John Harrigan's Woods, Water and Wildlife: About another busted rib, and a close friend gone
I busted the latest rib in a stupid move against the unyielding woodpile next to my outdoor furnace. With my pickaroon, I latched onto a 3-foot piece of maple, maybe 40 pounds, that would just fit where I thought it could go, there in the inferno.
The pickaroon was a gift from West Milan's Kevin Shyne, a longtime camp-mate who is soon off to Sacramento for a step up in profession, although we all, in our not-so-loose Gang of Uglies, will do our best to haul him back.
On the morning after New Year's, while doing dishes, I noticed tracks from a rabbit that had earlier escaped my notice. It had run from the swamp behind my outdoor furnace to the bird-feeders on the old swing set, past my dining room windows and across the front lawn to the big spruce tree, which marks where the first settlers rolled up their cabin. Alert individual that I am, I went to a dining room window to look at these tracks and discovered that this rabbit (and please, purists, do not finger-wag at me with the misuse of "rabbit") had attempted a retreat back into the swamp. The tracks simply ended, without even a "poof."
Here is how I figure it. A bird of prey (pick one) saw the hapless rabbit running for its life, as rabbits do when crossing open spaces, toward the shelter and sanctuary of the old bull spruce tree, down there where the settlers pitched their cabin (the sill marks could still be seen when I was in my teens). It then waited, or lurked (to conform to dramatic theater), until the rabbit realized that there was nothing there to eat and attempted to run, full-bore, back to the sanctuary of the swamp. And then, the hawk leapt from its perch, and with all the thrust of a Sidewinder Missile picked off the rabbit in mid-hop, leaving nary a trace.
Losing someone you've been with for four decades is a hard thing. Yet we all have to do this and endure the inevitable. Skip, The Italian Scallion, known variously as Giovanni and Geo and whatever else we called him that was not his real last name (Costello), bit the dust last week. He was part of a gang that has been together for going on 40 years. We're to meet and weep and hail him this weekend. He is the first of our original Gang of Uglies to go to the Great Beyond.
John Harrigan's address: Box 39, Colebrook NH 03576, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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