The main reason I came home to Canada was to be nearer my son. Nearer is clearly relative. He’s 21 and that means if I want to see him I have to either stalk him or take a number.
I thought I was being smart a month ago and sent him a hundred bucks to use for gas money. A few days later his Facebook profile changes to one of him holding a brand new 12-gauge shotgun.
“When you coming to Digby buddy?” “Just as soon as I scratch some money together.” Great.
Guns are his new fascination and I’m not sure where it all came from. We didn’t let him have any toy guns growing up. But he did hear the stories from his Newfoundland grandfather.
Bill grew up in Rencontre Ouest, a tiny outport on the south coast of Newfoundland. I’ve been a couple times – once by boat and once by kayak. There’s nothing there now but four summer camps and the creosote-soaked stumps of the old telegraph line.
When we were there, Jony and I could row out any time we wanted, using the old marks (navigation rhymes), drop a line and have four or five cod in no time. We also fished trout in the upland lakes. I don’t ever remember seeing Jony happier than when he was casting into his grandfather’s old fishing spot.
What was a week of adventure for us was Bill’s normal day-to-day.
When Bill was 12 it was his normal chore to row about a kilometer across the bay and cut firewood with a handsaw. One day he saw a moose on top of the hill about 300m above the shoreline where he was cutting wood.
So he rowed home, got the rifle, rowed back, climbed the hill, shot the moose who was by this time on the other side of the hill. He threw it off the cliff, rowed a couple kilometers to where the moose was, butchered it, loaded it in the boat and rowed home. When he was 12.
That rifle, a 303 Enfield, has been gathering dust in the basement of Jony’s grandmother’s for years now.
Jony decided this spring, he’d take the courses and fill out the forms and pay the money and jump the hoops so he could register that gun. He wants to get a deer this fall.
I was down to visit him a couple weeks ago and we took the guns up into the hills and “practiced.”
No need to worry about Bambi just yet. Shooting is one thing, but hitting takes practice. No matter what, it’s going to be an interesting fall.
One thing Jony and I have always had in common is a love of the outdoors, the wild places. I taught him to carry a pack, to survive a swim in December, to cook bannock and to rig a four-pole tent with only three poles. He has followed me for years through the woods and brush and swamps.
Now, I guess it’s my turn to follow. In a whole new direction.