Sunday, November 9, 2008

There’s something wonderfully special about being in the woods when the day breaks especially when you are a ten year old boy and you are there with your Grandpa "helping" him run his trap lines.
The crickets and tree frogs along with the hoot owls had long ceased their evening serenades. The wind was but a light whisper. The air was crisp and cool . The ear flaps on the old cap Granny Kelley had insisted that I wear were tied beneath my chin and along with the extra layers of clothes I was wearing I pretty near kept from shivering; yet, I was excited to be there because I knew that doing outdoor things like this was the kind of things us Kelleys did. The path we were following was lined with different kinds of trees and the closer we got to the nearby stream the thicker they seemed to grow. I knew the stream we were headed to was Rock Creek. It was only a quarter mile or so from Pa and Granny’s house to the creek and I had been down there other times while on a hike or to fish but this was my first trip this early in the morning and to go with Pa to check his traps. Rock Creek heads a few miles southwest of Hodgen and meanders its way northward between the hills until it reaches the valley south of the hill that crests between Hodgen and Conser - just down the hill from where Francis "Skunk" King lived - where the creek turns due east aways then curves to the north and flows on to where it joins the mighty Poteau River a little west of the highway bridge. The part of the creek we were going to is probably about one-half a mile from where Rock Creek runs into Poteau River. Rock Creek there is usually neither wide or deep but there are pools that are wider and deeper and these are the places where Pa Kelley would have his traps hidden. A short distance from the creek Pa stopped and told me that we would wait there until the sun came up. Soon the serrated line of the tree tops to the east became lined with gold and the breeze stirred a little more. The palpable calm of the woods lessened as the brightness increased and day noises brought the woods to life. The squawking crows were the first to herald the new day with a variety of song birds soon joining the chorus. The motion of Pa’s arm rising slowly with his finger pointing toward the branches of nearby hickory tree brought my focus to two squirrels as they chased one another hither and thither from one limb to another with greater agility than any circus acrobats could ever muster. With our way now clearly lighted Pa led the way on down to the creek where he checked the first of his traps. At each site where there was a trap hidden, Pa would point out the tracks that different animals had made during the night. The most common were tracks of "coons" , "possums", skunks, and deer, but he also showed me where the weasels, muskrats, and fox had come down to the creek. The traps that morning didn’t have but a couple of catches but that didn’t seem to bother Pa Kelley much. He told me that he would be taking the traps up soon. It was late in the season and before long the furbearers would be shedding their winter fur. The winter’s trapping had been good and he would soon be ready to take his tally of skins to sell. With my "help" Pa soon had the two possums skinned and the hides rolled tightly into neat bundles which he put into the large pockets of his jacket. Our strides back to the house were somewhat quicker than when we came down the path to the creek. Granny Kelley had promised to have hot biscuits ready when we got back - you know the kind that you can stick your thumb into and pull it out and fill in the hole with molasses or black berry jelly. All children should have times to remember like the one that I had that morning. I am glad that I have more than a few.


At November 10, 2008 at 10:22 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I was never much of a hunter, or fisherman, tho I went fishing with dad a few times. That was probably very memorable to have gone with your grand dad, then get back home to those biscuits made by your grand mother. Great story, Colin, do them more often. Thanks.

At November 10, 2008 at 11:47 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

That was a good one, Colin. I wish my memory were as good as yours. The detail that you add to your stories make one feel that he's there with you.

Keep it up!


At November 22, 2008 at 2:42 PM , Blogger Bill Hinds said...

Hey Colin,

Great Story!

When I was a boy, 10 - 12 or so. My older brothers, Don & Jerry, would set traps and we would take dogs to tree possums. We would skin them and put the hides on a board shaped like a small ironing board to cure them before selling them. Of course I didn't get any of the money, I was the "little" brother. :)


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