As much as I loved softball, it was simply not in my genes to be very athletic. After leaving sixth grade and the grade school for the Junior High in a different town, I didn't participate in any athletic capacity in organized athletic events, save the required PE class.
As a matter of fact, my sixth grade class was the last in Eliza Grade school. In an effort to minimize expenses, the school district relocated the students to New Boston Grade School. Luckily, the school building is still used as a community center.
It was no secret that my maternal grandmother did not like my Dad. Rather than speak my mind, keeping quiet seemed the best course of action. After all, she was my elder, and not one to be disrespected by her grandson, regardless of how disrespectful and incorrect her statements were.
And, so I learned a valuable mis-lesson that coincided with my inherent shyness; stay quiet.
That old rifle and I would bask in the raw sounds of nature. There was no right or wrong; nature has no morals; nature survives. Days spent among the glacier carved valleys and streams communing with raw nature is a sublime experience everyone should have the opportunity to partake.
And here is another picture, courtesy Google Maps. The farm, all 60 acres are highlighted by the yellow rectangle. The farm building are indicated by the red circle, and believe it or not, when I was twelve, the area highlighted in blue were my basic boarders.
It was quiet, there was no one else during my wanderings to confuse my explorations. It was simple nature, physics, chemistry, biology, geology; all things that I could grasp, minimally at any rate. People; on the other hand, there was no grasping.
So, I wandered and thought and explored; this 'pre-teen' and his Dad's .22.
Even as a thirteen year old, my dad trusted me to guide his friends on mini-hunting trips. One winter night, the type where the world seems to have stopped and the stars and Milky Way seems to be only an arm's length away, my Dad was sick and could not guide his friend on a raccoon hunt.
"Now, listen to Kenny, he knows his way around out there, OK?" my Dad cautioned his friend.
It was bone chilling cold when we departed the warmth of the wood heated house; in the teens if I remember correctly. My brother, only eleven years old, placed in my care, came along for the hunt.
I do not mean to disrespect those who have passed, but this fellow should have just stayed back at the house and played cards. Only two things defined him as partaking in a raccoon hunt: his raccoon dog; and his gun.
We walked to the northeast, into the woods. At the first creek, we turned south to follow it. Knowing where we were at that point was not an issue. Roughly an hour later my landmarks ended. "Stan, we really should turn right here and go up over the field."
"Oh, nah. Just a little further." Well, I still knew roughly where we were but said nothing. Then we saw the 'No Trespassing' sign. That was no good. One neighbor was very strict keeping trespassers out.
I spoke up, "Stan, Eliza Creek is right ahead. We really need to turn around."
"We can't leave the dog out here alone!"
I wanted to tell him that my cats had more raccoon hunting ability than his dog, but I just followed.
Ten minutes later we were on the banks of frozen Eliza Creek. "OK, Stan... Lem and I are freezing. We NEED to turn around and go up that ridge and go home."
With numb feet I followed as he turned and followed Eliza Creek; not the way I indicated. Lem was doing fine but a little chilly. I was becoming hypothermic. This place was new and honestly, I recognized nothing.
About 15 minutes later, he wanted me to get him back to the farm. Telling him I was not certain of the best way, he became pissed off, grabbed my brother's hand and walked quickly down the shore of the now partially frozen creek.
My boot broke through ice. Pulling up, I continued walking. Three, four, five, six steps. Something was wrong. I was walking in a patch of wild raspberry bushes without a boot. There was no pain from the thorns. The other two were far ahead when I ran back and grabbed my now water filled boot out of the stream.
My foot sloshed, numb to the world. Ahead, some other hunters had met Stan and Lem, and put then in their pickup. I got in and they took us home. My feet were white and wet and cold and numb. The pain experienced as they came back to life with lukewarm water and the wood stove was something I could have done without. My dad had the foresight to wash out the punctures in the soles of my foot with alcohol while still numb.
Not happy with Stan, my dad asked, "Where the hell were you?"
"I don't know, some stream somewhere."
My dad turned to me, without his asking, while still shivering I answered in a truly not happy tone, "Eliza Creek."
What my Dad said to Stan at that point is unknown. They went out for a smoke and my Mom brought us steaming hot cocoa. Later, I was told that my Dad chewed his ass out for not listening to me.
Ya, a 13 year old pwned his ass.