Footsteps of our Forefathers

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Bill began his writing career by penning articles and stories for various magazines and interests, but eventually devoted his efforts exclusively to buckskinning and muzzle loading. 

He spent nine years as the managing editor of the American Mountain Menís magazine, The Tomahawk and Long Rifle. His list of published novels maybe seen at: furtradebooks.com.

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A little food for thought from Colorado!!!!

    It is winter in Colorado. I suppose it is winter elsewhere, but since I am in Colorado it is only here that I am concerned with today. When my knees were fluid and agile I welcomed winter as I would a fun and friendly relative returning from a prolonged absence. I looked forward
eagerly to the time I could strap boards on my feet and sail down cliffside-like hills at great speeds. Oh, we had loads of fun, winter and I. We skiied and snowshoed, and hunted and fished through holes in the ice of remote ponds. We trapped and built fires over which we brewed strong tea out of melted snow water. But since my knees and hips have let me down and the medical experts claim that only replacement surgery can fix them, winter is not so welcome. Its warts and bad breath have become more apparent than its happiness and friendliness. Sometimes I wonder where my old buddy winter has gone and why in its place is an unwelcome pest that has to be endured, not enjoyed.

    Take this morning. It began as a miserable, gray, cold and uninviting day. I grumped along in it as I bundled up to go outside to put out birdfood and fill the heated bird waterer. It was cold in the early dawn and I rushed to get back inside where the furnace kept the house at a more life sustaining temperature. I shed my layers of clothing and got a cup of strong coffee and watched through the front windows as things began to stir out there in the morning fog.

    First appeared the deer: a troop of cautious does with their "I don't care what you think" attitudes and behind them the fuzzy-haired languid- eyed babies with their hesitant little ways. A moment later, walking with great care and mincing small steps, came the male adults. The first was a three point buck who somehow managed to almost always hide his antlers behind concealing bushes. Others, just as cautious,
emerged from the surrounding woods. Each scarffed up the seeds and corn I had spread (I like to tell folks it's for the birds but, really, I take no pleasure in refusing it to any wildlife).

    Almost at the same time as the deer came, the bluejays swarmed in. Clouds of them, shouting and yelling and screaming and flashing their azure colors with great whirring of their wings. They were ready to eat and wanted their food right now. In their haste they scattered birdseed from their feeders. The deer were ready and as the grains fell to the ground they fed avidly.

    Then came the little guys: juncos, chickadees, finches inummerable. 


 

 

Hopping and feeding and joining right in. For a time. Until suddenly the jays whirred squawking away like a dry windstorm. The small birds hid in the surrounding trees and festooned the interior limbs of the blue spruce like so many Christmas ornaments. The reason? Stalking and
nodding, led by a wise old hen, trailed by the jakes and toms, came the big ones. The turkeys. They strut funerally along, lifting and shoving their great scaly-toed feet out in what looks like a slow, head-nodding, procession, but in reality is a ground-eating stride that gets them from here to there in a remarkably short time. There is a new tom with them today in addition to the big old guy who is their
usual herd boss. He is about the same size as the old guy, probably larger than any frozen bird left down at the store. There's a difference, though. His bronze and green back and dangling beard make him a hell of a lot more fun to look at. The two toms eat side by side, out on the porch, pecking up the food the previous birds scattered about. They gradually migrate to the large bin of cracked corn near to the snow covered wooden steps that lead down to the yard. Their beady eyes miss nothing; they are always on the alert for
danger. Between the two large toms there appears to be no animosity, even though a nubile (in turkey terms) young hen slinks over and preens herself and tries to slide in between the feeding males. The old one rises up tall and spreads his wings wide and his head darts as fast as a striking adder. The chastized hen slides quickly away. The two good old boys go back to their companionable eating.

    And at last the sun burns away some of the morning haze. A patch of hard blue appears overhead. The junipers, burdened with caps of snow, begin to show their greenery. The sudden light provides for contrasting shadows. Tracks of animals show plainly in the snow all over the yard and on the hillside behind the buildings. Even though it is cold enough to freeze tears on warm cheeks the world has suddenly become a friendlier place - inviting and interesting. All at once my knees feel fit for a small excursion - forget that the cold and strain may make them ache for the rest of the day: what's a little excruiciating pain to a frontiersman bent on youthful pursuits? I accept the invitation and donn wool socks and winter moccasins, knit
hat and pillow-ticking lined blanket-coat. With bow in hand and quiver of arrows on my back I will trudge around the property to see that all is well with the world. I might lose a few arrows under the snow because I will surely miss some of the stumps I will choose as targets. But that's all right - they'll be there to pick up in the spring when the snow is gone - faded but still servicable - like me.

    As I open the door and the chill hits me in the face, I realize that maybe I don't dislike winter all that much after all. I ponder a moment and reflect that when the archer of life has loosed me for the final time, when my last winter is over, I sure hope I get found and picked up. And I hope mightily that though I might be faded, I will be deemed to be serviceable.

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stories & adventures pertaining to those than went before us.

Page 6

 

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