Along the Trail 4-19-12

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Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles will center

on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship

– to the simply pleasures of a late night campfire with

your son, as David talks about here. Look for more articles

coming in future editions.

*

“Are you bored, Bud?” I asked my 14 year-old as he lay

sprawled across the couch.

“No, not really” was his reply, but his body language and

demeanor told another story. “Well, I’m going outside” I shot

back.

“What are you going to do?” he questioned…

What would I do? It was too late in the day to try and hunt

mushrooms and the undergrowth taking over the woods would

make it nearly impossible to tromp around and look for shed

antlers. We could shoot our bows, but this late in the evening

would make that short-lived and there wasn’t enough time to

load up the fishing gear and head out to wet a line…

Then it came to me, a fire!

“I’m gonna build a campfire”.

Almost before I could finish the sentence, he was off the

couch, boots on and out the door.

We gathered up some tender and kindling and made our way

to the make shift fire pit at the edge of the woods. In no time,

the boy coaxed a good flame from a tiny flicker that would

make any seasoned woodsman proud. The April air was just

cool enough to make the warmth of the fire welcome. The

flames popped and cracked and danced as the smell of hickory

smoke, green cedar and even some old kiln dried 2×4’s filled

the air.

We fed the fire and poked at its orange and white coals and

watched how they breathed. We talked about hunting and seasons

past and upcoming. We talked about shots taken and hits

and misses. Deer with giant antlers and gobbling turkeys. We

talked bows and arrows and sharpening knives. Trucks and tree

stands and survival skills.

We talked about fishing and bluegill fillets and ones that got

away. We talked about school and friends and classmates and

grades. We talked about noises in the dark and night time in

the woods.

From him it was usually “Wouldn’t it be awesome if…” or “I

wish that we could…” and “When I’m older, I’m going too…”

I’d sit back and listen and nod and smile. From me it started

with, “When I was your age…” and “I remember when…” and

“We used too…” – and he’d sit back and listen and laugh.

For two solid hours, we did nothing – and at the same

time it was everything. We leaned into our chairs, prodded the

flames, bathed in the wood smoke and slugged our A&W’s

from their brown bottles.

We joked, we talked, we dreamed and we thought. We were

outdoors – but most of all we just “were”.

We were father and son.

A middle aged guy and his teenage boy just being what and

who we were supposed to be. No cell phones, no notebook or

laptop. No Dish or cable, just the two of us.

The flames start to die down as the last piece of punky wood

hisses and pops and sends sparks skyward. I take one last sip

of my root beer and glance at the young man to my left silhouetted

by the fire and wonder if he’s still bored…-

David Hewitt