There are times when a man tries to do his best and it doesn't work out. And those who were there never forget. And have a good time laughing about it.
Might have been five years ago me and the Deans were driving back from a good day's bass fishing on one of those little lakes I like so much. Could even have been the day that El Dean caught numberless largemouth by simply dragging a weighted tube along the lakes bottom. Leave it to El Dean to get the most out of the least. But it was a hoot sittin' in the back of the canoe watching him boat fish after fish. In short it was a day I'll carry with me till senility comes to visit.
We were traveling south in two vehicles down a narrow sand road in the national forest. A good one as far as those roads run but still a forestry road. Smooth enough to carry a fair amount of speed if you were willing to risk death on the blind turns. Could be it was R. Dean who was riding shotgun. Maybe not. Could be senility is closer than I think.
The area has more than it's share of pine squirrels. Lots of pine cones for them to shred and more than enough acorns for them to grow fat on before the near endless winter of the north takes hold. On this day the one scampering from the brush and onto the track was mid-spring trim. Fast and agile. And facing a fast approaching Jeep. Had I simply held my course the squirrel would have been fine. But we reacted to each other like mirror images. Left, right, left. Then another right.
I believe it was my passenger side, front tire that crushed the little feller's head. And just the head. The squirrel was dead but its tail didn't acknowledge the fact for five seconds. Waved back and forth like a little Fourth of July flag.
Forty five minutes later, back at the cabin, I was praised by the boys in the trailing truck about my dexterity and intuition as to which way the squirrel was going to dodge. And to top that off, my clean kill. I tried my best to tell them I was doing what I could to be humane but they were having none of that. Maybe the sadism has to do with their home in Iowa. Too much corn on the brain.
Of course sometimes the animals get their revenge. Just ask the wood ticks and deer ticks up north. Or the leeches and too small to be seen vermin that inhabited my body in the Mekong Delta. I figure all of those guys will eventually do me in. Or at least bring me down. Arthritis or brain death as they bore their way deep into important places. Truth is I have no idea which invaders are still hidden and waiting their day.
Seen my share of bears, only the black ones and they've never been a problem. Even scared a pair out of camp one night with a simple kissing noise. That they never entered the tent might have to do with our fragrance. The bears took one sniff and thought " No food in there, only dead people."
El Dean. I rarely do him justice. Constantly give him crap in a humorous kind of way. Truth is he's always been a fine canoe partner. Inexperienced at first but he's improved a lot over the years. Same could be said for his fishing. Like most canoe partners I'm as familiar with the back of his head as I am of his face.
Yeah, he always sits in the bow seat. During the early years his choice of seat had to do with fear of a dunking. El made it quite clear well before our first trip that on those rare times he'd paddled out in a canoe he'd never returned to shore dry. Assured me several times he wasn't happy in a butt wide boat. It was my job to assure him all would go well. Easy to say but I had my nagging doubts. Still do. But, so far, we've managed to stay dry, not including occasional downpours.
These days he still sits in the front, probably 'cause he feels secure in the fore seat or 'cause the best fishing is there. Either way it's fine with me.