The Climb … segments 10-11-12

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George awoke stiff and cold from his unsettled night in the cave. Sunshine reflected off the shimmering snow outside, with the promise of warmth in its rays. George picked up his gun and made his way into the morning light. The sun on his face felt wonderful and took away some of the chill he felt. All around spread a world of white with only a whisper of a breeze in the trees above.

As he ate the last half of his granola bar, he was glad he kept the water bottle in his inside pocket. His body heat kept it from freezing solid. George knew his climb down to the valley below would help him warm up. Stomping his feet, numb with cold, he felt his joints talking to him telling him he was much too old for this kind of activity. His left arm was tingling again and he had a slight tightness in his chest, so George popped a glycerin pill and let it dissolve under his tongue. He always carried them with him for situations like this. His heart was not happy with all the strain, but the tightness and tingling soon subsided.

As George prepared himself for his climb down the mountain, he noticed some tracks in the snow outside the cave. On closer examination, he saw the imprints were cat tracks as big as his hand. The tracks left the cave entrance and trailed up the hollow. George looks further and noticed slight spots of red sprinkled very lightly in the snow next to the tracks.

He recalled what he thought was his bad nightmare from the night before. Did a mountain lion actually visit his cave last night? Did George actually take a shot at her grazing her just enough to bleed a trickle of blood in the snow?

George emptied the shells from his rifle. Only five shells in the gun instead of six! Still not believing what he saw, he climbed back into the cave. Sweeping the leaves aside, he found nothing. Then over in the back corner lay his expended shell. He could not believe what he was seeing. In the middle of the night, in his sleep, he had taken a shot at a mountain lion. Who would believe this tale? He knew Jim would love this story.

*****

Feeling extremely cold, George knew he needed a fire to warm himself before starting down the mountain. Dragging out a pile of dead leaves from the cave, he added some small dead limbs from the bottom of the white pines nearby. The leaves were dry from being in the cave and he soon had a blazing fire going. It was enough to take away some of the chill from his body.

By now the sun was shining through the tree tops and the pines covered with snow sparkled like a million diamonds. Overnight the snow accumulated to a foot and a half deep. It would take quite awhile to wade through it all and make it back to his truck.

When the fire had burned down to embers, George covered them with wet snow to put them out. He new it was time to start moving.

Deep snow made walking difficult for George, but he slowly made his way down the west side of the hollow so the morning sun could help warm him in the frigid morning air. After walking for an hour, he brushed the snow off a fallen log and sad down to rest. He really needed a drink so he scooped up some fresh snow and melted it in his mouth. The cold water trickling down his throat refreshed him.

As George was ready to trudge on, he heard a rustling in the pines across the way. In a moment two doe came into view followed by a third. George sat real still knowing they could not tell him from the trees, except by smell or movement. Suddenly they stopped and sniffed the air, ears perked up listening for any movement. Since the breeze was blowing up the hollow, it carried George’s scent away from them, so they continued moving slowly nibbling at the ends of young saplings sticking up above the snow.

What a beautiful sight to see thought George as he watched them moving further up the ridge. Another noise drew George’s attention back to the pines. George could not believe his eyes, as he watched the old buck come into view. He stood tall with a majestic rack that spread above his head like a king’s crown. Being cautious, he always seem to follow the doe who checked to see of there was any danger ahead. The old buck stopped and sniffed the air unaware that George was just across the hollow. It was as though he sensed something different in the morning air.

George’s heart was racing as he saw the buck come closer. This was the chance he had been waiting for and talking about for years. Now the opportunity was right in front of him, with a clear shot that few hunters could miss. George raised his rifle and looked through the scope. The cross-hairs focused right behind the old buck’s shoulder.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

A continuation of an earlier prosery prompt from d’Verse Poets Pub….  Scroll down my site to see earlier segments.

The Climb… segments 8 & 9

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Back home in Windy Gap, the sun was setting and George had not returned home. Since his wife had died three years earlier, he had live alone with his old hound dog, Blue. Like George, Old Blue had also seen his better years. He thought it best to leave old Blue at home for this trip.

Down at the end of the gravel lane, his neighbors the Clancy’s lived with their ten year old son Jim. Patrick and Nora were wonderful friends who looked out for George since his wife died. Nora took George hot meals from time to time and often invited him down to visit.

Patrick heard the roar of the old Dodge truck as George headed down the lane in the hours before sunup. George mentioned earlier that he was headed out hunting on Moonshine Ridge, hoping to come across the old buck that had eluded him the last several seasons.

George told Jim hunting stories and how he dreamed of getting one last trophy buck. Those who had seen the deer said it looked like he might have a rack with as many as fourteen points and weigh at least 200 pounds.

When Jim came in for supper that evening, he announced that George’s truck was not at the house and Old Blue was barking up a storm inside the house. With snow beginning to fall Patrick decided to go up and check on Old Blue and see if there was any sign that George might have returned home and left again.

*****

Patrick climbed up the steps to the porch and peered in the window. Nothing seemed disturbed as Old Blue jumped up at the window with a deep mournful wail. Jim found the key under the old crock on the porch and let himself in. Old Blue greeted him happily, jumping up on him trying to lick his face. Patrick left Old Blue run out in the yard to relive himself. He saw there was no water in Blue’s bucket and no food in his bowl. Very unusual for George not to tell anyone to feed Old Blue.

He went to the cupboard and took out the bag of dog food, pouring some into the food bowl. Blue eagerly gobbled it down crunching the hard bits between his teeth. Patrick added a little more and filled up his bucket from the old pitcher pump. Seeing the snow falling faster he had an uneasy feeling about what might have happened George in this extreme weather.

When George did not come home by 9:00 PM, Patrick knew something was wrong. He called the Sheriff’s office in River Bend, ten miles away. After telling the Sheriff what he knew about the situation, Sheriff Taylor said with the storm closing in, and with six inches already on the ground, there was no way they could send a search party into the mountain to look for George before morning. It would take four-wheeled-drive vehicles to make it back to Windy Gap. He told Patrick to meet him at the Sheriff’s office at 7:00 AM. They hoped George found shelter from the storm; otherwise, his chances of survival were very slim.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Earlier segments:  https://rothpoetry.wordpress.com/2021/08/18/the-climb-three-more-segments/

The Climb… segments 5-6-7

The Climb… segments 5-6-7

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The story of George the old hunter continues … trapped in a blizzard… while hunting in the mountains….  

The cave extended back about eight feet, with a ceiling only around four feet high. It was just wide enough so that George could comfortably turn around and stretch out in. Now that he had stopped moving the chill began to set in on him. He was glad for his hooded hunting jacket that offered some comfort, but not enough to feel warm. The evaporating sweat from his climb down the mountain only served to chill him even more.

Darkness was setting in as the snow continued to fall gently creating a wonderful world of white. George knew he must work quickly to get settled for the long night ahead. He had several matches, but they would not provide any lasting light. He took out his last granola bar and ate only half of it, although his stomach was empty and growling. He did the same with his last bottle of water. He knew he would need the rest in the morning for his journey back to his truck in the valley below.

A cold chill was coming through his jeans. George decided to pile the dry leaves in the cave over his legs to help insulate them just a little. Exhausted from his climb down the mountain, so he propped his 30-30 against the back of the cave and tried to get as comfortable as possible. It wasn’t long untill he drifted off to sleep.

*****

As the winter storm outside continued, George slept fitfully. His dreams came and went, some leaving him very unsettled. Just as he drifted off once more, he heard a frightful scream in the distance beyond the hollow. Immediately he recognized that sound as a mountain lion. They roamed these mountains and were usually illusive of people. Unless cornered, they kept their distance.

Thoughts raced through George’s mind. The sound was not far away; and from what George could tell, it was moving closer. He wondered if the mountain lion was also looking for his cave to find shelter from the storm. He sat up, took the safety off his rifle and laid his 30-30 across his lap.

He could not see much in the dark, although the snow offered a shadow of light at the mouth of the cave. Chills of a different kind ran up and down George’s spine, as the guttural sounds of the mountain lion came closer and closer to the mouth of the cave. George knew he had no choice, so propping his elbows on his knees he brought the 30-30 to his shoulder and waited.

*****

George could now hear the heavy breathing of the creature outside his cave. He checked to make sure his gun was ready. The cat stopped just beyond the entrance. Was she picking up George’s scent from inside the cave? He could hear her creeping forward on the snow covered ground.

George knew this was it. With his finger on the trigger he kept his eyes focused on the dim light at cave opening! The mountain lion’s head obscured the light at the cave entrance. She gave a loud snarl when she saw George in her den. George held his breath and squeezed the trigger. There was a deafening boom from the rifle!

George woke with a start in a cold sweat! It seemed so real. He checked, and his 30-30 was still standing propped against the cave wall. As he looked towards the entrance George could see all was quiet as the snow gently fell all around.

To be continued

For the beginning of the story scroll down through the blog page to the previous posts on The Climb or click below:

For a free pdf. file copy of the whole story, email me at: dwru27@aol.com

The Climb…. three more segments

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On Tuesday we did prosery at d’Verse Poets Pub. We had to write a 144 prose piece using the word Cloud along with a line from a poem. I wrote this short story. Several bloggers mentioned they wanted the story to continue, so I am attempting to carry on… This is the first segment followed by three new segments.

The Climb

Dwight L. Roth

The old hunter slowly made his way up the rocky mountain side. He used his 30-30 more as a cane than a gun. It was a beautiful winter day with a cool brisk wind blowing up the hollow. He wrapped his coat tightly around his shoulders as he stopped to rest.

George enjoyed hunting for the past forty years. As he unwrapped a Hershey bar, he thought about his younger days and the thrill of getting his first deer on opening day. Now the thrill was just being able to make it to the high top. The view there was spectacular.

At the top of the ridge, he found trees bent from the wind. The clouds were different today. George wasn’t sure, “But these clouds are clearly foreign, such an exotic clutter against the blue cloth of the sky” Distant snow clouds worried him.

The Story continues:

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***

He knew how fast the weather could change in early winter. George had hiked through the mountain laurel, almost to the high-top, the rise of rocks and scrub bushes that rose sharply before dropping down the backside of the mountain.

In the West he saw clouds were moving in more rapidly than he anticipated. He knew he must head back or he would be caught in a blizzard. In his younger days George could have easily stepped it off back toward the ravine in short order. But, his body would not cooperate like it once did. So, he slowly made his way through the laurel as best he could.

Reaching the head of the hollow, he looked out across the mountains and realized there was no way to make it down before the snow closed in on him. He had to find shelter and find it quickly!

*****

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It started as sleet and freezing rain, quickly turning into heavy snow. He remembered stories of hunters who got trapped in blizzards and did not make it home alive. George was determined that would not be his fate.

Having hunted the mountain many times, George remembered a large outcropping of rock on the other side of the hollow about half way down. If he could make it that far, a shallow cave at the base would provide shelter from the wind and snow.

Although going down was easier than coming up, one had to still be careful not to slip and fall, or step in between two rocks and sprain an ankle, or God forbid, break a leg. Carefully George made his way through the falling snow. In the distance he could see the large rocks, black against the white blanket of snow.

*****

As George reached the overhanging rocks, he could see his short breaths projecting like tiny steam clouds from a locomotive. He also felt an unusual tingling in his shoulder that radiated down his left arm. It concerned him, but he knew he had to find protection for the night so he pressed on.

He climbed up and peered into the shadows of the opening hoping not to find another animal taking shelter there. He breathed a sigh of relief when he realized it was empty except for a large pile of dead leaves that had blown in over time. The cave provided shelter against the wind and blowing snow.

With snow falling, covering everything, there was no way for George to build a fire or gather wood to keep it going. He knew it was going to be a long cold night. Would anyone miss him?

To be continued:

If you want more let me know…

Photos: Dwight L. Roth

This is where the story originated:

Today at d’Verse, Merril introduced our prosery prompt clouds. In prosery we are given a line from a poem of her choosing and it must be incorporated into the flash fiction story as given. The line she gave us was: “But these clouds are clearly foreign, such an exotic clutter against the blue cloth of the sky” from Clouds – by Constance Urdang

For a free pdf. file of the complete story, email me at: dwru27@aol.com

Frost Flowers

See the source image

Have your ever seen frost flowers growing on a cold winter morning? Many years ago when I was much younger, I enjoyed going deer hunting. Since I was a school teacher, the Thanksgiving break was a great time to hunt. I remember getting up very early on Thanksgiving morning, and driving my Ford Maverick back into the mountains near Broadway, Virginia. I forded a small stream and parked in the pines at the bottom of the ridge.

It was a very cold morning and the air was heavy with moisture.  I climbed the side of the mountain, the sun was just coming up.  I noticed that the sun was shinning off of ice crystal that had grown forming beautiful flowers on the ground. It was one of the most beautiful sites I have seen. The air temperature and the moisture in the air were just the right combination to produce frost flowers.  The sun soon melted them away as I made my way to the top.

Mountain frost flowers

Crystals soon to melt away

Deer and hunter dance

**************

Frost Flower Photo:  kuriositas.com   (This is very similar to the ones I saw)

This Haibun is for Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge with the prompt winter mountain.

Join us at:

#Haikai Challenge #64 (12/8/18) winter mountains (fuyu no yama) #haiku #senryu #haibun #tanka #haiga #renga

Fall in the Woods

Dwight with bird house from Lauralville 001

Growing up playing in the woods all summer was wonderful. We ran over the trails and played Cowboys and Indians, Davey Crockett, and Daniel Boone. We had no video games or smartphones. We spent our days in the outdoors. I hope you will bear with me for reposting this bit of nostalgia. I posted it last year and will probably post it again next year. Perhaps you can picture the changes in our woods as fall came on each year. This is where I grew from a child into a teenager at Masontown, Pennsylvania.

Fall in the Woods at Masontown

I can still remember, like it was yesterday
Fall in the woods at Masontown

Cold weather closed in early
Leaves in the woods
Turned shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown
What was once a lush green woods
Filled with green hollow stemmed weeds
Now becomes blanketed
With a soft silent coating of leaves

The Silver Maple and Butternut next to the house
Dropped their yellow-tan leaves
The quince turned yellow-brown
As the apple trees blended into the scene
With rich deep red leaves
Highlighted by a back drop of color
Pouring from the shallow woods
Extending from our house
To the church cemetery

On the driveway black walnuts still in the hulls
Driven over with car tires
Squishing and shelling
Removing the hard nuts inside
Picking them up, peeling off the excess
While blends of saffron, amber, and walnut stains
Are left on my hands and under my nails

From driveway to furnace room
Down in the basement
The nuts carried to be dried
For cracking with hammer and brick

Out in the field behind the chicken house
Rows of asparagus
Lined the edge of the woods
Bent over like a hundred old men
Kinked and twisted
Dry hollow stems
Seed pods still clinging stubbornly to the tops
Some will weather the snow and wind
Only to be disked up in the spring
To start all over again

Masontown 1972 (2)

Out in the woods,
Paths where our bare feet ran all summer long
Disappeared under layers of leaves
As frost took its toll on the trees
Now I can walk through the woods,
With a borrowed single-shot 12 gauge,
Looking in the pit holes for rabbits,
Flushing out ring-necked pheasants
From the edge of the corn field
Just beyond the back side of the woods

Life was simple then,
Rabbits shot were few and pheasants even fewer
But walking through the woods and field
Was an experience I enjoyed
Just for the sake of being there

The woods remained stark and bare
For the rest of the winter,
But it’s passing and recurring beauty
Left indelible impressions
On my mind for years to come

Sometimes I wish
I could just be there once again

Masontown, PA circa 1949 001

Photos: Dwight L. Roth & Family Album

 

 

Fall in the Woods at Masontown

dwight-with-bird-house-from-lauralville-001

Fall in the Woods at Masontown

I can still remember, like it was yesterday

Fall in the woods at Masontown

Cold weather closed in early

Leaves in the woods

Turned shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown

What was once a lush green woods

Filled with green hollow stemmed weeds

Now becomes blanketed

With a soft silent coating of leaves

 

The Silver Maple and Butternut next to the house

Dropped their yellow-tan leaves

The quince turned yellow-brown

As the apple trees blended into the scene

With rich deep red leaves

Highlighted by a back drop of color

Pouring from the shallow woods

Extending from our house

To the church cemetery

 

On the driveway black walnuts still in the hulls

Driven over with car tires

Squishing and shelling

Removing the hard nuts inside

Picking them up, peeling off the excess

While blends of saffron, amber, and walnut stains

Are left on my hands and under my nails

From driveway to furnace room

Down in the basement

The nuts carried to be dried

For cracking with hammer and brick

 

Out in the field behind the chicken house

Rows of asparagus

Lined the edge of the woods

Bent over like a hundred old men

Kinked and twisted

Dry hollow stems

Seed pods still clinging stubbornly to the tops

Some will weather the snow and wind

Only to be disked up in the spring

To start all over again

 

Out in the woods,

Paths where our bare feet ran all summer long

Disappeared under layers of leaves

As frost took its toll on the trees

Now I can walk through the woods,

With a borrowed single-shot 12 gauge,

Looking in the pit holes for rabbits,

Flushing out ring-necked pheasants

From the edge of the corn field

Just beyond the back side of the woods

 

Life was simple then,

Rabbits shot were few and pheasants even fewer

But walking through the woods and field

Was an experience I enjoyed

Just for the sake of being there

The woods remained stark and bare

For the rest of the winter,

But it’s passing and recurring beauty

Left indelible impressions

On my mind for years to come

Sometimes I wish I could just be there once again.