Saturday, August 17, 2013

Memories To Last a Lifetime: Part III


If you did not yet read Part I start here.
If you missed Part II, go here.   

As he finished throwing yet another log onto our fire, one of our hosts, perhaps feeling the tension at the fire circle or perhaps noticing our strained faces, volunteered a simple explanation for the barking, "It was just the coons out looking for coons." 

"Coons don't bark, do they? one of us, somewhat less familiar with coon behavior but still pretty confident of the answer asked?

"No, the other host chuckled, it was the Coons, our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Coon, that's their last name.  Some nights, after dinner, they like to gather their hunting dogs, hop on their Gator, head into the woods to hunt for coons."  She made the statement as casually as if she was describing her neighbors out for an after dinner stroll.  "It's a bit of a hobby for them," she added.  "I think Mrs. Coon must be really into it as she was the one out there encouraging the dogs who had a coon up a tree."

While none of us, city-slickers so to speak, spoke up right away, we were quietly digesting that this painful barking had been an after dinner stroll with the dogs.  In fact, we each sat silently, many, many questions between us, wondering about the veracity of their explanation.

Perhaps to fill the silence, or perhaps to support their story, our hosts continued, as if they were reading our minds. "They don't really catch the coons, or eat them or anything," one host volunteered, "they just like to find them, exercise the dogs, and then drive away."

"I didn't know people really hunted raccoons, anymore," I finally mumbled, "but that sure was some story." 

The fire was aglow at this point, and to be quite honest, we all started to relax, again, and enjoy the waning moments of the evening. 

Then, we all stopped as the sounds of a Gator came blasting from the other side of the  dark lake, right past our campsite, and off into the woods.  I am sure I saw someone waving and I think our hosts may even have waved back!  And in the back of the Gator, as they drove quickly by, I am pretty sure I also saw 2 (two) striped, fluffy tails flapping in the moonlight.

Part of me wished they had stopped to visit. Part of me was very glad they were taking themselves, their no-longer-barking-but-still-scary-dogs and their fresh caught tails right back to their home.

I'm sure that at least one of us was thinking about the reaction of co-workers as the story was shared, in just a few hours, at a construction site.  There might be some laughter and there would likely be disbelief.

I'm sure that at least one of us was were thinking of the reaction of coworkers in the city, a few hours later.  There would certainly be some nervous laughter and there would definitely be disbelief.

I know that part of me wanted to block out the campfire stories that began again, as the tension seemed to lift, like morning fog lifts from the lake.  Part of me wanted to head to the lean-to, grab a pen, and begin writing this story down, before my own sense of disbelief distorted the memories.

Instead, I sat listening, once again, to the story of a camping trip, long ago, when I was dubbed the Goody Queen and made infamous by a trunk full of "snacks" that may or may not have included Hostess Twinkies and Ring-Dings!  I sat listening, but was also thinking, that we, at this very moment, were making new, happy memories, that will bring smiles to the faces of each of us as this story was retold.   

In time, the busy day caught up with me and I headed into the lean-to where I lay listening, for a few moments, to the sounds of fire-side chatter, assured that the happy memories of this evening were being sealed in each of our hearts and memory vaults. 
When I awoke,  the air was cold and frankly I was very glad the dog had settled in next to me.  The day was new but the memories were vivid.  Those of us who had to return to our city-slicker jobs quickly loaded our gear into our trunks or headed over to the lake to cast our line for one last fishless cast of the season. 
There was some kidding from one who will forevermore claim he was left with a rolled up sweatshirt and a tissue because I stayed and used his bedroll (I did use his pillow).  
There was some happy running around from the dog who wanted everyone to know that this was his favorite place on earth (sorry Disneyworld).
There was a teenager, who never gets up in the morning, who got up happily.

There was a teenager who had burned up all those consumed marshmallows while sleeping and needed to refuel.
Our hosts, effortlessly produced bags of homemade granola and fresh-from-the-farm-picked-blueberries from coolers to fuel our journeys.

After abundant hugs and abundant thank yous, we were on our way through the woods.

 After showers, to wash the garlicky, smoky remains from our hair, we, the guests, headed back to our work-a-day-lives, a little tired from the longer than usual commutes, but assured of the kinds of memories that money cannot buy.    
During the days that followed, I found myself drawn to lingering questions about whether or not people really do hunt raccoons (I'll save that for another day). 

During the days that followed, I returned to my end of the summer, preparations for school, but I thought about the events of the evening often.

During the days that followed, I thought often about how families grow and change, yet are fueled, forever, with stories and love. 

During the days that followed, I wondered about the veracity of my own memory, but I was assured there were memories made up at the lake to last a lifetime.  They may, just may, someday, rival the Goody Queen stories of long ago!   



Amy Rudd said...

Wow,dogs huh...coon hunting? I'm inferring that a gator is a 4 wheeler? Great descriptions again! Thanks for sharing the story

Anita Ferreri said...

Yes a Gator is a sort of ATV - a 4 wheeler go through the woods vehicle. I'll have to find a picture to add as I really did not see it well enough to really describe it well!