years ago and bought it for me. She told me how to browse the E-bay pages and as I did, there was the ornament that I had claimed as mine. It was bunched with several others, but it was the same beloved bulb and it called my name. My sister, Kathy, bless her soul, already had an account and put a bid in on it. I assume that she got it and will have to wait until Christmas to find out. The star or the bulb one will be a gift and the other, I will reimburse her for the costs.
The last memory that I will share is of my father, Carl. He wasn’t an expressive man, didn’t say much, and his “I love you’s” were almost non-existent. Each year, my wife and I would try to get a gift that would try to get him to express that he was happy with what he’d gotten. Nada.
One year, my brother suggested that since he recently joined the fire department, we get him a jacket to match the other members. The members told Dad that they couldn’t order more. Dad was disappointed. I told my brother, Ken, that I wanted to try to get one and I wanted to buy it myself. I wanted to finally paste a smile on his face from a gift I bought him.
I drove to the store where the fire department ordered the jackets and found one display jacket left. It was Dad’s size. I was able to sweet talk the owner into embroidering Carl on the front and sew on all of the patches for the fire department to it.
Dad still didn’t do much more than mumble thanks when he unwrapped it, but when he held it up in front of him, smiled and put it on right away told me I’d finally done it. He had gotten a gift that he really liked.
             Merry Christmas and I hope that this has stirred a memory or two from your own holidays past.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Shopping Etiquette

My mom, Sybil Beck, was a fun-loving, but firm mother in many ways.  I was reminded of an incident that happened while shopping by a posted video on Face Book. The video was of a boy who looked about five or six years old, ramming a shopping cart into the person in front of the boy and his mom with one of those mini-shopping carts. The man being assaulted tried several times to push the cart and child away with gentle shoves and redirections, but the child returned to use his battering ram. Meanwhile, the mother seemingly unconcerned, allowed the youth to repeatedly push the cart into the other shopper.
Finally, the man had enough and reached into the child’s cart and removed a small carton of milk. Then he proceeded to open it and dump part of the contents onto the boys upturned and smiling face. The smile disappeared and so did the child. The mother, apparently insulted by the male shopper’s lack of decorum, grabbed her child’s hand and left the area.

My mother would never have permitted it to go that far. The incident that I thought of was a shopping trip at a large grocery store. My brother, Ken, was pushing the cart. It was something that he liked to do and Mom allowed him. I think he got bored because it was a large store and Mom had a long list, because he began to drive the cart from side to side in the aisle instead of driving in a straight line.
Soon, that wasn’t enough and looked for other ways to amuse himself. What he settled on was to lag behind, then charge ahead. At the last moment, he would leap into the air and slam his shod feet onto the buggy’s back two wheels laying black rubber wheel tracks onto the tile floors. Mom didn’t notice what was happening behind her until she turned o place something in the cart and caught him in the act. When she looked behind him, she saw that the entire aisle was a trail of black marks where Ken and the cart had been.
She took over control of the cart and warned Ken, “If you ever do that again, I will march you up front to the manager and have you clean the floors for him. Someone has to clean the floors at night and you are making his job harder.”
That put a stop to the grocery cart drag racer, although when my brother grew older, he did drag race souped up 1972 Dodge Demon. It was black with two white racing stripes from the air scooped hood across the top and back down the trunk. I would kid him that it looked like a skunk.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Even Gray Days 

Ice on black branches
becomes nearly translucent
in the thick, gray fog.

As I was driving home through a thick gray fog that had been lingering day and night for several days, I was feeling a bit down and out of sorts. There was only wan, filtered sunlight. The daytime was wrapped in a depressing gray cloak. I think that I was on the verge of giving in to the doldrums when I noticed that the cold temperature and the thick fog had transformed the black and bare branches to an icy crystal covering. The mist had draped itself on the limbs and made transient diamonds where there was once only coal hue.
The crystal of the ice hid the dark branches and made them almost transparent and invisible against the gray curtain of mist. Driving and seeing the spectacle from different angles developed into a kaleidoscope of ever-changing patterns. The shapes continued to change, but not the clear lack of color that covered the branches. It was remarkable. It changed my vision from the thinck blanket of fog to what the fog had created.
The scenes changed from tree to tree. Some were straighter while others were twisted and gnarled. The dark green leaves of the Mountain Laurel took on an impressive new color and sheen. Trees that still retained some of their leaves became a cascading fountain of shining brown heavy with the armor of ice.

It became apparent that so often we are distracted by the big things in life that we miss the beauty that is all around us. It is as easy as shifting our focus or looking at things from a different perspective. I marvel at what God can do with some cold air, a little water, and uplifted arms.

Monday, December 15, 2014


I recall so many things and they sometimes jumble together and not enough to link together as a post. So, I will circle the wagons around my uncle Amos Jacob Stahl and his wife Helen Irene Beck-Stahl. They were a good-hearted couple with six kids. George, Barbie (She calls me Tommy so I have to tease her with Barbie and not Barbara), Glenn, Dottie (Dorothy), Anna Gail, and Larry. Each paragraph may be just a short fleeting recollection with Jake , Helen, and family as the only thread.
Their home was perched on a hillside above Indian Head, Pennsylvania. The kids would spread out in the town, playing with their friends. When it was time to eat or for the kids to be home, Jake would stand on the side porch and bellow. It could be heard everywhere in town and kids would head for home.
Helen was an extremely clean person. With all of the kids, I think it was nearly impossible, but she did chores like washing, ironing, baking, etc set for specific days. On top of that she had a room that she did what we would call a “spring cleaning” for each day. She had a little ball of a belly that would jump and shake when she laughed and always dressed to the nines when she left the house, high heels, purse, and pearls.
Jake was an excellent stone mason. Built like a small tank, he was robust, rotund, and had short legs. His always drove an Oldsmobile automobile. The combination of the shortness of his legs and the size of the steering wheel, he ended up with a worn area on the front of his pants. To provide for his family, he moved to Orlando, Florida so that he could work year-round.
I recall stories of the kids taking coal shovels and cardboard to sled ride in the winter while they lived in Pennsylvania. The story was told that they took off their shoes and had them beside the road as they sledded. The snow plow came through and many of the shoes couldn’t be found until the spring thaw.
Once when our family visited for a meal, there were no mashed potatoes left. Jake placed slices of bread on our plates and we were introduced to “gravy bread.”
Helen was struck by lightning. I believe it was three times. Her favorite footwear, like the kids, was bare. They had a small, uncovered, concrete back porch-stoop. She would go out there to shake rugs etc. That is where the nearby strikes jolted her.
When I was stationed in Orlando as a naval corpsman, they would be offended if I didn’t visit every weekend that I was free. It was a bus ride for me to their home, but I was always made welcome. I wanted to pass these memories that I have as a tribute and a thank you to Helen, Jake, and their family.

Friday, December 12, 2014


There are so many unassociated and disassociated ideas vying for my attention this morning, but none are actually long enough to write with any length and many may think that is a good idea. So I will randomly write about things that press.

The first is that I woke to the fragrant and spicy aroma of my venison jerky curing in the dehydrators. It wasn’t finished and the smells had my breakfast appetite whetted. I settled for some hash brown potatoes and a cup of tea.
I did break out some ibuprophen. I was sore from hunting and walking yesterday with my brother. My hips, ankles, and knees were glad to get in out of the cold, windy, snow covered hills of Somerset County.  We did see some deer and one of the guys with us was able to shoot one.
The package to my son, Andrew and his family is on it’s way to Amarillo, Texas and I am sending a birthday card today for Celine and later in this month is my daughter-in-law Renee’s birthday. So, I will hunt for a card for her. I am not a Hallmark junkie like some, but I have to find a card that is what I want to say, inside and out.
Tomorrow, if the snow holds, I may break out the cross country skies and shuffle around my yard to try them out. They were only $5.00 at a yard sale for the skis, poles, and the boots. I should get my money’s worth, even if I make one circuit of my yard.
This year has certainly gone by fast. In a way I think it is because I don’t have the daily routine of employment days to measure the time. Days swiftly turn into weeks then months without the marking of days.
Sally is an active octogenarian and when I wrote my one story, she read the love scene. It was on the beach and she said, “They would have made love in the water. No one wants sand in their crack.” Well, she invited our writers group to her house for a Christmas party today. I made a “Sand” dessert for her, decorated with “beach” umbrellas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Venison Cornucopia
This year I was able to get an eight point buck during the Pennsylvania antlered deer season. It was close to my home place, just along Poplar Run Road. I was glad that I didn’t have to trudge too far off the roadway, I sprained my ankle more than a month ago and I still have pain in the joint. As long as I am careful, it isn’t bad, but the strength to keep it from happening again on the uneven surface of the woods isn’t there. I don’t want to reinjure it.
Another good thing is that my brother has an ATV quad and I didn’t have to drag the heavy carcass too far. Those off road machines are great for older guys like me. It’s not that I mind the exercise, but there is a small leap to a heart attack with the heavy towing.
Ken, my brother, and I hauled the buck back to an outbuilding on his property. We hung it on a lift and peeled off its hide to let it hang and cool before I would take it home to butcher.
I spent most of the past two days cutting up the carcass and wrapping it to freeze. I butcher my own deer, because I want to be sure that I get the same deer, the same amount of meat back, and a deer that hasn’t sat around unrefrigerated for days. I remove the meat from the bones before I cut the meat. Deer bones are brittle and often will shatter when cut by a band saw. If the bones don’t shatter, the saw makes a “saw dust” of ground bone that I don’t like either.
I remove the inedible bits and hair. Some butcher shops are careless in these things. If I find anything that I don’t like, I know who to blame. I got almost fifty pounds of steak and “chunk meat.” Chunk meats are the smaller pieces of venison, too small for steaks. I sometimes cold pack it, grind it and make it into bologna or sausage. This year, I decided to freeze it in bags with smaller portions.
There were some pieces that I cut specifically and put aside to use for jerky. Yesterday, I made the marinade for the venison strips, poured it over the orts of meat in gallon bags, and placed them in the cold on my back porch to allow the flavors to permeate the meat. This evening, I will start to dehydrate it.
My mom bought two smaller dehydrating “ovens” that holds several racks. The low level of heat slowly dries the meat, vegetables, or fruits placed inside.
The leftover scraps don’t go to waste either. I could have cooked everything in a large spot and made a meat pudding like my ancestors, but I stated over the last few years to put all of the inedible bits into the rib cage cavity and hang it in a tree at the edge of my property. It looks more like Halloween, but for the crows, ravens, and the blue jays it’s Thanksgiving with the rib cage being a cornucopia of fresh food for them.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Gray Skies

There are times that gray skies make me feel sad and depressed. Not as in a clinical depression, but more like I feel down. It is more so since my wife, Cindy, has passed. Many times I really don’t notice the skies, either I am inside writing, taking a nap, or my daughter is home and that keeps me busy. But when the gray skies have sleet or snow, or rain, I do notice because they tap on the windows to get my attention.

The intensity and hues vary with the type of weather. It can range from a silver-white with a misty rain to a dark gray from ice and snow laden winter clouds. They can appear as almost a midnight blue of a spring thunderstorm to a sickly gray-green of possible tornado weather.
Some days it’s smooth and one solid color as though it had been spray painted or rolled on. There are days when it looks like swirls of cotton candy. Broken clouds look as though they were spread through the sky with a palette knife, thick, patchy, and broken.
Gray clouds may by wispy, like a veil of tightly woven spider webbing, barely concealing the sun. The very solid and dark clouds seem almost oppressive, hanging low and swallowing up Old Sol.

One scene that I always love is a stand of trees that can be seen from my front porch. In the spring and summer the green of the leaves hide the nakedness of their branches and trunks. In the autumn, the colors blaze against the background sky, but my favorite happens infrequently. It is when the leaves have all fallen and before the snow decides to blanket them. The clouds are a deep gray-blue and as the sun sets, it lights up the front of those trees. Their nearly white trunks almost glow, framed by the cobalt of the sky behind. It is a glorious thing to behold. I watch until the bark darkens and the sun disappears.
Gray clouds can bring me down if I allow it or they can be a thing of great beauty, It is my interpretation of what I see and how I internalize it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Managing a Manger

Today, I decided to break out of my lazy mode and get busy. I got up early and was able to get an eight point buck. Taking it to my brother’s place, we skinned it and hung it to cool in one of the out buildings. While we skinning it, I got a call from my daughter that there had been a cancellation and if I could go at 10:45, they could fit me in. I said yes and went with blood stains and mud spattered jeans.
When I got home, I began the renovation of a plywood manger scene. I had cutouts of Mary holding Jesus, a standing Joseph, two sheep, and the manger. I made them about twenty-five years ago. They decorated my yard each Christmas, but stopped when they began to fade and get worn looking. They have been tucked in my basement for almost fifteen years.
They weren’t good enough to display and because they were handmade by me, I couldn’t throw them out. I’ve been eying them for most of last week and decided it was time to refurbish them and stake them out for this Christmas season.
One sheep was beyond repair and I used my jigsaw to cut another. Spreading them out in the basement, I went from one to another repainting the figures. The hues weren’t quite the same, but it wasn’t necessary to match them, I painted over them with the new colors. The original palette was chosen from small amounts of the leftover cans of paint that I hadn’t thrown away.
Mary is sitting, holding a swaddled baby Jesus. Her dark hair and dark blue robe, highlights the holy infant. Joseph is standing holding his staff in brown and green robes, his face vivid against his black hair and beard. The two sheep are painted white with black faces, one is lying down and the other is standing.
Tomorrow, I hope to build a triangular background to support Mary and Joseph. They are taller and need support to stay erect in the wind. I’ll fasten them to the triangle to be more solid and to remain standing against the wind. At the apex, I have a light up star and two solar spotlights to illuminate the scene.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Weather or Not

There was one time when the weather or no matter how I was feeling, I would have gone buck hunting this morning, but several things changed my mind. The first was that I awoke with diarrhea and stomach cramps. The second was that this year I would be hunting alone. My hunting partner got his deer in archery season and it isn’t nearly as much fun as hunting with friends.

Another reason is that my granddaughter Hannah is visiting. I love the time I can spend with my grandkids. A final reason is that I have an appointment to have my lawn mower serviced before I park it for the winter.

The weather in past hunts has ranged from weather similar to today’s rain and fog to cold and blustery. One winter, it was so cold that the water bottles we had in our pockets froze. We had to build a fire and set them beside it to partially thaw.

I always carry something to build a fire. Matches are essential as a fire starter. The other thing is that I carry either Tootsie Roll or Bit-O-Honey miniatures. They serve a dual purpose. They are good to eat and they are wrapped in waxed paper. The waxed paper makes a great fire starter and will burn hot enough to get damp slivers of wood to burn.

I have so many great memories of hunting with my grandfather, brother, and father. Memories of wading thigh-high snow, sitting quietly and listening for movement, and treading through the woods often come to mind. I think of my dad who was upset because he thought someone was sitting in his favorite spot. Later he found that someone had left their orange hat behind after using it on a behind.

Other memories include seeing poopcicles on low hanging branches. Drips marked the spot my dad had visited and vacated, or should I say evacuated. I have memories of marching up and down steep hillsides, riding a four-wheeler and the freezing from the below zero temperature, as well as days of sunshine and light snow.

Then there are the acts of butchering and cutting up our own deer. I find it more preferable than taking it to a shop where I am not sure how long they will keep it, how clean the facility is, if I am getting the same deer or the same amount of meat that you gave, and by doing it myself, I know who to blame if there is hair on it. The final reason is that I cut the meat away from the bone, because venison bones are more fragile, will shatter, and I hate splinters.

Good memories can be made in all types of weather, whether good or bad.