Sometimes being the only girl in a house full of kids is hard. Ma says I will never be a girl, but a tom boy all my life. I am twelve and I am thinking she is right. There is one thing I do not like and that is hunting. Hunting is fine because we use the meat and Lord knows, with six people in this little house and food costing so much, we can use all the meat that is hunted. Just don’t ask me to even think about it. Dad has been hinting that a good time to get used to handling a gun is around twelve and I think he has glanced at me a couple times. Well, let me tell you, I do not want any part of a gun.
But Dad is insisting that maybe, just maybe, I could become a good hunter. Well, you just don’t talk back to your parents, so you just keep quiet and hope he forgets about it. This Saturday morning, he has taken the .22 off the gun rack and wants me to come outside in the chilly October air. He tells me he wants to show me how to hold the gun. I can do that. He puts the gun in my arms and shows me the correct way to point it and when not in use, the barrel to the ground. I am willing to do that. Then he puts a bullet in it and tells me to aim and pull the trigger. No, Dad, I just do not want to do that. Just once, he says, aim at that birch tree. Oh, Lord, help me. I don’t even like the sound of a gun, but I will try. I put the rifle to my shoulder, squint one eye, look through what he just pointed out is a sight and squeeze the trigger. Well, he lets out a whoop you would not believe. I have hit the tree. Well, who couldn’t hit something that big a few feet away I thought. I hand him back the rifle and tell him that maybe another day I will try again. I don’t think so, but maybe I can help in some other of his hobbies and believe me, Dad has a few.
He loves to line honey bees. It is quite an art, actually. He sets up some pans and I don’t know exactly what he does, but the bees come and get his offerings and off they fly and he times them and watches what direction they fly. Now my Dad should have been a frontiersman because he loves everything outdoors. He puts his hands right in the middle of the bees. This morning I just stood a foot away and he motioned me to come over and took my hand and put it right square in the middle of the bees. See, he says, they won’t hurt you if you don’t crush them. Well, crushing is the last thing on this mind I can tell you. I know after the first frost, Dad will have everything timed right out and know exactly where the bee honey is and we will go and dip some. Well, I will go if Ma says I can. Time will tell. He is thinking it is up on the Ames Road.
The Ames Road is just another one of those back roads around Greenwood that are so much fun to ride on. The car kicks up the dirt and if Dad drives slow enough, we can see different birds on tree branches even. One road I like is the Martin Road and once in a blue moon, we ride up to Irving Martin’s farm. It is usually a door yard call but it is so much fun to see the old gnarled apple trees down in the side yard. We drive by an old cemetery and I wonder about the people in there.
Sometimes Dad takes us as far as the road goes up toward Sheepskin Bog when we leave Mr. Martin’s farm, but usually he turns around if the rocks are too big in the road. He says it isn’t worth losing an oil pan over.
But back to the bees. The nights are getting colder and every morning the grass is crisp with white and I know that the honey is ready. Dad is ready. I love to get the honeycomb. Ma agrees I can go this year but adds if I get stung, it is my own fault for wanting to follow my father around. He brings a friend and off we start for the Ames Road. Armed with flashlights, we leave the car and walk a short distance and sure enough! Dad shines a light up the tree and there is a big old bunch of honeycomb and honey just dripping almost. I am getting chilly as I really don’t have a good warm winter coat but the excitement is keeping me warm enough. Dad makes me stay in the car so I have no idea what is happening. He and his friend have two pails and they dip honey and some comb and leave a lot at the site. Dad puts the pails on the floor in the back seat and tells me it was worth the time he put into lining them and it would sure taste good. We drive home and into the driveway and as I start to get out, there is something crawling under my sock. Oh, no! A sharp sting and I know I did not get away free. Ma will have a fit probably .
Dad and his friend tell Ma about the honey and show her. She is excited as she likes it in tea and uses it in cooking too. She looks at me and asks if I am ok and I have to tell her I have one sting. I have to sit down. She sighs, goes to the cupboard and takes down the box of baking soda. Pretty soon, she swirls a bit of water into it and makes a paste and swabs it on the sting. I am glad Ma knows so much about medicine and pain killers for sure this time!!
I don’t like bullets and guns, but I sure do like night time adventures with Dad and well, those back roads..I sure wish there were more of them!