Looking Back

This blog features poems by a native New Englander and octogenarian, as he looks back on the stomping grounds of his youth -- Chaffee's Woods, Kent Heights, Beach Pond, Escoheag, Wood River -- and his army days in Europe towards the end of WWII.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kent Heights

There is a standpipe on Kent Heights
That rises far above the land
And gave its water to the folks
That lived in houses found nearby.
Now this tank, three miles from home, ‘twas
Surrounded by some great red oaks
Where Gordon Soderlund and I
Hunted squirrels when we were young.

Ted and Pal
I hunted with my bow and dog
The Airedale Pal with whom I’d grown,
And Gordon with his B-B gun.
We made a threesome hard to beat
For when we spotted squirrels high
In those big oak trees, I would shoot
And if my arrow missed its mark,
Then he would try his B-B gun.

And often as the case would be
That squirrel ran right down the tree,
Where Pal was waiting all agape
To grab that squirrel with a shake
Or two, and then would bring to me
Until we had enough for stew.
And then a fire we would build
And eat those squirrels then and there.

Lots of squirrels went in that pot,
A pot we carried with some salt.
We always ate what we did shoot,
And always for our noontime meal.
But one year later, when we’d grown
Enough to hunt with twenty-twos,
We ventured forth in woods and fields
That surrounded old Kent Heights.

I can remember the time that Pal
Started a rabbit some way off
And chased him way across a field
Until they disappeared from sight,
And just as quickly came back out
To cross the field and come toward us
Who followed him, our rifles high
Then shot together, no word said,
Both shots hitting an inch apart.

And so we tried a rabbit stew.
We skinned it out, then built a fire
Then sat around 'til it was done.
To us it tasted oh so good
And to our dog, who shared with us
All we ate, regardless what, for
It was he who did the work and
Made it easy to fill the pot.

There was that woodchuck Pal had found
The one that bit him through the tongue
Which made that dog so very mad
That after feinting here and there
He grabbed that woodchuck by the scruff
And tossed him high into the air.
He landed hard and Pal jumped in
And just worried him to death.

So for two seasons we did hunt,
Shooting squirrels, which we ate
Along with rabbits when we could.
Then one day we crossed a stream
And near the woods, along a wall
We saw a fox, all bushy tailed
But Gordon had first shot that day
And killed that fox with just one shot.

A fox was rare for anyone
But for two boys just turned fourteen
It was a feat so hard to beat,
And so we gloated when his folks
Did look upon that red fox fur
And thought, how did these boys so young
Even ever see a fox? Yet
Here’s the proof, the skinned out fox.

Now Kent Heights will always be close,
For here it is I learned to hunt
And learned that squirrels, rabbits too,
Tasted great, after they were skinned
And put into a pot to stew.
I also learned that Pal, my dog,
Would tackle anything in sight
For this Airedale just loved to hunt.

Now I’m in my elder years
My hunting partner has passed on
And Pal, my faithful old Airedale,
Has reached his happy hunting ground,
And I no longer care to hunt.
I haven’t now for fifty years
But always will remember that
Kent Heights was part of my young life.

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