I plunged my Buck knife into the deer carving out a piece of meat for my dog to eat. Lady’s golden tail wagged as she laid on her front paws setting to work on the offering. I shot three arrows straight into the lungs and heart of the creature like I was taught. It came down easy as it was just a big refrigerator box on which I had drawn a stag looking figure with a Sharpie. My dog didn’t mind chewing the cardboard to play along.
She was a great dog and we ran around the forest for years together as explorers, hunters, treasure seekers, fishermen and woodland settlers. Even as I write this I can still imagine what it was like to wrap myself around her giant frame and bury my face in that comforting golden fur. Silent and strong she never strayed from my side. I can still smell her special flea and tick collar mixed with tomato sauce. We took more than one bath together bathed in that thick red anti skunk smell remedy.
When I was twelve I was in the thick of budding adolescence high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our five acre property was heavily forested with Oak, Fir, Cedar and Ponderosa Pine trees. I remember telling my parents –
“I’m never living in the woods. I’m outta here to the city as soon as I can.”
Of course what I didn’t realize at the time was that the adventures I had as a boy would run way deeper than teenage rebellion ever could. As an adult the only place I find peace and tranquility is among the swooshes of wind swept bows, the trickling of streams and the gentle songs of visiting birds.
I’ll be seeking refuge in the forested woodlands wherever I am for the rest of my life.
Danny Machal April 20th, 2015