Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Hunting He Would Go

Daddy had a gun and a dog which was a farm dog.  You would see Daddy take out his gun one night and take lots of things apart,  clean, oil with the 3 in 1 oil, put things back where they came from and polish the wooden part of the gun.  Daddy worked away from the farm all week on Saturdays he would go hunting.

After a good warm breakfast, he with gun and dog would leave home and return around noon with nothing to show for his morning.  Oh, he caught up on the local gossip and knew who had killed a deer this past week, stop by and get some deer meat when we were out.  Daddy never killed anything on these Saturday morning hunting trips.  He would trap a rabbit or kill a squirrel in a tree by the yard, these would be processed and we would eat them.  Well, we did not have to eat them if we did not want to.  Momma did not eat game and she would let us have a choice.  I remember eating some wild rabbit and thought it was good.

Every year Daddy would go hunting and I could not understand why he would stay out in the woods if he never bagged anything.  Oh, he had his turkey caller and he would sit and call turkeys but they never came.  One Saturday morning, Daddy added the hatchet to what he was carrying on his hunting trip.  I knew today would be the day, he would bring something home.  That evening he told us  he found where the deer were sleeping at nighttime.  Momma asked if he knew where they spent their days?  Momma said to Daddy, "you can't hunt at night," and he agreed with her.

After church on Sunday, I could see Momma was rushing to get lunch on the table.  When it was time to clean the kitchen, Daddy told me to go get my coat and boots.  Dress warm because we were going to look for a Christmas tree and it may be a long walk.  Daddy would look and look for the right tree.  We always cut a cedar tree from the woods.  The tree was put in a bucket of water for a few days, it was put up and decorated on Christmas Eve and taken down on New Year's Eve.  You could not have anything unfinished from last year on New Year's Day, so the tree and decorations had to be taken down and the tree thrown away.

Daddy and I start our walk for a tree and every tree I see is not the right one.  Too big, flat on one side, not full enough, I am about to give up for this year there would be no tree.  I come to a path which was freshly cut and started walking down it.  Under pine trees there were lots of pine needles packed down why this must be where the deer are sleeping.  I look around and there it is, a cedar tree that if you cut it about 2 feet off the ground it would be perfect.  "Daddy, come over here and look at this tree, I think it is the one for us."  Everything around the base of the tree had been chopped away and it was just setting there waiting for us to take home.

Daddy had the saw to cut the tree with and he kept asking if I was sure this was the one.  Yes, We have to have this tree.  It is waiting for us to take it home and decorate for Christmas.  Voices, I hear voices. Daddy cut this tree someone is coming and they may be the ones who cleaned around this tree and they are coming for it.  Daddy laughed at me.  Through the woods the voices are getting closer.  I know who that is, it is Momma and my sister.  They came right to the tree that Daddy and I had been looking for all afternoon.

I had no idea what had happened until I was older and Momma told me about Daddy's hunting trips.  He really was only hunting for the perfect Christmas tree and he would mark the way there with his hatchet cuts. Momma and my sister would come the most direct way while Daddy and I were roaming around in the woods.  I know we always had a wonderful tree, Daddy would put the lights on and he would do a lot of the decorating of the tree.  Momma enjoyed getting a new decoration every year and surprise us when the tree was being decorated.  I remember the bubbling lights, lights which were snowmen and Santa's.  The year we had the 5 light candles in the windows of our living room, with extension cords running everywhere, which we thought were beautiful and there were the bulbs for them in a few years which looked like a flame.  Our house was a F. W. Woolworth's advertisement during the holidays.

I still to this day when I see a cedar tree about 8 feet tall feel the need to check it out for a Christmas tree.  One of the most important things in my celebration of Christmas is a walk through the woods looking for holly, running cedar, finding a place where the deer sleep.  Yes, I am lucky to have woods which I can walk through and remember days of long ago when the only thing Daddy ever bagged was our Christmas tree.

                         Bring down the box of decorations from the attic.
                                       This one was made by my sister.
                                                I made this one.
                                    And here is one with writing on it!
                                     Bootsie, time for you to go to bed.