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Date:4/16/2014 12:36:13 AM
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Country Walks and Young'uns
All countrymen and women love walks. It is our recreation at the end of a day or something that we treat ourselves to on a Sunday afternoon. When I was a teenager I loved to go on walks with my Pa. He was retired then, and took walks for his health and curiosity. It was then that he was at his most gregarious. Perhaps it was because of this that I cherished those walks. He would comment on each thing that would catch his notice. He appreciated a ready audience for his thoughts, (me) and I enjoyed the stress - free one - on - one time with him. Pa remembered the circumstances of every deer that he had shot and of almost every rabbit. One time, as we were walking the mile and a half loop through what he called "Jess Ellingson's forty," Pa pointed out a tiny valley. "That's a game pocket," he declared, "I could almost always find a rabbit or partridge there." Twenty years later, brother David and I would still hunt that area, and yes, there were still rabbits, grouse, and deer. (Don't ask if he or I have ever actually shot anything.) As a country boy, I would go on long walks by myself through the woods and fields. I was given the love of nature from my Pa and I reveled in the solitude. There was nothing better than lying in the tall wisping prairie grass on an Autumn afternoon, staring at the deep October sky. "The thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." -- Longfellow

I remember that my Pa couldn't believe how many deer I would see on my walks. Our good friend "Wild Bill" Beaudin explained it to him, "Dave, when you walk through the woods, you're thinking of killing them, when Gary walks through the woods, he's just looking at nature. The deer sense that." This would sound silly to anyone but a hunter . . . or a countryman.

My favorite walk was when I took my two and a half year old Punky for a short walk in the woods on an Autumn day in 1990. We held each other by the hand as we crossed the road and walked along an old raised railroad grade that had been laid down a century before. I pointed out anything that would be of interest to her and answered all of her questions. Then, a rain shower passed over. I went down on one knee and drew Punky close to me. I set her on my knee and covered her with my denim chore coat. We huddled together under my cloak and hood until the shower passed. Then, we resumed our walk and then returned home to lunch and then a nap. I know I'm a sentimental ol' cuss who is stuck in the past, but when I think of Punky, I think of us huddled and cuddled together, me sheltering her from the elements. It is a father's memory of a walk that will last my lifetime, if not her's. -- Gary
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