Tristan, Eagle and Fawn

August 24, 2008

When Tristan learned that, somewhere in the tangled recesses of his grandmother’s farm was a 21-foot motorboat, badly damaged in an accident decades ago and still sitting on its trailer, he couldn’t settle until he’d seen it.

He is 12, after all, and the world beckons, and what better place for a city boy to answer that call than at his Gramma’s farm?

So, armed with his pellet gun and a hunting knife he had found in my desk and “borrowed” sometime earlier (he and I will speak of that later,) off he went, a long, skinny figure dressed in the wrong kinds of clothes for clambering around in the scrub, but moving in that quick, silent way he has that makes him able to vanish right in front of your eyes while he’s supposed to be doing homework.

Nobody is really sure where on the 28 acres the boat sits. Just “back there” in the woods. Perfect, for a boy intent on discovery. He had already found a set of crawfish claws down by the dam at our house, and what he thought was a complicated bone half-buried in a bank. It turned out to have been a glob of melted and burned plastic, but the excitement of finding it is what counted at the time.

And while mowing the grass at the farm, had seen a bald eagle fly right over him, and made the acquaintance of the garden groundhog. It had been one adventure after another.

And it was going to get better still.

T stopped in his search for the boat and looked around; probably around the time he realized he was lost. He looked down at his feet and punched up his Gramma’s number on his cell phone.

“Gramma, I found a little baby deer!”

It was curled up asleep…right at his feet.

When T spoke, the little fella awoke, jumped up, and froze. He related that to his Gramma. And then, the “daddy deer, with really big, you know, antlers,” showed up.

I suspect the antlers, at this time of year, were more panicked imagination on T’s part, that, but the fact was, there was a grownup deer and there was Tristan standing next a fawn, perhaps its fawn.

As he told me the story, I felt this little rush of panic. I’m no expert on deer, but plenty of animals get violent if they think their young are threatened. I imagined finding T in some clearing, stomped and gored. I’ve since been told that deer are not so protective, but even so…

Then I snapped out of it. T was right in front of me, unscathed, eyes wide, telling his story. He got away unscathed, perhaps out of pure dumb luck, but then I’ve had my own escapes thanks to the same agency.

He said the big deer made a snorting noise – he reproduced it as well as he could – and both deer scampered away.

A little later, he spotted the bald eagle perched in a tree. He called Gramma. She said if the eagle is in a tree, perhaps there is a nest nearby. He looked around and, sure enough, there it was.

“It’s so big! Like a tabletop!”

He never found the boat, but he worked his way out of the woods, finally, finding himself at the neighboring farm, where he got to know the resident grandson of the owners, who, Tristan said, gets to drive an ATV, a motorbike and, miraculously, the farm’s tractors.

I confess to a little envy. It’s been a long time since I went wandering, mostly lost, in the woods, open to anything. I’ve had my own moments, the Cooper’s hawk that landed next to me when I sat on a deadfall, or finding the abandoned barn miles out in the woods, and inside, a vintage car, in brand-new condition except for the half-dozen bullet holes in the trunk, the fight I and my dog Gramps had with an old boar possum who wasn’t as good at playing dead as he might have been.

All the sorts of things that give parents gray hair, I suppose, and all part of the forays one begins to make out into the world as one’s childhood begins to slip its moorings.

T was with us for a week and we’re both recovering. It’s been a long time since Sue had children underfoot, and I never have, so it was….an experience. We have found most of the miniature metal cars that adorn a shelf in the living room, and the cats are a little less edgy. A few things keep turning up in places where they don’t belong, or, conversely, turning up not to be in the places where they do. It may be a week or two before our old-fogey lives get back to normal.
© 2008 Marsh Creek Media,
Gettysburg, Pa.
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites: