ONE AFTERNOON the two of us found ourselves walking down an orange dirt path behind the house. The dirt was hard, baked under the gilded heat of the mid-day sun, and it crumbled under our feet like carrot cake falling off the edge of a fork.
As we stepped into the woods, we entered a place and time I had never been. A large American beech tree towered over us. Age spots of lichen painted its trunk. A few feet from our stillness, my grandfather eyed a fallen tree limb and picked it up breaking off the unneeded length with his shin.
“This is a good one,” he said as he placed his black rimmed glasses across the bridge of his nose for further inspection. “This is a good one.”
“I used to fashion my own slingshots out of beech sometimes, mostly oak though,” he continued. “I’d hunt rabbits with it for dinner. Used to skin ‘em myself and put ‘em in the pot for boiling. You ever have rabbit stew?” he laughed. “I bet not.”
“Let’s take this back to the house and whittle it down for you.”
We tell ourselves lies: I’ll remember. I don’t need to write it down. How could I ever forget that? Then, we forget.
“Do you have a knife of your own?,” he said presenting me with a slender white Winchester Stockman from his pants pocket. “Here, take this one. Your daddy won’t mind. Your mama might, so don’t let her see it.”
Sometimes we remember again.
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Photo: Jeffrey Pillow. “Papa’s Winchester Stockman Jigged Bone Knife.”