Autumn is the time of year for venison and for hunting in the forest for the illusive white tailed deer for many Vermonters. For my family, it was one of the most cherished times of the year. My father and his brothers were avid hunters. My uncles always looked to my father for guidance in where to go and where the deer were traveling on a regular basis. Many evenings were spent planning and figuring out where to go the next morning. They came up with many original names for spots to sit and hunt. The white birch, the big hemlock, the ravine, the hole in the rock and countless others. It was funny in a way that we all knew where these places were, and how to find them in the woods of Cavendish. One time I remember Dad telling everyone he was going to take me up in the woods and sit on the ledges above Gaynon’s property. Though I was very small, and too young to hunt, Dad took me into the woods often. This would be the first time for me to go all the way to the top of Hawk’s Mountain.
One fall day when I was about 3 years old, Dad finally took me to the ledges. I remember I was behind him and feeling small, as the weeds were taller than I was. I kept reaching out ahead of me to find Dad’s belt, in an attempt to feel secure, that he wasn’t going to leave me behind if I fell and couldn’t see him. As we were walking, I followed him by literally stepping in his footprints as soon as his foot had vacated them. We made it to the very top of the mountain and sat on a ledge overlooking the valley to Springfield and the airport about 10 or more miles away. It was a warm sunny day and very clear. We saw an open field a long distance away. There were black dots in the field that appeared to be occasionally moving. My father asked me how I liked the view and told me we were seeing things miles away. I said “Wow, look at those crows in that field way over there.”
Dad instantly started laughing. “Boy, if those were crows, you wouldn’t be able to see them! Those are cows. They look tiny from here because we are so far away. The further you are from something the smaller it looks,” he said thoughtfully. It was a lesson in perspective, and it must have stuck, because I remember it so vividly today. I think back on this fondly because it was one of the gentle times I spent with my dad. I still go back to that ledge overlook and see what has changed in the view of the valley from there. I imagine those cows I once saw, and chuckle thinking about how I thought they were crows. It’s also the place I spread the old man’s ashes…it was his former request.
(c) Rick Wyman