Sunday, October 23, 2016

REMINISCING: Lock Stock and Barrel

Yes, I know that this week’s Reminiscing is just a tad bit late, but there have been events in the family life which have taken precedence over sitting down to write an article. It is late Sunday night and I thought I had a couple ideas I could choose from. However, my mind is really not latching onto much of anything. Still, I will take a few moments and get something out for all my loyal readers.

It is hunting season. Well, it’s bow season, but hunting season is coming up fairly quickly. It is safe to say, however, that I am not a hunter. It’s not that I’m against hunting. I fully support people being able to hunt as long as the animal is not simply shot for sport. I believe that hunters help to keep populations from running away and becoming too big to sustain itself, or have disease run rampant through it.

I have plenty of excuses of why I don’t hunt. A couple of the top ones have to do with my queasiness with blood and guts, and the fact that hunting season is when it’s cold outside. I just don’t like the cold. Or guts. But I do love venison, especially when my mother makes meatballs to toss in with some spaghetti sauce. (That there would be a hint to anyone who hunts and wants to give me some venison burger.)

I didn’t grow up around guns. I didn’t grow up around hunting. I did have family members and friends who hunted, and my parents used to sneak venison in with some of our “normal” foods when I was a kid. Initially, I thought it was terrible meat to eat. Eventually, I grew to love it.

When Wendy and I started dating, I discovered immediately that her father, Fred, was a hunter. There were guns in the house, locked in a cabinet, but ever-present. A couple of times when I stopped over, Fred and a neighbor, or a cousin, or a friend were out back shooting at targets. That was a big benefit to living in the country.

One time, I stopped over for a visit and found Fred in the basement at a small table in the far corner of the room. He had shell casings and other equipment that I’d never seen before. Always curious, I asked what he was doing. In that inimitable, gruff manner, he told me he was reloading. Well, it wasn’t long before I was helping out. I guess I got pretty good at what he needed me to do for helping because after that day, he’d ask if I wanted to do some more reloading with him.

I’m not exactly sure what he was using the ammunition for. It could have been hunting. It could have been target shooting. I was not (and still not) overly familiar with which bullets are meant for what. However, it was a bonding time for us. As I was the son-in-law, I had to find something to be able to talk with him about. And it was fun.

We had plans that he’d take me out and teach me to shoot. Unfortunately, that never happened. He got sick and was unable to get out with the guns. Still, we did spend plenty of hours hunched over the workbench in the basement preparing for that moment, and getting his stuff ready for trips to the Southern Tier.

Yes, this is a shorter Reminiscing article, but it popped into my head. I wanted to say something about the time I spent with Fred before he passed away. He was gruff, but there was a lot of heart behind all that. We didn’t get to go shooting, and my kids never met him, but I know he’d be proud of the family Wendy and I have. Even if we don’t hunt. Or if 5 out of 6 of us don’t eat meat. He’d probably grunt, shrug, and make fun of us. And that would be okay.

Craig Bacon once shot a cannon at a Independence Day celebration. He still can’t hear you, so just stop complaining.