I was pacing insanely back and forth. Waiting for that one damn phone call. In the early light of the morning I was up. Packing and prepping. Packing my warm cloths. All I really had though was long johns and a Michigan Wolverines winter jacket my mom had bought me for my birthday. To warm to ware in the valley, I would put that bitch to good use up north.
It was the weekend before Halloween. The big O'l deer hunt. I was way excited. Of course, I had been on a billion hunts before, but this one, this was different. Snow. That beautiful white powder was on my mind. Sure I had seen snow before, but never falling. I was giddy as a school girl. I was a school girl. It had not snowed up there yet, but just the thought made me crazy. I had the weather channel on all week just hoping. Clear skies blurted out of his mouth. I flipped off the T.V.
The hours kept rolling by and no call from my father. I became more and more restless. 8,9,10 rolled by. He was supposed to pick me up the night before but was stuck getting the camping gear out of the "sugar shacks." (Storage). My mother was at work and my sister in school, I had no one but my self. I double checked my baggage and stared at the wall. Bear my chocolate pom would prance in to see if there was still life. Satisfied he would leave. Waiting for one damn call.
The phone rang and I shot up like a missile. Flying for the phone I dove for the receiver.
"Is it you?" My farther's dark voice looming over the line.
"Use to be" I said with a smile. So damn happy to receive this call.
"We've got a little problem." His voice never changing tones.
My heart sank. "What kind of problem?"
"Someone stole the truck from the driveway." Tone still the same.
I became insanely pissed. This was the third time the truck had been stolen. It was an 89 Chevrolet Suburban. Who knew the damn thing was so popular? Sitting on the bar stool at the counter I smashed my head into it. First at the boat show, then at the transmission shop, and now this. Every time it found it's way back. Maybe we'll get lucky. " So the hunting trip's cancelled then?"
"Hell no. I got the truck back." There was a slight chuckle over the line. " It was around the block parked in front of some guys driveway. He was on his way to work and could'int get out. Damn thing was blocking his way, so he called the cops. They called me."
I felt much relief. Strike three. Our Suburban had found it's way home once again. The vessel that had once carried a family as a whole. I twirled the phone cord around my fingers. Smiling once more. "When are you coming to get me?"
"On my way munchikin."
"Love you dad"
"I love you to." Seemed so hard for him to say.
When I got to my dad's house it was almost twelve. We loaded up the rest of the burban. I took damage control. The driver's side triangle window had been busted out. Blood was all over the steering wheel, and door locks. They had used a screwdriver to start it. My father had to use a screwdriver to start it up to because they fucked up the ignition. We were on our way and that was all that mattered.
We were traveling up north to the place we had scouted the week before Cow Hill.. It had been raining then and my father and I had spent most of the time eating red vines and staring at each other in the back of the Suburban. Even though we did not get much scouting in, I still had fun hanging out with my dad. Red vines, The Doors, and the sound of the rain pattering the top of the Suburban was the memory that imprinted itself in my mind. The dangerous thing was that we were still unfamiliar with the area.
Russ was coming with us. He was my father's friend forever. A friend to the family, I saw him as an uncle. Whenever I felt uneasy about some thing Russ was there. When it came to fear, my father knew nothing of it. He was unable to reassure me. Russ was always there to walk me through. My father taught me fear. Russ taught me how to handle it.
The trip was long and I could not keep from staring at the blood on the Suburban's doors. Injured and used, It still took us to our destination. I put my palm on the on the window every so often to see how much the temperature dropped. My dad navigating like a champ, we arrived at our destination.
I jumped out of the truck and the cool air hit me like a shit load of pin needles. I grabbed for my winter jacket and sucked it up. I couldn't stop looking at the sky. Clear as hell and pissing me off. I wanted snow god damn it!
Russ paused from putting up is tent. He saw me gazing off into the wild blue yonder. "What's wrong munchikin?"
I turned from the sky."Just looking for snow."
"Well, clear skies are forecasted all week.. Sorry."
"That's all right." I said as I continued to look for firewood. Heart turned to mush.
Camp was set. The fire was blazing and the sun was melting into the horizon. I did my rounds and picked out my toilet. Some two hundred feet from camp. I kept my eyes out for bears.
The night became rich and we retired to our tents. Usually my stepmother came with us but she was away on business. It was just my dad and I sharing one tent. Boy was that weird. We said our goodnights and then the snoring commenced.
I could never sleep. To excited about the next days events. I put my head phones on and listened to Thomas Newman's Horse Whisperer. It calmed me enough to just close my eyes. My dad's outrageous snoring did not help. My eyes were wide open Staring at the top of the tent. It was hard sharing a tent. Instead of pissing in a cup like I always do, I had to leave the tent. Run to my pee-pee spot, pull my pants off, freeze my ass off and show it to anything that would see it.
I noticed every time I camp in the cold, my feet are always freezing. I didn't help that my sleeping bags zipper was broke letting the ass cold air in. Come to think of it, the sleeping bag was older than I was. In fact, I think it was the one I was concieved in. I shrugged it off and shivered all night in the fetal position. My father snoring like a maniac next to me with extra flannel blankets. Would I ask him for one? Hell no, I didn't want him to think I was a pussy. Suck it up princess. Every now and then I would hear an explosion from my dads ass. I couldn't help but giggle.
The morning came and I was up at the crack of dawn. I got the fire started up, boiled some water for coffee and oatmeal. The sun was out and I was pissed. Fuck off I said to it under my breath.
There was a rustle in the tent fallowed by a procession of farts. I always knew my dad was up when I heard his gas. I was enjoying a warm bowl of oatmeal when he merged from the tent. He pulled a comb through his hair and was ready to go.
Russ soon followed and everybody was sitting around the campfire.
"Where are you thinking of heading?" Russ was asking my dad.
He didn't look up or make eye contact. "Probably head north and make a big circle. Motioning with his hands.
Russ looked at me Smiling. "Are you ready for a hike munchikin?"
I looked at him with a grin. "Yes sir. Ready to bag a big one."
I never really did. I loved animals very much and the thought of killing them made me crazy. This is what I had to do. I wanted my father's approval. I wanted to spend time with him. If that meant bagging and animal, so be it. I wanted to show him girls can do anything. I wanted him to have pride in me.
The time had come and we all geared up. My father pulled his 300 win mag around his shoulder. I fastened my fanny pack with the mountain money (toilet paper), corn nuts and filled up my water bottle.
"Do you have the compass?" He was loading up his gun.
This was a near fatal error. I skimmed my pack. "Yeah, I do."
I was un armed this trip, but my dad only had one tag. There is nothing more arousing then a 357 firmly strapped tightly around your shoulder. Riding quads and carrying guns. What could be more fun. Not this hunt. This hunt we would walk. We said our goodbyes to Russ and started heading north.
The sun was shining and we began our rounds. My dad was a quick walker and it was sometimes hard to follow. Every now and then we would stop to examine some deer crap. Every so often my dad would stop and we would be dead silent. It was almost as if we could hear everything. The song the wind played through the trees. The smallest bug buzzing around. Everything just seems to slip away and you melt back to the earth from where you came from. You close your eyes and you can just see everything. I got these feelings every time we stopped. I savored every moment. Clouds rolled in blanketing the sky. I was so involved in the hunt, I hadn't noticed.
We had come to a clearing and there he was. The biggest bull elk we had ever seen. Just standing there. He had seen us but didn't budge. Somehow he knew it was not elk season, so he was out there just to rub it in our noses. Slowly we walked ever so close to him. I could almost reach out and touch his majestic body. Eyes wide and fixed on his, I was in a trance. The trees began to rustle a little harder and then I noticed it.
A snowflake had found it's way to my sleeve. One tiny flake so intricate in design. One tiny system of beauty. There was another, then another. I looked straight up and saw complete and utter beauty. Never in my life did I understand the complete process of snow fall. As every flake fell, I saw that they were all different in design. Completely mind blown I did not hear my father's words. The second time around I heard.
"You got that compass.?"
It had not occurred to me that in that past few hours that we had been walking, my father was using the sun to navigate our way. With the sun swallowed by dark clouds he needed some help. I reached in. There was toilet paper and corn nuts, but no compass. I bit my toung and cursed at myself. I saw the disappointment in my father eyes as he realized I did not have it.
We were blind and walking who knows where. The snow began to fall heavily and I no longer noticed it. I focused on following my dad and keeping warm. The cold had crept up quickly. It seemed like forever. Snow was just getting deeper and we just continued to be lost.
Funny things you think about when you are lost. I found myself in a daze. All this beauty around me and I just did not notice.
We had come across a campsite with fellow hunters. There had to have been a few inches of snow on the ground by this time. The thick blanket of snowfall was hard to see through. I watched as my dad talked to one of the hunters. There was a dear carcass hanging off one of the trees. I gave me an eerie feeling. My dad returned, hand in pockets.
"Did you find out where we are?"
His eyes were focused on the sky. "Kinda, sorta. They had no map, but this road should lead us to ours."
No map? Who the fuck has no map I said to myself.
We continued down the road until the snow swallowed it up. We followed a fence near a snow covered lake. I was getting tired and lagging behind my dad. Unfortunately for me I had brought a pair of Converse high tops that had absolutely no traction what so ever and was stumbling all over the place. Though never looking back, my father felt my weakness and stopped for a rest.
I sat my wore out ass on a tree stump and dug for those corn nuts. I jammed them into my mouth and gave them no mercy.
My father held his hand out for some. "Better go easy on those. We might be eating them for supper."
Those very words would haunt me for the rest of my life. He was lost and had no idea where we were. I lost my appetite and stashed the bag back in my sack.
We rested a few minutes more and continued on our way. There were lightning strikes and thunder bashes. Something my father said he has never seen. I cant' remember how long we walked but it seemed a lifetime. I tried to keep up, but was fading quickly. We walked and walked. The snowfall was heavy. I had encountered my first blizzard. Death never occurred to me. My dad always got us out of sticky situations.
Light from the sky began to fade. Hopes of returning to camp were diminishing. Everything was covered in white. Inches and inches. We paused and heard a noise.
A black Jeep Cherokee was slowly making it's way through the heavy snowfall. It was our knight in shining armor. My dad bolted in front of it stopping the truck. He talked to the driver for a bit. We got a ride. We were saved.
I felt so bad climbing in with my feet cover in mud. I did not know the driver's name, but I thank you for saving our lives.
We drove forever. I stared out at the snow blasted landscape. Everything changed so much covered in snow. My dad was talking to the driver. I did not hear. I was phased. I kept thinking on what would happen if that guy was not there. Where would we be? What would we do? Why at that very moment was that guy there?
We finnaly reached camp. I hopped out and played in the snow for a bit as my dad gave the driver a thousand thanks. We had traveled 20 miles from camp. I noticed Russ's truck was gone.
We had finnaly settled and got the fire started when Russ pulled up in his bus yellow 76 GMC Serria. He climbed out and sat next to my dad.
"I thought you guys had bagged a big one so I got in my truck and looked for you." He cracked open a beer.
My dad kept his eyes on the fire. " No man, we got lost. I lost the sun." That was all he said.
My shoes drying by the fire, I was stuck in the tent. Laying in my sleeping bag, bored as hell. Maybe he was scared of losing me. Maybe he was afraid my mom would tear him a new one. Whatever it was he wanted me to rest. I protested of course and sat my ass next to the fire with them.
I woke later that night to find the tent directly above my head .It had collapsed under the heavy snowfall. I heard my dad outside as he wiped off the snow.
I was up at the crack of dawn the next morning playing in the snow. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun. My shoes and pants were wet, but I didn't care. I made snow angels and swam in the snow. My father would just reply with a "your crazy child."
We spent the rest of the day scouting in the Suburban. No snow chains, but it still handeled like a champ. I remember plowing through the masses and listening to Sheryl Crow's Does It Make You Happy? Yes it does, I thought to myself. Yes it does.
I never will forget that guy in the Cherokee. If I was not there to die, then I was there to learn an important lesson. Evidently I am here for a Reason. Don't you ever wonder why you are involved in other peoples lives? Maybe you are here to help them out. Just as Cherokee man helped us.
Every life has a purpose.