This stand of trees reminds me of the time I was shot at.
A long time ago my mom and her friend took us kids out skating on the frozen slough at our undeveloped acreage north of town. It hadn’t snowed yet and the ice that encompassed the diamond and red willow trees was smooth and clear.
We skated round and round through the maze of willows, playing tag and leaping out from behind bushes to scare each other.
Proper skates make a big difference.
In those days, I really couldn’t skate, so I staggered around with my siblings and friends, just happy to be there. The skates I wore were my mom’s soft old leather figure skates with no ankle support and treacherous, pointy picks on the curved front of both blades. Yikes. My little feet slumped left and then right. They leaned toward each other and then away from each other, but they never stood straight.
As an adult, it was a joy and a surprise to don my brother’s discarded hockey skates of molded plastic which hang this moment from a large nail by their laces in my cold room. With those hockey skates on, I could suddenly skate! Not well, but I could stand up with my ankles straight and supported. This was a very good start.
It wasn’t while skating or even during the winter that I was shot at. It was in the early fall and very near that same slough where I heard that bullet zing past my right ear.
Mom and Dad had planted potatoes that spring in the newly-tilled soil of that acreage. One evening in the early fall, we drove out in our station wagon to dig up the hills. Mom and Dad did the digging and it was my job to gather the unearthed potatoes and load them into the burlap sack. It was my brothers’ job to run around in the tall grass.
“What are those weird lights?”
We hadn’t been out there long working in the slowly fading sun when through the branches of distant trees, we saw strange lights appear. One looked like the glow from a large halogen flashlight moving rapidly. The other light, an unusually-shaped red one, stood stationary.
Mom, Dad and I paused in our work, spades unmoving, uncovered potatoes lying on the dirt. That’s when we heard the first shot. It was distant and seemed more like a warning than a direct threat. No matter the shooter’s intent, we hit the ground, crawling along on our elbows. My parents dragged their shovels and yelled at my brothers to get in the car.
The second shot was close and it may have only been bad aim that saved one of us from harm that evening. Within seconds that seemed like hours, we were bouncing along the uneven ground, we kids crouched on the floor in the backseat and Mom down on the floor in front seat of the car. Dad drove and he drove fast.
All is well that ends well. Following this excitement, we made our visits to the acreage property during full daylight hours and probably less often than we did before. Finally, those of you less-interested in my gardening stories can say, “Wow. Gardening stories that include gunfire are more engaging!"