Friday, November 5, 2010

Duck And Cover

All the islands up and down the river belong to the Native Americans, and hunting season began in October for the Penobscot Indians. Birch Island is directly across from the cabin. As I sat in my red canvas chair writing my head snapped up, and I instinctively went into a semi-crouch when a series of three rifle shots cracked loudly in rapid succession. So undiminished was the sound, I expected to see the shooter when I began scanning the island not 300 yards from where I sat. It also occurred to me that I could actually be hit by a stray round, so I got up and went into the cabin!

I am back in my red canvas chair now, but I am wearing a blaze orange hunting vest, and glassing Birch Island with my binoculars! My heart is still thumping at about the same speed as the woodpecker's rat-a-tat-tat as it drills into the ribs of a dead oak tree to my right. But now that my upper body glows like a Jack-O-Lantern I have decided to venture down to the rivers edge to write. Seated on a large gray rock, with one leg tucked under me, and the thigh of my other leg as a writing surface, I am ready to once again enjoy the serenity of this very special place.

Surprise! Surprise! Coming down the river is an aluminum boat piloted by a man in a red jacket. The bow of his 14 foot vessel is bobbing and making a slapping sound. "Beautiful day, huh?" He says. "It sure is!" I respond.

Finally it is quiet again, so I moved to another rock more ergonomically designed for the particular shape of my posterior. In between the two writing locations I walked along the shore with a long thin stick that a beaver had stripped of all its bark. I used the stick to flick away debris and turn over the gravely riverbed, so as to give attention to unusual stones. My eyes were drawn to some unique ones that were pure white, translucent and luminescent. Remarkably, they resisted being stained by the tea colored environment where they lay submerged most, or all of their existence. I slid them into the front pocket of my wranglers. I picked up another kind of stone. This one - smooth, flat, and round - perfectly fit my hand for skipping. I stretched my arm a bit to get it loose, leaned my body, so that my arm was on the same plane as the river surface, and I slung it!

Splash. Plunk. Not so good . . . I think the stone was defective.

Later on the same day I told my brother-in-law about the gunshots. He told me it was probably duck hunters firing from the cover of the island . . .

O . . . a shotgun is not considered a rifle.

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