This post is a follow-up from my previous post “GONE HUNTING”.
The drive up was uneventful, in that nothing extraordinary happened. There is one stretch of road that goes right through the National Forest for about thirty or so miles. I enjoy that section of road the most because for quite a while all I can see is the asphalt in front of me and about fifty to sixty foot trees (mostly pine) on either side of me. There will be the occasional hawk, deer or American Bald Eagle cross my path but for the most part it is a wonderfully time to turn off the sound system and just enjoy what may be going through my mind.
My Widowed Friend (WF) was happy to see me when I arrived around noon Thursday (New Years Eve Day). I’m not sure if he was taking a nap or had not gotten up yet. But he was asleep when I knocked on the door. We talked small talk for a bit and then I went across the road to put out the corn for all the (hopefully) hungry critters.
When I got back he told me about him shooting a coyote at 3am a couple of mornings ago. His dog was “raising cane” and woke him up. She doesn’t bark at the deer that come into the yard so he was alarmed and got up to see what had excited her. He looked out one (second floor) window and saw her barking and growling with the hair standing up on her back but could not see what she was barking at until he went to another window. It was a coyote slinking through the back yard (he had already killed two the week before in the field next to the house). WF looked in the direction the coyote was slinking and saw his white cat sleeping under a tree. So he got his 410 shotgun that only had bird shot in it, slowly cranked open the window and shot wiley coyote right through the screen!. WF said the last time he saw wiley coyote he was “head’n off into the woods in that direction.”
It was about time for me to go climb up in my stand so off I went. I have a climber I use at this spot and I was sitting about 25-30 feet up a pine tree over looking a 3 acre field that boarders a swamp. I sat until hard-dark and walked back across the road to the house, got cleaned up for dinner and off we went.
It only took us about twenty minutes to get into town. WF wanted to eat at the Shady Rest but they were closed for New Years Eve. We went to his back-up place which had an all you can eat buffet of bar-b-que, country-style ribs, fried oysters, fried clams, fried shrimp, fried scallops and home-made onion rings, plus a bunch of other stuff that they hope you will eat and lay off the seafood and ribs. Not me! I had the ribs, scallops, shrimp, oysters and onion rings. Of course I ate way too much but not nearly as much as WF did.
When we got back to the house we went upstairs to watch the VT and TN football game on television. He turned the game on with the volume off and we talked… and talked… and talked. I think I’ve been going up there to hunt since around 2000 or 2001. WF and I have never been alone with each other before. He asked me about my family and I filled him in on what was going on and showed him pictures (on my Blackberry) of everyone he asked about. We talked more that night then we have talked in all the years we have known each other combined! I had no idea he had been married before and had four children. One of his children had a massive coronary at ten days old and died. None of them have any contact with WF. I did not pry. I learned that he and his wife had been together for thirty-two years when she died last month. I heard about many of the details of their young life together and how madly in love they were with each other when they met. I told him I was a little surprised that this person and that person were not at his deceased wife’s memorial service. He told me that he and his wife talked about how people must think that cancer is contagious because they just stopped coming around to visit or too even call. I told him that at times like that some people just don’t know what to say or do so they just take the easy way (for them) and do or say nothing. I told him that at times like that some people don’t realize that it would be nice just to have a friendly face there… just be there, not to do anything, just be there.
I got up the next morning (New Years Day) and was sitting comfortably in my climber in the twenty-five degree weather at 6am. I did not see anything but I had the best “come to Jesus meeting” sitting up there. Sitting there in climber way up in the air just looking around, watching the sun rise… I prayed, I listened, I meditated, I recognised some things that I had been doing that I need to not to be doing and some things I had been doing that I needed to do differently. It was a new year and I needed to shed some old ways to enhance some new things. Although I did not see anything to shoot, my time up in that pine tree was quite profitable and enlightening.
So I went back to the house early, about 9am. WF was still in bed. So I took the truck over to where he had shown me the day before where there was an oak tree down that I could cut for firewood. I made pretty good progress in the hour or so that I cut that tree up but around 10:30ish I decided to go down the road to WF’s friend’s house. We had been invited to shoot quail with them that morning. And since WF would not get up I hollered up the stairs that I was going to head on down there.
After driving down the road for a couple of miles I had this gush of water come up over the hood and onto the windshield. I had no idea what happened so I looked at the gauges and they all read normal. When I pulled up at WF’s friend’s house a cloud of steam came out from under the hood. Some how I had blown the radiator! Did I mention that it is 11:00a.m. on NEW YEARS DAY?!?!?! So I borrowed their phone book and there is one listing in the Yellow Pages under the heading “Radiators.” The guy answers the phone on the sixth ring. I said, ‘Well I guess you’re open if you’re answering the phone.” His reply, (in a slow southern country drawl), “Well, yeh, but I’m tryn to ketchup so I kin get outta here.” Ouch! So I explained that I was from out-of-town and was really hoping to get back to my family 90 miles away. He said for me to fill up the radiator and drive it on in and he would see what he could do. So I followed someone down to the only radiator place in this small country town. He said he found one to fit but he was going to hafta charge me $27.00 more than he usually does ’cause he had to get it from a different supplier. Come back at three and he should be done. So I went back at three. They finished putting everything back together only to find out that the fan clutch was bad and that is probably what made the radiator blow. He checked with two parts suppliers in town but neither one of them had one for my truck. So here’s the coolest thing about small country town service. The shop owner, radiator repair man says to me as he’s walking to his truck; “I gotta friend who owns the other parts place. He ain’t workn today so I’m gunna go over to his house and ask him if he’ll open up and see if he’s got that part for me.” Now THAT’S small country town service for ya! But the friend did not have the part. We found one in another town 45 minutes away. So, check this out, WF tells me that I could go hunting again and he would go and get the part, bring it back to the radiator repair guy and for me to just come back to the house when I’m done hunting! Wow!
So I still didn’t see anything during that sit either. I got back to the house about 6:30p.m. and didn’t even have time to get my boots off before the radiator repair man called to say the truck was ready. Now here’s another interesting part. I don’t EVER carry my check book with me and of course I don’t normally carry $400-$500 cash in my wallet either. But as “luck” would have it I DID see a check book in the truck earlier that day! Radiator repair man said that he would take an out-of-town check “if it’s good”. (lol) So about $440 later I’m on my way back to WF’s house to load up and head back home.
My time spent with my Widowed Friend was very, very worthwhile. I got to see first hand just how terribly lonely he is and to speak some encouragement to him. I got to just be there with him. He still doesn’t feel like going out much right now so I think I’m going to make a day trip in the next couple of weeks. After all I still need to finish up that firewood… right?