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There Are Friendships

Story ID:6117
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Story
Location:Truro, Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2010
Person:Richard & Esther Provencher
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There Are Friendships

"When’s he coming?" Zack mumbled under his breath. It wasn’t easy being patient when his legs itched to get going. The boy always seemed to be waiting for someone. Like dad leaving last year, whose letters dried up like autumn leaves.

Finally, Mr. Provost’s familiar red cap and jacket came into view. Wire-rimmed glasses framed a smile. His children were grown up, but the older fellow still had lots of energy to spare. Mom said he was like a surrogate father.

"Getting impatient?"

"Well...no," Zack stammered. They became friends this past summer, even going fishing a couple of times. Today they were hunting partridge, something he never did before.

"OK, time for a rest."

We just began our trip, the boy thought. "I'm not tired. Let's go..."

"Zack, sit. Hunting isn’t just rushing around. It’s observing things."

Today’s trip might not be so cool after all. He listened to poplar leaves jiggling in the wind. Gold, orange and reddish-tinged leafy trees surrounded them. It was a beautiful sight. Maybe there was something sitting and enjoying the view.

Back in Truro Zack was so busy with activities he barely had time for his homework. "What kind of tree has such beautiful colors?" he asked.

The man answered. "Sugar maples. Lots of them, eh?"

"What about that one?"

"I think it’s a red pine."

"And that’s a scotch pine to the right," the boy said.

"Yes. How did you know that?"

"My father used to work for Lands and Forests. He taught me a lot."

"Trying to test me, eh?" Mr. Provost asked, jumping to his feet. "Ready? Or do you need some more rest?”

"One more question?" Zack asked.

"Yes?”

“You stopped so we could look around. Right?”

“And take time to smell the roses!” they piped in together.

"Now I’m ready," the boy said, feeling more relaxed. They walked quietly for the next hour, listening for the unmistakable sound of a partridge.

Mr. Provost cradled his .410 shotgun in the crook of his arm.

"A rabbit!" Zack shouted. “Look!” At the sound of his voice, the small animal disappeared into the underbrush. "How come you didn't try and shoot it?" the boy asked.

"It's not rabbit season."

"Yeah, but who would know?"

"We would."

Zack mumbled under his breath. "I thought we came here to shoot something," he said.

"Did you notice the colors on the rabbit?"

"Yeah, brown with splashes of white all over."

"Good observation," Mr. Provost said. "White will be his camouflage when winter comes."

"Cool."

"Very observant, Zack. The rabbit was really charging away. I didn't think you'd see the white on his feet."

This made Zack feel special. He wasn't used to an adult saying nice things to him. Mom did, but moms have to, he thought. Since dad took off it was left for mom to be his cheerleader.

"When are we going to see some partridge? Besides, I'm getting hungry," Zack, asked.

"Which do you want to do first?"

"Eat!"

"Spoken like a true hunter," said Mr. Provost.

They ate delicious Cream of Broccoli soup from their thermos container. Mr. Provost brought the dessert, cookies and granola bars.

"Mom makes great soup," Zack boasted.

"You really love your mom, don't you?

Zack's answer was a radiant smile.

Do you want to try some target shots later?"

"May I?" the boy exclaimed almost spilling his soup. "Wow. Really?"

After eating both tidied up, then Mr. Provost set up a wood target around ten inches square. The background was a sandy hill.

"No danger this way from shotgun pellets flying across the trail," Mr. Provost advised. “Always practice safety in the woods, young man.”

Under the watchful guidance of Mr. Provost, the boy prepared himself. As the shotgun boomed, pellets slammed into the target.

"Nice shot!"

"I did it!"

"Does your shoulder hurt?"

"No. I did just as you told me. Hold the gun stock tightly against my muscle."

"Good thing you have those muscles," Mr. Provost teased.

Handing the empty shotgun back, the boy said, "Thanks for trusting me." Not far down the trail, a young doe stood watching.

"OHHH!" Zack gasped.

The noise startled the wild animal. It turned quickly and leaped into the woods. Its white tail bobbing like a flag, as it headed for new adventures.

"Did I scare it?” Zack asked.

"No."

"How come?"

"Nature warns animals to be careful around humans."

"Why?"

"Because we might be hunting her."

"But it's not deer season," Zack said.

“Except the deer isn’t quite sure,” the man said. "How come you wanted me to shoot the rabbit?"

"Well, I’m learning each animal has a special season." The boy thought for a moment. "Mr. Provost, how come we kill things?"

"I hunt to eat the game. And I also follow all the rules. Besides its a chance for me to get some exercise."

The boy nodded.

"I also get to spend some time with you," Mr. Provost added. And poked the boy on the shoulder.

Zack remembered when it used to be like this with dad. The two of them doing things together. It felt good to have someone caring about him again. The rest of the day was a challenge. It rained tiny pellets of hail and drove the man and boy into shelter under the trees.

Their return to the trail was without conversation. Each had much to think about. They had shared the trail; conversation, food and Zack even fired a shotgun for the first time.

When they finally reached their car, the boy paused then stretched as he looked around. He watched billowy clouds pile like pillows over the trees. The sun’s warmth covered his face.

The man was pleased. It had been a good day. His legs had additional energy but it was the right time to go home.

"Mr. Provost, I had an awesome time. "

Yes, the man thought, it was a good day.

"How about taking me again?" Zack asked.


© 2010 Richard & Esther Provencher