24 June 2009

Squirrel Huntin' Story

Daddy on Father's Day, 2009

On my way from the kitchen to my bedroom this morning I walked past my daddy in the den. Only, I didn't quite make it past him. He was sitting in a comfortable chair looking out through the French doors into the backyard like a sentinel. He said there was a squirrel out in the backyard and proceeded to describe in great detail his activities. I was standing there holding a glass of water trying to get back to my room to think great thoughts and ponder deep truths for this very note you are reading but I couldn't just walk away from my daddy in the middle of his story.

One story became three stories for he had seen three other squirrels in the backyard that morning. One he saw from his bedroom window playing on the powerline in the backyard. Another he saw drinking water from the fountain. And yet another walked right in front of the back doors by the patio - right in front of my ordinarily alert anti-squirrel dogs but the dogs were too sleepy eyed to notice them. He found this highly amusing.

When I was the age of my son, about 10 years old, we would go hunting in the big trees by the creek in my grandfather's pasture in Harrisville, Mississippi. There would be several of us tromping through the woods after a hearty Thanksgiving meal. When a squirrel was spotted - often by my daddy as I could rarely find them amongst the high branches - my uncles loved to let my dad make the seemingly impossible shot. He would pull up his ancient 22 rifle that shot one sing bullet. He would draw a bead on an object I could barely make out if it was there at all. He would pull the trigger and a sharp "pow" would crack the air. And then a squirrel would come floating down from heaven to the ground.

More often than not he hit the squirrel in the head so as not to damage any of the "meat." We would take the squirrels back to my grandmother and she would make a squirrel stew out of them. I rarely ate it because it seemed a bit too earthy for me. But this is the way my daddy grew up, shooting squirrels in the woods for meat. He didn't buy meat in the grocery store. He and his brothers got their meat from the bountiful forest. Yes, I do believe Daniel Boone is among my ancestors on my father's side. And I think he lives on in this man who observes more life in my backyard in one brief morning than I will likely see for the rest of the year.

The Psalmist sees this same attention to detail displayed in God the Father.
He gives to the animals their food,
and to the young ravens when they cry.
Psalm 147:9

Eric Clapton wrote this song in memory of the death of his young son. "Tears in Heaven"

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