I remember the winter season around Christmas the year when I was 9 or 10 with special fondness. That was the year that I got my first shotgun for Christmas and my brother got a rifle. It snowed afresh a few days after Christmas. We were living in a small Nebraska town at the time, across the street from Grandpa and Grandma J. The fresh coating of snow and subzero temperature made for perfect rabbit hunting weather. The snow meant that the rabbit tracks would be visible and easy to follow in the overcast dimness of the day.
Grandpa, dad, my brother and I went down to the creek bottom and began hiking along the creek looking for fresh tracks. Looking back on it today, I realize that grandpa and dad didn't even bring their guns, a pretty sure hint that they were doing this for us boys rather than for table meat. Over the years I have become pretty certain that the whole hunting trip was more to instruct and check out how responsible my brother and I were with our new guns than to bring home anything edible. At the time, no such thought even entered my head. My senses were full with the crispness of the day, the joy of traipsing along the creek bank, eagerly looking for signs of game, the seemingly endless variations in shades of gray and brown in the dim overcast light, and the time spent with grandpa and dad.
Although we saw several rabbits, they remained safe from both my brother and I. Our aim was pretty poor, even considering how excited we were and the fact we were using brand new guns. My brother and I tried out each others guns with no better result. It didn't matter to us. We were hunting with grandpa and dad. The world was a good place.
After several hours of walking along the creek, it was time to head back home. We were happy and tired. And I think we all got something out of the hike and talking. Sadly, it was one of the only times I would ever go hunting with my grandfather. The next year we moved back here to the town where I now live and about 100 miles from grandpa J. By the time I was old enough to drive, he and grandma had begun to suffer ill health. They were eventually moved to a house down the alley from where we lived so that there was someone to take care of them.
(Writing this brought to mind how different my two grandfathers were and yet how they shared certain things when it came to the grandkids. I'll have to use that as a topic in the future.)
Editted to add: The next post, Grandfathers, does just that.