Indigo Insights

Sunday, August 18, 2002

It must have been the disappointment of my Daddy’s life that the new baby (me) was a girl. But he made the best of it and made me his pal anyhow. Most of the practical things that a son learns from his father I learned, along with the practical things a daughter needs to learn from her mother. Probably Daddy’s most meaningful and long-lasting endeavor, however, was teaching me about nature, animals, the woods and what grows there. He made it very clear to a pre-schooler what was safe and what was hazardous – and made it quality time. We must have “walked the woods” together from about the time I could walk because I can’t remember when we didn’t.

My grandmother – lovingly called Mammy by all her grandchildren – dipped snuff. (Is anyone old enough to remember that? LOL) It would have been scandalous for her to smoke cigarettes! There was a certain tree that grew in the woods from which she made her “dipping brushes” Daddy was her hunting son-in-law, so he had the job of searching for that tree when the brush supply got down low. I would go along as his “scout”, helping him to look for the special tree. It had to be a young sapling in order for the brush to turn out right.

As we walked deeper and deeper into the woods, I would collect wild violets. We always carried a bouquet back home to Mother – butter her up so we could go again soon! Along the way, Daddy would point out the different barks of trees, various footprints of critters, introduced me to my first “chewing gum” (pine rosin dripping from a tree), and also the fake “tobacco” (he called it “rabbit tobacco”) that he would let me smoke later when I got into my teens. You must remember smoking was not only acceptable then, it was almost mandatory!

Sometimes, but not always, he would take his shotgun along. We never saw any game. He would shoot it at a specified target a couple of times just to get me used to the loud noise. Even though I was a pre-schooler when these sojourns began, I was never frightened and the walking in the woods became a favorite thing for us to do.

I will never forget the first time he let me shoot the gun. I was five years old, but it’s as vivid in my memory as if it were a few weeks ago. He played a little game with me with the stumps when we were in the woods. He would put me on a stump and I would stand on it and recite “Here I stand upon a stump. Come and kiss me before I jump.” Then Daddy would come up to kiss me and hold out his arms so I could jump into them after the kiss. On the unforgettable day of my first shooting of the shotgun, after the kiss Daddy said “Stay right there on that stump and I’ll let you pull the trigger.” I did. He did. And the rest is the history of why I didn’t need the NRA.

No offense to NRA or its members. I did become a member later in life – but it was not as fun as Daddy.