Life in Kickapoo Center at the Turn of the Century or
I'm glad I'm not a turkey.
"Say what you will about melodrama, it beats confusion."
Leif Enger-So Brave,Young,and Handsome
Baby Crows Dancing on a Drumhead(bite size uncommon crows) from Seven Roads Gallery
see more crows at www.sevenroadsgallery.com
I'm pounding pork loin. I buy it in bulk and flatten it with a rolling pin. Voila! I now have pork steak. I pack the ground pork loin into plastic freezer bags for later use. It saves approximately $1 per pound over the same fatty ground pork available locally. It's dark outside. I look up at the kitchen window. My neighbor's tractor is coming down the town road that is our driveway.
Pucci and I have completed the daily perimeter check. No deer. Nothing. Quiet as a church on a Monday morning. Our afternoon walks are earlier than planned. During hunting season, I want to be sure that we are visible. The route is shorter. The pooch and I do not venture into the deeper woods. We walk down the lane into the field below the east fence line.
The plat map labels this the town of Kickapoo Center. Once a thriving town with a sawmill, store, church and one room school, it no longer exists. Three out of four years the Kickapoo River floods this lowland area. When a French voyager jumped out of his canoe, supposedly after an argument with one of his mates one hundred years ago, he camped nearby. French voyagers were short, stocky and strong. Like thick tree trunks, they carried heavy loads and a canoe on their backs. Intellectual vitality wasn't part of the gene string. To this day there are many leftover geographical references to a voyager term for "wife/companion/main squeeze". When asked about their female companion, a voyager would first grab his crotch with a meaty fist. He'd then reply, " Eh, you mean my squaw!" Squaw translated literally meant pubic hair. S(c)ee you next Tuesday, is the euphemism. His companion-something to wrestle with under the covers at night. She kept him warm. Thus you have Squaw Peak in Phoenix and a collection of other offensive notations on a map. Flatlanders have no idea of the origin of the term. When the name is explained their indifference is equal to the disregard for the offensive stereotypical sports team names and logos: redskins, braves, chiefs and so on.
Pucci leaps and bounds over the flattened marsh grass. He scopes out every tree as a possible lookout. He's aware. Once he sat and watched an airplane overhead . He followed its progress from the southern horizon until it disappeared in the north. When our walk is over, he scoots inside. He knows there is a tasty treat waiting for him. He's glad to be out of the cold.
When Ron's tractor pulls to a halt in the driveway, I see that he's hauling something with the platform attached to the rear of the tractor. I quickly grab my denim jacket and go outside to see what he's got.
In the middle of the neighbor's cornfield behind Ron's farm is a cemetery. It is small, surrounded by a wire fence and weeds. There are three or four gravestones. the newest headstone is dated early 1900's. The older ones are limestone slabs. One leans against an upright marker. My neighbor is hunting late in the afternoon. He lies near the cemetery warm in coveralls and a blaze orange jacket. A dark, almost black doe appears at the edge of the cornfield below him. He cannot make a shot. The doe is facing in the opposite direction with her butt end toward Ron. Another doe appears. There's some confusion. Ron fires. It's a direct hit. He walks down toward the fence line. The doe has run some distance after the hit and as I understand it, she lies near a corner fence line at the end of the railroad grade that used to run to Kickapoo Center and the sawmill. Near the fence in the weeds is the last of the crows that floated away in the June flood. The crow is almost indistinguishable because of the weeds. He sees a flash of yellow. The beak. Driving the tractor down through several gates, Ron loads the doe and the crow onto the flat platform. When he pulls up in front of my kitchen window, I see a huge doe and a welcome sight. The crows have come home again.
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