Archive for the ‘Short stories’ Category

Santa Claus parade

As I walk up Mill Street the glorious sounds of choral music drift down the hill, building in volume as I approach Main Street. It’s the night of the Bloomfield Santa Claus parade. I’ve decided to once again attend this popular event. It’s a wonderful way to kick start ones mindset into a Christmas spirit. I greet passersby with a “Merry Christmas” and all respond in kind. As I crest the hill, I see crowds gathering, everybody is in a cheerful mood. How can one not be,with Christmas carols and hymns resonating up and down the street. The church has set up speakers on their lawn, providing a perfect soundtrack as we all anticipate the arrival of floats and bands. No glum faces in this crowd. Everybody is catching the Christmas spirit. The weather is cooperating, suitably cold but not unbearable. I’m bundled up with enough layers. My plan is to watch some of it from the Public House patio at least until the cold drives me indoors. Bloomfield Public House has opened their patio for the evening, providing hearty soups and nibbles as well as frosty cans of craft beer. I opt for the beer and park myself at the corner of the patio, an ideal vantage point to enjoy the event. Kids walk by clutching their letters for Santa. Many are festooned in sparkling hats and blinking lights, joining the theme of the parade. Anticipation builds as the horse drawn taxi wagon ferries people back and forth. It’s a shoulder to shoulder crowd. The population of Bloomfield must have swelled to double for this night. And then the first float goes by, led by a biker on her Harley. She’s even adorned it with some lights. One after another the floats glide by. My favorite is Grinch and Whoville with its wacky residents. Grinch is poking his head out of the roof, he’s so high above the crowd I pray there are no wires crossing the road or he’d be zapped for sure. The cold starts to wear its way thru my layers of clothing. Time to retire to the interior comfort of the Public House. Their marvelous glass front provides an ideal window to view the parade. And in warmth. A steady stream of moms and dads with their toddlers come inside to warmup. All are welcome. And as the final parade float glitters by I reflect on this display of community. The County really is a special place.


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Here’s a hilarious unsolicited internet contact (translation scam) promising to make me a multi millionaire.  Do people actually fall for this drivel?  Read on and have a good laugh!


Thanks for the mail concerning your offer. It seems you are a sincere person.  I would have called you on phone but I’m afraid calls might be monitored here.

I am Lt-Gen Edward Gruszka, of Polish brigade-level Task Force (White Eagle) and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base in Kabul,Afghanistan, of the NATO Marine Force on  Monitoring and Peace keeping mission in Afghanistan against Taliban. with a very desperate need for assistance. I have summed up courage to contact you.I am seeking your kind assistance to move the sum of $11,900,000,00(Eleven million Nine Hundred Thousand US dollars) to you as far as I can be assured that my money will be safe in your care until I complete my service here come next month. This is no stolen money, and there is no danger involved.

Some money in various currencies was discovered in barrels at a farmhouse near Kabul during a rescue operation, and it was agreed by parties involved that this money be shared among us. This was quite an illegal thing to do, but I tell you what? No compensation can make up for the risk we have taken with our lives in this hellhole, and I have been shot,wounded and survived two suicide bomb attacks by the special grace of God. This and other reasons has prompted me to reach out for help. The above figure I took as my share, and to conceal this kind of money became a problem for me, so with the help of a British contact working here and his office enjoy some immunity, I was able to get the package out to a safe location entirely out of trouble spot. He does not know the real contents of the package, and believes that it belongs to a British medical doctor who died in a raid here in Afghanistan, and before giving up, trusted me to hand over the package to his family.

I want to promise you 30% of this money for the assistance you will give to me but one passionate appeal I will make to you is not to discuss this matter with anybody. Should you have reasons to reject this offer, please and please destroy this message as any leakage of this information will be too bad for us soldier’s here in Afghanistan. In less than 4 days the box should be in your possession and as I said earlier, I will give you 30% of the total amount and 70% for me. I hope I have been fair to this deal. Get back to me with your full information bellow and I will proceed with the registration of the fund to be sent to you.

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Though I believe that if people eat meat, they should be morally obligated to kill that which they eat at least once in their lifetime, I have not hunted seriously since 1995. That year, I hunted in the south of New Brunswick above the granite rocks of the Fundy coast and I hunted until later in November. It was cold weather that autumn, with snow mixed with rain along the coast during the day, and deer would make their way along the trails and down to the rocky beach for salt, and I hunted among those intersecting deer trails. Here in spruce and birch cover, the brooks flowed to the bay, and old logging roads, forgotten for half a century or more, allowed for deer to travel unseen and unmolested to the shore at ebb tide and back up to the hills in the evening time, to lie in the long grass unseen in a wood thicket.

There was an apple orchard too where I hunted, and on the first day I made it to the orchard at dawn and then moved along a deer trail that ran diagonally from that old logging road to the quiet brook that swept under windfalls, and there I stayed for most of the morning. I had the ability then to find a place where deer moved during the rut, where the buck would paw the ground and mark its territory, and where it would circle around to see if a doe had entered the area. I hunted alone from the time I was 23 years of age, and I would sit as quietly as possible for hours on end.

There were many deer in the south of the province that year, though they were generally not as large as those in the north of the province, and I was sitting in a forgotten part of the world too, near three or four moss-ravaged tombstones, the resting place of a mother and her five children who had died in 1851. The village they once belonged to had nothing to mark it except those forlorn graves.

Now and again, along those old trails, I would catch sight of a coyote slinking on its belly, or watch an osprey in the low, darkening clouds. And it was cold that first day too, and threatened snow. So I knew snow would come either that day or the next, and the cold would make the deer move.

I had with me a knapsack, with a Thermos of tea, a lunch, a small skinning knife and some chewing tobacco. And I had a chew of tobacco and a cup of tea about 10 that morning, and listened to the soundlessness of the woods and the shrill lowly caw of a crow as it flew from nowhere into nowhere, and I thought of that woman and her children, and how they left Ireland long, long ago, with such hope, and how their very resting place was part of a community that no longer even existed, known only to a coy dog or hunter or a lonely passerby.

I used a British .303 rifle with a Tasco scope set at the lowest range, for I was in close quarters, and I was using 180-grain bullets – that is, bullets with medium hitting power for deer. But I have used this bullet for moose as well, to good effect. I had a clip with five bullets, with one in the chamber, six bullets in all, and I never had any more bullets on me, and never felt I needed more. For a long time, when I was younger – that is younger than I was in 1995 – I never used a scope either. But over time I had long shots at both moose and deer and felt a scope necessary.

After a while, as the day stilled and it got later, I took a walk out across the logging road to the apple orchard and stayed there. Then as the daylight reflecting in my scope dimmed almost to nothing, I took my clip out of the rifle and headed back to my truck in the dark.

The next morning, I got to the apple orchard at dawn, and took a walk down the logging road to the beach. On the road, about 500 metres from the deer trail where I had been sitting the previous day, a large buck had pawed the gravel over, and a little farther down there were the crisscrossed claw marks of a bear paw, from a male bear that had not yet gone to den and had meandered up the road the night before and into the orchard. Knowing this, a person should be careful when coming into or leaving an orchard, for though a spring bear is particularly cranky, an autumn bear can be as well, and not too many people I know want to shoot one. I know I don’t. But bears range far and wide here, and do number in the thousands. So rural people in closer proximity worry about them, especially if they have small children.

The deer population is healthy here too, and that day it was turning bitter and I knew that soon it would snow. I made my way back into the spruce and birch cover, along the deer trail that ran above a fertile stream down to the hidden brook, and waited. There was ice forming along the trail and in the stream itself, and the wind had picked up, as it often did after midmorning, and by 1 in the afternoon the snow began to fall. Oh, at first lightly enough, but soon it began to fall so hard it was difficult to see. So I continually checked my scope cover for two reasons: one, to see if it was actually protecting the scope itself, to keep the lens from fogging, and two, to see if it would flip off easily if I did  get a chance to take a shot at a deer.

Here, I had time to think, and listen to the rumbling of the tractor-trailers off to the north, carrying tons of wood away to be processed, either for wrapping paper, newsprint or toilet paper, the great roads they were on hidden in our wilderness and running throughout the province. And I realized that the great devastation done to our land is almost never done for the benefit of rural people, but done to fulfill an urban need. It is a subtle understanding that comes when one witnesses the hundreds and thousands of acres thrashed up and torn away, so we can read books and newspapers telling us to be conscientious about the environment. That is, we can pay much lip service to much we do not understand.

As the snow fell, it began to cover up those old tombstones for the 144th time, and by 2 in the afternoon, my feet and my hands were freezing and my tea was cold. But here is what I believe – and I am asking no one else to agree – that hunting has as much to do with determination and resolve as anything else. And one should not be allowed to be comfortable while they kill. That is, I was resolved then to hunt, and now I am not.

I have known men who do not hunt whom I respect a good deal, and I know a man who hunted once and did not again, and another who had the rifle aimed, but could not fire at the little partridge he had in his sights. I knew people who lived on a farm down the road from us. Each fall, when they killed a pig, the boy would go for a walk and not return until after dark, while the girls would go to their bedroom and lie on the bed with pillows over their ears. And who can blame them?  For it might be a lesson to us who eat meat, that the killing of a pig is at times more gruesome and cruel than the killing of a white-tail deer or a moose. It is something we should know or at least have some understanding about.

And the amount of meat you get is about the same.

I watched as the day grew dark and then stilled. Then, everything stopped, as if the heart rate of the world lowered. Most people who spend time in the woods understand this and realize this is when the deer begin to move along their rut marks. From an hour before dark until it is too late to see is perhaps the best time for hunting. Still, the snowfall was great and had covered up the blond deadened grasses, and wisped off the branches of the gnarled spruce in front of me. I was thinking that the male bear whose tracks I saw had by now gone to den, and realized that it was about 4:20, and that I had a long walk back in the snow, along a faded logging road. And then a long drive home that evening.

I was kneeling on one knee thinking of picking up my knapsack, when I heard a slight noise. I couldn’t see anything, but I did know there was a deer there. I took the safety off my rifle, took a deep breath, waiting 10 seconds. I heard another twig move. Then a loud snap.

I released my scope cover, but when I did, the elastic string vibrated.  There was utter silence for a long moment.

I knew the deer had stopped, and was listening. So I knew, too, I had no time to wait. I stood and fired. The deer turned too late, a patch of snow jolting off its back. I ejected the shell, put another in the chamber and fired again. The buck stumbled, tried valiantly to stand, fell sideways, sitting up in the snow when it died. It was an eight-point buck, probably the one that had pawed the gravel the day before. One of its tines had been broken in a rut fight. It died in the only world it had ever known or understood.

It was the last year I ever hunted. I moved to Toronto, where I lived for 13 years.

There, at times, in posh restaurants, elk or caribou or venison would be on the menu for $29.95. On occasion, I would see a coyote skirting the traffic, I would read newspapers printed on paper harvested from home. And at times I would think of the young buck with the broken tine and realize I would probably never hunt again.

Once an urban boy asked, “What is it like to kill things?”

Well son, something a lot like that.

David Adams Richards’s latest book, Facing the Hunter, will be in bookstores next week.

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I had the great privilege a couple weeks ago in Costa Rica, of being witness to one of nature’s magical spectacles.  Sitting in a lawn chair on my beach at ecoburica, my eco-adventure camp in southern Costa Rica, scribbling in my journal, quaffing a cold beer, when one of the staff shouted to me to look out to sea.  I thought my friend Francisco was in trouble on the reef, he had been surf casting for those ever elusive fish, so I jumped up and scanned the ocean but could not see him.  Braullio shouted “no, no” and pointed further offshore.  I swivelled my head and my jaw dropped as the sight that greeted me momentarily stunned me into silence.  A giant humpback whale launched itself out of the ocean, almost completely separating itself from the water, just the tip of its tail still submerged.  And then this behemoth crashed back down, sending huge flumes of saltwater spray into the air.  This was immediately followed by two smaller whales jumping into the air, both dropping horizontally onto the surface and sending their own cannonball waves into the air.  It looked like they were the calves trying to replicate their mother’s feat of strength and beauty.  This show lasted for about five minutes, first the mother blasting into the atmosphere, then the calves.  It was as if the mother was showing off and/or teaching her young ones about the joys of jumping!  All of us stood on the beach, whooping and shouting with our own joy as we beheld this awesome sight.  Nature never ceases to amaze me with its displays of grandeur.

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“All you need is love, all you need is love, love is all you need.”

How simple and profound.  Lennon captured essences and that is an art.  To not get so self important that  your message gets lost in grandiosity.  Pompous presentation. 

How many of you stick your noses into your wine glasses and really suck in the aroma?  Don’t be shy, do it.  That release of olfactory joy! 

Anyhoo, OMG, I just glanced at the calendar and realized we’re barely over 2 weeks to Christmas.  Well the tree is up,  and decorations are getting there.  It will be a difficult year, without the matriarch around, but memories will serve to light our Christmas candles.  So that’s about it for the random rambling tonight.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good night!

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New?  Hit Dec 2010 archives and start from beginning.  It’s more fun that way.

Now that was a pretty damn good sauce if I do say so myself!  Just the right amount of heat.  And I love the beans.  Have not made a spaghetti sauce before with beans in it, can you believe that?  Sure, lots of chili, but a dedicated spghetti sauce?  No!  And this will be a new beginning.  I’m gonna use beans a lot more. 

Missed a voicemail from Stef moments ago.  I must have been upstairs coooking.  So nice of you buddy to call, gracias. 

Magic Carpet Ride is your background now.  “Let me take you down, cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields, Nothing is Real, and nothing to get hung about.  Strawberry Fields forever.  Living is easy with eyes closed.  Misunderstanding is all you see…..”

I wonder how Raimo is doing?  What a fascinating adventure.  Cycling around the world.  Averaging 100km per day.  Averaging.  Geez, I’ve done 100k only twice, and both times were exhilarating but so painful at the end!  I can only imagine (there’s that word again) doing it day in day out for 365 days.  Kudos “sportlane”, you are worthy!

Mom’s been gone almost six weeks now.  How quickly memory fades without reminders.  I kept the flower arrangement my family sent.  It actually dried very well.  I fear that without the photos and the tangible tactile reminders, her memory will fade too quickly.  Don’t want that to happen.  Mom was almost invincible.  Her impact will be felt and appreciated for many years to come.  The guiding force in hundreds of lives.  She taught more than language, more than song, more than dance.  Mom showed us her culture and drew us into it without us realizing what was happening.  She embodied Estonian culture.  And I’m so thankful I got to thank her for guiding me along.  Many times in the last year.  She really was more than my Mom.  So make sure you thank your mothers while they are alive, because it ain’t the same thing talking to a tombstone.

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Scroll down and start at the beginning if you are just joining.  (It’s more fun that way!)

Got the sauce simmering.  A bean sauce.  With some button mushrooms, sprig of oregano, couple of garlic cloves, mixed beans, one hot pepper, diced onions and chopped parsley.  And of course a dash of red wine.  Masi Campofiorin Ripasso 1996 “Nectar Angelorum Hominibus”.   Trust me, I only added a dash.  Because this is a beguiling sipper.  Almost on the verge of losing it.  Such ravishing tannins, but definitely without any edge.  Tannins have been suppressed, not suppressed, amalgamated into the whole wine.  This really is a fine quaff. 

Beatles upstairs.  Beatles downstairs.  I remember distinctly this day thirty years ago.  I was without “real” work.  Well, working as a model/waiter.  Not to denigrate any of those professions, but at the time I was not in the top five percentile so waitering paid the bills.  And so I found myself in a hotel/convention centre/rec complex off hwy 401 near London.  My good buddy Stef had invited me down for the weekend, having use of the hotel room and facilities as he was doing something business wise.  Bidniz!  “Yeah sure, I’ll come visit.  Sounds good.” 

And what shock hammered us both, when news of John Lennon’s murder hit the airwaves.  Disbelief.  Anger.  Unreality.  All those typical emotions that encompass tragedies.  How could this be?  A world gone mad.  Such a creative powerhouse, a lyricist and musician extraordinaire.  Yet, it was true.  Gunned down.  What irony.  If ever there was a man who stood so truly for peace.  And love.  Such a shame.  I do believe I wept.  But we went on, we all did.  Life is this omniscient, enveloping force that brings us along.  We get to shape it.  But, we can’t stop it.  And with time, even Lennon’s death became past news.  No less important or unimportant.  Just factually a thing that happened in the past. How we use it will shape or present and future.

Better go check my sauce.

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