Monday, May 13, 2013

Kissing Fish and Hunting Accidents... {A man has to do, what a man has to do.}

‘Uncle’ Kurt - not blood relation, but rather akin via ‘manly’ camaraderie - was one of my father’s most captivating friends.  No womenfolk needed - or for that matter wanted - to keep this relationship alive 

Standing beside my 6’1” father, Uncle Kurt was rugged and short.  A man of strength... a chiseled face,  prominent white smile, and powder blue eyes.  His thick, dark hair contrasted my fathers' fine dirty blond, light complexion.   A stereotypical German accent made me wonder if he even knew what a ‘W’ was... or should I say ‘vus.’  Vhen he spoke, one needed to be sure to pay attention, lest you miss vhat he vus saying.  Though Dad had no trouble understanding... he was use to the ‘broken’ tongue, as my Grandmother spoke with the same thick accent... no ‘W’s for her either.    

A painter by trade, his white carpenter jeans were speckled with each new days array of color selection, as was the matching white painters cap adorning his head.  His shirt - white also - yes, with speckles - had dark blue bands lining the edges of the sleeves.  This I remember, as I can still see his muscular biceps bulging and straining the materials girth each time he moved his arms.  I am sure there was a tattoo, though I can’t remember what it was... {or if there wasn’t there should have been}  A gentle haze of dark hair, covered his forearms... all the way to his capable and well used hands.    

This was Dad’s kind of guy.  A real man’s man... 

Nature was a common denominator in this friendship.  Whether hunting, fishing or family trips to Pennsylvania, they actively coordinated their calendars to get their wildlife in. 

In line, I’ve two stories I’d like to share...  Each, duly burnt into my memory.

The first story is somewhat of a fish tale.... 

Uncle Kurt loved to fish, though he didn’t always eat his catch.  In fact, the majority of his backyard was set up to nurture and cherish any prized catch.  Two ponds - not one - on opposing ends of the lengthy yard were connected by an ever-flowing ‘river.’   It was a worthy tributary for his newly adopted ‘babies.’  Rocks and boulders not only created a ‘babbling brook,’ they also enhanced the waterfall area.  Grass, and a few rouge flowers, lined the waters edge... an arched wooden bridge gave the final touch, allowing easy access to the pumps and gadgetry that kept this river oasis ‘alive.’

Going from the great outdoors to a glorified fish tank, could prove concerning... Though more concerning should be the narrowly missed butter-and-lemon-fish-roast-in-your-own-honor... I dare say this was a ‘happy’ school of fish.  This was also a happy Uncle Kurt... unless {Heaven forbid} any of his brood should happened to fall ill - which would trigger a sanctioned stay in the special 150 gallon tank set up in his basement... equipped to treat any fishy ailments.  {He was serious about his ‘babies.’}  

(A Little Side Note - to give a bit more depth and insight to the seriousness factor... Neighborhood cats needed to bewareSeriously!! They risked being ‘offed’ and stuffed in an empty paint can should they get too close.  {I was never fond of this ‘policy’ - and hoped it was an exaggerate untruth!} Whenever we went for a visit, I made a point to chase every, and any, stray cat away... with such vigor that they tell all their kitty friends and never step paw on his property again!  The fish-food-eating squirrels were fair game as well... To this day, I cringe whenever I see paint cans in the garbage!)

One sunny day - a day following a very heavy rainstorm - the ‘river’ mysteriously stopped flowing.  Dad was walking up the driveway as frustrations were being aired. “Vat is go’in on vit my pumps!?! They stopped vork’in!”  Uncle Kurt raced along the ‘river,’ checking all the electrical wires.  Dad, mechanic that he was, called out the obvious, “Did you check the motor?”  Preoccupied with trouble shooting power lines, Uncle Kurt had not yet crossed the bridge to the pumps.  Bending down, he lifted two ends of heavy cable, “Ah, here is da problem...” and with that pushed the disconnected ends back together. 

The moment of relief fleeted the second those cables were connected.  A current not suitable for water, anywhere, anytime - aka electrical current! - traveled into the ‘river’ with daunting speed, simultaneously skyrocketing every prized ‘baby’ about three feet into the air.  Uncle Kurt cried out in horror... as Dad stood dumbfounded at the waters edge.  Many fish could not withstand the jolt and met their demise right there on the grassy knoll, but some were still valiantly trying... desperately gasping in their new, and all too breezy, atmosphere.  Uncle Kurt scrambled, grabbing every ejected fish he could, throwing them back into the water... until he came across his ‘crowned’ favorite, “AHHH!?!  My fish!”  Snatching it up, a quick inspection only confirmed that things didn’t look promising... the fish was not moving.  Uncle Kurt did the only logical thing he could think of... . . .   mouth to mouth.  

Dad was now crying... with laughter, “WHAT are you doing?!?”   Too preoccupied to explain, Uncle Kurt focused on his task... {A man has to do, what a man has to do.}  Covering the fish’s mouth again, he puffed a breath of air as the gills flapped, “My fish... my favorite fish!”  {I suppose this could have been the time to point out that fish need water to actually breath... and that petting a fish might not be soothing to the fish...}  Nevertheless, Uncle Kurt petted, and breathed, and frantically - yet ever so gently - compressed, as though CPR could be successfully performed on a fish... his fish.  Dad had no words, after all... what does one man say to another in moments such as this?  

Lo and behold, the fish arched bringing this grown, manly man to his knees... which is where he stayed for the next few minutes as he held his struggling-to-survive 'baby' upright in the water.  I don’t know who it took longer to regain composure... the fish - who should have been renamed ‘Bob,’ because that is all he did from that day forward... or my father - who, from that day on, was never able to look at Uncle Kurt, his ‘river,’ or ‘Bob’ the same way...

This next story, could be deemed a hunting accident... 

I realize hunting is not for everyone.  For those unfamiliar with the ‘sport,’ allow me to outline a few behind-the-scene details.  Long before the fated moment, areas of potential need to be identified.  My father would walk the woods numerous times, in search of his perfect spot.  Deer trails were monitored for traffic levels, tuffs of fur on nearby thicket were scoped out, pellet like droppings were inspected, recent bedding areas were noted... careful detective work was collaborated while making sure to not leave your own footprint.  Watch where you tread, watch what you touch, no spitting, no peeing {yes, you know how the male species love to mark their territory...}  No human deterrents were to be left behind, ‘warning’ the forest of your pending presence.  Hunting is indeed a sneaky art. 

The actual day of the hunt involves preparation as well.  Obviously, the principle concept is to blend in... to not be noticed... to outfox the prey.  Hence, great efforts go into camouflaged gear... camouflaged face painting... camouflaged body odor - aka no nice smelling soaps, {AKA no showers} actually a dab here and there of deer lure urine! {Let’s call it what it is... and doe urine too boot, since we want to lure a strapping buck!}  Yes, hunters are that serious about covering up their human scent.  I, for one, am not serious enough {about any hobby} to warrant donning another creatures urine... that would just be... well... unnatural!  Even for my un-girly Self.  

On the morning of the hunt, one must be up and out, and positioned in the woods well before the forest wakes.  There is no chance of trespassing in natures territory, and going undetected, if you are one of those late risers.  The only chance a hunter has, is to get there in the lull of the night and hope the forest inhabitants are tired enough to ignore your presence... or sit still long enough to bore them into forgetting about you.  Then you just settle in... and wait... wait for your prey to unassumingly walk into your path.  
Most excursions turn out relatively uneventful, unless you are the deer.  More often than not they know humans are there, and take painstaking steps to avoid accordingly.  I’ve come to realize, that hunting was, and is, just man’s excuse to have a quiet morning deep in the heart of nature.  Most ‘hunts’ turn out to be a surreal stay in a wonderland of trees, one that eases the drawl of city life.  It is a very thought out, serious task.  And really?  What wife, is going to argue with a husband, who has taken to face painting, smells of strange pee, with gun in hand, and is prepared to kill?  Uh, yea... the proper response is, “Yes, dear... go... far into the woods...”  

Now that you understand all that goes into a ‘hunt,’ let me share the hunting accident story... 

Dad and Uncle Kurt had spent the morning sitting in their well-chosen-designated spots.  Sadly for them, on this day the deer had out smarted the humans.  The secret call was sounded, a cloak-and-dagger coo which cut through the woods, signaling the other that it was time to head home.  Tomorrow is another day... They could re-visit this spot again, if the human factor was kept to a minimum.  Ever so quietly, they walked back to the car.

It was at this very moment Uncle Kurt got that other kind of call from Nature... one that could not be ignored.  Back into the woods he went as Dad waited nearby... that is, until he heard all hell break out in the forest.  A loud scream, followed by cursing and all sorts of commotion... {I apologize in advance for the graphicness of what I am about to relay, but there is no way around it...}  Apparently, Uncle Kurt had squatted to do his business.  He had no choice but to partially disrobe in the midst of the forest, his fancy camouflage coveralls unzipped and piled at his feet.  An appropriate hole dug, intended to bury - and snuff out - any human evidence.  {A man has to do, what a man has to do.} 

His ‘business’ finished, cold from being so exposed, he quickly pulled up his fancy coveralls, jerking the hood up and over his head.  

{I suppose this could have been the time to point out that hood placement is crucial in situations such as this...  and that a catch-all might not be soothing to the human...}

Uncle Kurt successfully placed his human droppings ‘lure’ precisely on top of his own head. 

So much for salvaging this perfect, well-chosen-designated spot... Today the deer were fully warned... and laughing!  Actually, I can envision every animal of the forest watching, questioning humanity and their obsession with pee and poop!  

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