Friday, September 29, 2023

Never the Twain I'll meet

HARLEY I'M HOME: Twain aboard her "flying horse." I think the singer
would feel at home on my bike, too.
I hope Shania--when she sees me in the audience next month--doesn't get thrown off her game. 

You forgetting what rhymes with "under" or--worse--instead of singing "no one needs to know right now," she'll be like, "Helena doesn't need to know right now." (Editor's note to editor's wife: Just joking! Ha-Ha!)

can only go up from here

But anything's possible, right? And a lot of people will have ponied up good money for the show. I'd feel horrible if I muck it up for them. 

I'll explain why in a minute but for now you need to know that on Sunday, October 22, my sister Mary and I will be attending the Shania concert at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. 

Mary, another Shania afficionado, had been given two tickets to the show by our generous big sister Bertholde and for my birthday, Mary graciously asked me to join her. 

I literally had to fight back tears and I would not write that unless it was true. 

I have the world's greatest sisters. 

Furthermore and I find  this next part hard to believe. I have never seen Shania live. 

I came really close a few times. One morning back in 2013 I was walking through a basement corridor of a Vegas hotel when I heard Any Man of Mine coming from an empty rehearsal space. At about 10 a.m.! Was that really Northern Ontario's own Eilleen Regina Edwards warming up?

SHANIA TWIN: I did not include Stacey Whitton-Summers
in this blog just so I could make another twin pun
but I woulda.
I followed the music, found the room and was greeted, proudly I should add, by a woman about my age who told me she was the proud mom of Shania tribute act Stacey Whitton-Summers, whose voice I was hearing. 

I just remembered. I also once met Waylon Jenning's brother Bo.

I got considerably closer two decades earlier. 

I was working for the Financial Post. A story assignment had me visit the central Ontario village of Midland and while there I was driving a rented car eastbound along highway 12 and heard--for the first time--on the local c&w station Kixx 106 --Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? I remember the deejay saying that the singer, a newcomer to the country charts, Shania Twain, had recently performed at the nearby Deerhurst Inn, in Muskoka.

My discovery of Shania is a matter of public record, and we have a clipping of it somewhere in the house. Believe it or not, a few days after I got back from that trip, I was approached by a photographer and reporter with the Toronto Sun for a Man on the Street interview. (Who doesn't live for those moments?)

The reporter asked me what music I'd been listening to recently and I said something along the lines of "a new Canadian singer named Shania Twain."

Also working at the Financial Post was a woman named Patty-Lou Andrews. Not only was she my age, she was also Shania's personal friend and helping the rising star with publicity and the press.  

Patty Lou--to whom I immediately took a liking because my oldest niece is Patty Lou and I'm extremely proud of her--then invited me to go hear and meet her pal Shania, who was playing later that evening an hour away, in Hamilton.

Full disclosure? Andrew was single and I wasn't. 

An evening in a bar with Patty Lou, Shania and Peter was a terrific idea but so far out of the question it doesn't even warrant a question mark.

Staying home was the right thing to have done. 



I would have liked to have tracked own Patty Lou and ask how the evening went. Did she perhaps tell Shania about a young editor who thought she was so talented? And then did she show the newspaper clip of my Man on the Street interview and then did they use that to help promote the darling of Area Code 705 to the absolute heavenly heights of stardom?

Am I partially responsible for Shania's success? 

I can't ask Patty Lou. Sadly, she died young, at 46, and Shania included dedications to her on a few albums.

I know. 

I'll ask the singer herself next month when we finally see each other.  

Unless--after she recognizes me--things go south.  


Friday, September 8, 2023

Doing the Iris jig

to me. Iris has always loved looking at books.
You don't suppose she can re...nahh...

This past Saturday morning, at about 11:00, my wife Helena and I were sitting across from each other on our front porch.

Our 16-year-old housemate, Professor Iris Cat--Iris to friends--strode out the front door and walked right between us, heading for the little patch of garden that she finds so comfortable and private. 

Scarcely had her little cottonball face passed our shins when this happened.

Helena said softly, "Iris."

Iris stopped, turned her head slightly but--and in less time it takes to count "one Mississippi" --realized what she'd done and resumed walking as if nothing had happened.

Helena and I looked at each other with that did-you-see-what-just-happened? expression.

Iris answered to her name. 

Ever since she joined our household on our son Michel's 16th birthday in November, 2005, Iris has had us believing she didn't recognize her own name. 

It was like that moment in an old detective movie, when the bank robber who'd been passing as a Presbyterian minister for years gets tripped up by a clever plainclothes detective, and flinches . 

Undercover Dick: "No disrespect Parson, but see the way that woman over there's standing? Reminds me of a poker game. Yeah, that's right. A strip poker game;  one night a lotta years back, in Baton Rouge. With a few of the saloon girls. After we knocked over the First National Bank." 

SEEING IRIS-to-IRIS: Forget about reading books,
what about minds?; Specifically, mine.
Robber, tearing off his minister's collar: "Dagnabbit! You caught me!"

After 16 years, Iris's jig--an Elizabethan word meaning joke, by the way--was up.

And why am I telling you this now? 

Because she just did it again; she proved she understands English.  

Thirty five minutes ago--at 2:30 p.m--Iris was supposed to have been on the examining table of the kindly veterinarian named Dr. Henry Skutelsky at the Roncesvalles Animal Clinic. 

Not that there's anything wrong with her. 

She simply doesn't want to go to the doctor and must have heard us mention the exact time of the appointment. She's been AWOL since noon. 

We've depleted the entire come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are repertoire.

I pretended to open a can of soup just to make the can opener sound. 

I shook the catnip treat jar.

course she understands everything you say.
I even lay on the couch and pretended to crack a book. I'm currently three quarters of the way through Agatha Christie, A Very Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley; a surprisingly lively look at the famous crime writer. Dour and prim Christie was most certainly not. I wouldn't be be surprised if, at some point, the same woman who invented Hercule Poirot turned up in a strip poker game in Baton Rouge. But I digress. 

Typically, the moment I plop down on the couch to read, Iris emerges and extends her left front paw to take my attention from whatever it is that's keeping me from petting her. Not today.

We've looked in every open box, bag and container, including the Molson Canadian collapsible zip-up beer cooler. 

First thing I do most mornings is walk into the front room and pull open the window coverings and the zipping sound tells Iris it's time for her morning skritch. Tried that at around 1:20. No luck.

Often, but not today, Iris can be found sitting on the modem upstairs near the TV; Helena thinks it's because the modem's always warm but I believe it's because Iris knows cats belong on the Internet. She wasn't there, either.

LAST LAUGH: Iris always
gets it.
Here's the thing.  I know why she's hiding so well today. 

Back in June Helena and I were having a very non-judgmental cool-headed discussion about the bad old days and what sort of prospects aging housepets back then could look forward to. Or not. 

When I was young, ill dogs and cats were dealt with quite differently than they are today. I think you know what I'm talking about. 

This was a time when nobody ever paid real folding money for a kitten; in fact, frequently, finding homes for them proved quite difficult.

I figure Iris must have been in the room when Helena and I were reminiscing.  

And today she's hiding like she's never hidden before. Can hardly say I blame her.

I'll let you know when she arrives... oh wait, there she is now. 

The cat came back.


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Better childrearing through chemistry

TINY TYRANT TIME: Me, doing my morning paper route
Here's what was going through my  mother Huena's head when she bought me my first--and only--chemistry set. And oh no, it was definitely not, "this should spark young Peter's interest in science so he'll grow up to be a health-care professional like me."

I'm pretty sure mom was like, "A chemistry set! Peter will have a great time!" 

Huena was fun-oriented that way.

She spoiled me. Something perfect. 

The chemistry set? Just another example of how she seemed to take great personal glee in watching me try new things.  When I arrived home with my first motorbike, a gold '72 Honda 250, Huena said she wanted a ride. 

(Incoming late brother Ed channel: "Yup," said he. "I always say, try anything once. Once is research, twice is perversion.")

SNEEZY RIDER: During allergy season, the
fairing on this, my first Honda, was both
 a curse and a bless-you-ing. 
I didn't start writing this blog to tell you about how spoiled I was but--before we return to the story of the exploding chemistry set--that's what you're going to get.

Exhibit "eh?" of Peter's indulgedness? When I was a little kid I whined one Spring day that I had to wait ALL THE WAY THROUGH SUMMER UNTIL late September to have my birthday. Chimes in my darling older  brother Tom, who was born May 17th: "You can have my birthday. I'm not using it." Pretty spoiled, eh? 

Not once did I hear "You are going to eat everything on your plate, young man." 

Neither did Huena--a registered nurse--discourage me from pouring, on to a bowl of Sugar Frosted Flakes--spoonfuls of grade-A granulated white refined Redpath sugar.

Throughout all of elementary school, whenever I wanted to stay home from school, all I had to do was tell my nurse mom that I had a sore stomach, and she let me.

Did it happen a lot? When our grade eight class put together a yearbook, my classmate Michael Kohut or maybe Tim Gallagher wrote something along the lines of, "Rumour has it Peter actually attended one full week of school this year." 

I had an early morning Globe and Mail paper route; but whenever I didn't feel like getting out of bed Huena shanghai'd one of my older brothers or sisters to do it for me.  I still got the pay. 

Jeopardy answer? "The House." Jeopardy question?"Growing up, what did Peter have run of?"

My nickname--as invented by one of those same older brothers or sisters--was "Little Hitler." 

My parents never yelled at me..

POLYMATH-A-MATIC: Not only do I design scientific experiments,
I draw badges for people like me. (Prototype by the author.)
Even the day Mike Blondin and I set the house on fire.

We were playing with the  chemistry set I was just talking about. (Hadn't mom seen the word set right there on the box? As in set a fire? Hahahaa.)

I can't remember what grade we were in. I'm thinking six. Mike and I were in the boys' room on the second floor of our one-and-a-half-storey home, farting around with the chemistry set's so-called Bunsen burner. I use "so-called" because that one-and-three-quarters-inch-tall and one-by-one-inch-square glass jar with a screw-on cap was no closer to a real Bunsen burner--the scientific device invented by the German Chemist Robert Bunsen in 1855--than this blog is to real journalism.)

If anybody recalls what else was in those chemistry sets, besides test tubes, I'd like to hear it. Who knows what might have been? Given the chance, me and Mike coulda built Northern Ontario's first meth lab!

But the only thing we were interested in was fire.  

One of us decided he wanted to see what would happen if you poured alcohol directly on to the flame . Here's the answer. It splashes on the bedroom wall and the whole thing lights up.

Fortunately, our laboratory had a huge workng sink in it. 

The Carter household had three bedrooms. The bedroom facing our street was the girls'; the backyard-facing one was the boys', and my parents slept downstairs. Way before I and most of my brothers and sisters came along, my parents rented out the second storey and that's why there was a sink.

So when the house wall started burning--there was at least four square feet of wall aflame--I ran downstairs yelling "fire fire!" and Mike turned on the water and blew his lungs out and miraculously doused the flame. (It could have something to do with the religious statues and icons my mom filled all the spare space with. As I believe Ed once said--except I think he was talking about the hired help-- "every cook and nanny." We had more holy pictures than did St. Clement's, our local.) 

The outcome could have been worse.

Still, I didn't get reprimanded. 

Maybe my mom, after having raised nine kids before me, was just  tired. Perhaps she was secretly hoping the place would go up in flames and she'd get a bigger replacement.  

My sister Mary was on hand that day.  And she still lives in the same house. 

I could phone and ask her if she remembers what ensued, but what good would that do? She'd probably just tease me and laugh.  

More at than with, but that's what siblings are for.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Where the eavesedropping meets the eavestroughing

WORK WORK WORK, that's all I ever do. 

I'm going to tell you a true story that could-- if things went really wrong-- get at least two people into trouble, and I sincerely hope nothing bad happens. But too bad if it does; the story's just itching to be shared. I'm mean that way.

First, you have to know that I am lucky enough to have a job I can do on my front porch, comfortable in a Muskoka chair that my son Michel built. I love my work and enjoy the passing scenery and sometimes, I even get jealous of me.

The houses on my street are close together. A space of about two feet separates our home from the neighbour to the east.  

Two Thursdays ago, at 1:00 in the afternoon, a tradesperson showed up to do some work on the house next door. They (we're sticking with non-identifiable pronouns as much as possible here) had to squeeze in between the buildings and fix something immediately beside where I was sitting, though they were crouched on the ground and I was up on the porch.

When they arrived, I greeted them, offered a bottle of water and even treated them to a joke about their particular line of business.  Trade-specific jokes are useful tools. (If you can't be handy be funny right?) I once met a guy in an airport lounge who was on his way to a flooring convention."What's the difference between an exploding kitchen and a famous French emperor?" I asked. And then I answered: "One of them is linoleum blown apart." 

That is not the joke I told last week but the tradesperson laughed then got right to work. Two feet away from me. 

After they started working, they phoned their spouse. Who was at home. And they wanted to chat. On speaker. 

(I know.... you're getting ahead of me, aren't you?)

Shortly after the conversation started, the spouse started tending to a baby. Turns out the little girl was less than a year. The young family had recently attended another child's Christening and are invited to yet another. 

The worker agreed to go but added "it's going to cost us a gift, and money's not growing on trees, so the spread better be good."

And they were planning a holiday.  

I also -- and this is important -- kept scraping my chair and clearing my throat and harumphing to remind the tradesperson that I was right there. They did not care.

The spouse was heading off to Walmart and wanted to know if they should buy special diapers for going to the beach. I did not know such diapers existed. The spouse suggested making a list before going to Walmart and then broke out into "I'm making a list; checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice" and their voice was beautiful.  I wanted to say "whoever you're talking to there could be a professional singer," but I held back. 

Then the conversation turned to how exciting Christmas was going to be with the baby this year and the tradesperson said they are going to have to work hard to make sure their little girl doesn't grow up too influenced by "social media and Instagram and all that crap." 

The entire conversation was very cheerful and, in fact, downright reassuring. This was a happy little family. And just so you don't think I'm awful, I kept reminding the tradesperson that I could hear. At one point I started whistling 

They just kept on talking. 

Until another phone rang.  

That call, also handled on speaker phone, was from a colleague, a younger person involved in the same trade. 

And that younger person asked about how to handle a certain professional procedure because they'd had a problem on the job the day before. They actually said the address where the foul-up had taken place.

Still on speaker phone. 

Tradesperson number one heard their colleague's concern, explained what could have gone wrong, and said the equivalent of "whooaaa! You didn't follow the right procedure. You're lucky nothing bad happened."

SPEAKING OF CRIME: I just swiped this image off 
the Internet. It's actually for something called "Rear
Window, The Board Game." I know people who'd kill 
at the Psycho version.

And then...

"This stays between you and me, okay? Don't tell anybody about what you did. You're lucky but it stays between you and me."

I felt like I was in a Hitchcock movie.

Because I  know exactly what they were talking about, I can assure you everything's okay. A step was overlooked, the person got away with it and can go "Phew!" with a great degree of relief. Things could have gone way wrong but didn't. I've been there myself many times. 

Then it was back to the spouse, who was told, "sorry. I was coaching a rookie," and "what he admitted to me just now that's grounds for getting fired." 

About an hour had passed since the tradesperson arrived. The job was almost done. But not before one of my favourite comments: "These young guys think they know everything. When I graduated five years ago, we had way better training."

During the convesation, I was working on how I was going to tell the worker that I'd overheard the conversation and they might want to be a bit more discreet in the future but I had to take a work-related call at the same time as they got into their truck to leave so I missed my chance.

In the end, no harm was done; the neighbour's house got fixed, the younger tradesperson learned a valuable lesson; the older one got to be a hero and good spouse.

And I--who knew all the details and could, if I so chose, let the tradesperson's company know what happened and provide dates, names and details--suddenly felt a lot like Google, because that's what Google knows about me.


I'm sure glad I've never made any mistakes.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

How I just learned to just love pro wrestling

Never mind. 
Saturday June 25, 2023. 2:45 p.m.

I was standing in the afternoon sun when I all of a sudden found myself on the receiving end of a rib-threatening (and sorta, like, wet) hug. 

I'm talking an in-your-face body-slam embrace; a hug that with the addition of a simple vowel, becomes huge. (See what I did there?) 

A bearhug by which all others will from now on be measured. 

The nuclear-powered clasp came at the hands (and arms and legs and what have you) of one of my scores of cousins, Jennifer Crawford, a.k.a. Master Chef Canada 2019; a.k.a., Moon Miss.

That's right. When Crawford's not whipping up gourmet meals they're whupping evil enemies' backsides as a pro wrestler. I know. Almost hard to fathom. Both take sooo much focus and hard work.

Moments before our hug, Moon Miss and tag team partner Space Monkey suffered a wrestling loss to "Clan Freedom," kilt-wearing  (supposed) Scots named Freedom Walker and Bradford Montague. 

The match was the fourth of six that afternoon. The show ran from 2 until 4:30 and was organized by an outfit I'd never heard of before--but I'm a huge fan of now--Junction City Wrestling. 

It all unfolded in a four-basketball-courts-sized parking lot, two sides of which, thank goodness, happen to be the patios of two microbreweries. Two other breweries, Shacklands and Rainhard, sponsored the show. 

I am particularly fond of "Shacklands," because the matches took place in what's called Toronto's Stockyards neighbourhood; home to a bunch of old and some still-operating meat-packing operations.  (This geography spices the whole affair with a sort of harmless sleazy Rocky or Requiem For a Heavyweight air.)

We're talking an outdoors, bring-your-own-chair entertainment, rain or shine. 

Lest you're interested--and I am!--next up is "OctoberFist," slated for Sat. Sept. 23. 

But as yesterday's hard-working and overtly vaudevillian announcer T. Bernie Diamond told the audience, "So what if it's in September? Octoberfist can happen any time."

In their fight, Moon and Monkey were the crowd faves; Clan Freedom? Mean and evil. 

STIRRING THINGS UP: Yes, that's Moon Miss
in there, doin' that. Sorta scares me!
M&M got cheered loudly, Clan Freedom vociferously dissed. The ref, Brandan Doty, too, took his share of disapproval. And rightly so, I'd say. Doty even quote unquote let the tag-team match spill out of the ring and onto the pavement. For shame, we all agreed. 

Despite getting beat, post match, Moon Miss and Space Monkey laughed, smiled and high-fived fans en route to the dressing room. 


Moon Miss--who had travelled from their Nova Scotia home to compete and had no way of knowing I would be on hand--spotted me standing near the steps that go up to the change-room door. 

And you know that thing pro wrestlers do when they stick their arm out and point at their victim before pouncing? That's what Moon Miss did. 

Sorta scared me a bit.

Standing between Moon Miss and me was a slender ponytailed guy; about the same build as me. I'd been cheering (and boo'ing) right along with him and he was politely impressed when at one point I told him my mom was Moon Miss's Grandmother's sister and that I was there on behalf of about six gazillion relatives from across Canada who are all so proud of Moon Miss it's almost difficult to express. He and I sorta bonded.

So I actually felt a bit bad at how MM actually jumped over the chap to get to me. 

I'm not exaggerating about the jump. All these wrestlers can do that. You gotta see these people!

BORED OF THE RING? Moon Miss (yay!) takes it to
the streets with Clan Freedom (boo!)

All the performers, Moon Miss, Space Monkey, Clan Freedom, The Mighty Cadman, Salsa King, the entire slate of competitors leap like leopards and toss each other around like bowling pins. They can take falls and throw  themselves from high off the ropes, on to the (very noisy) ring surface, pop up again, do a roundhouse kick, withstand a punch and never break from the eye contact and rapport they maintain with the audience.

These people are fit; and funny; and real. 

At one point--this was a few bouts after the hug to end all hugs, I was standing beside a woman who looked to be in her 30s, a toddler hoisted on her shoulders. 

Watching the wrestlers toss each other about, appearing to actually be in pain and also seeming to joyfully inflict suffering, I asked the mother if junior knew that the performers might not be hurting each other. 

(Full goofball disclosure? A few seasons ago, Moon Miss actually did break a bone in action and got sidelined awhile. So at yesterday's match, when Moon Miss was throwing down with either Freedom Wallace or Bradford Montague and the Scot was just a-wailin' on MM's once broken limb, the protective older cousin in me was like, "Wait! What if it's really hurting??" Newsflash: It wasn't.)

But back to the sideline mom.

shared DNA in there somewhere!!
"[One of the wrestlers on the card] is my husband," the mom said. (I didn't ask her permission to use her partner's real name in this blog so I didn't. But I coulda. Then again, who'd want a guy like that mad at them? Ha.)

Turns out both mom and dad are, by day, computer programmers and dad wrestles as an avocation. "At our house, every night after dinner, it's wrestle wrestle wrestle," mom laughed. 

This all-star wrestling is a thing that a whole bunch of really smart people do for fun!. 

Meanwhile, back at the hug....

After Moon Miss leapt the ponytailed wrestling fan and landed around me, I clasped my cousin hard and said, "I love you."

And here's what the still sweaty athlete, moments after giving it their all in a fiercely fought but fun-filled match, panted back: "Moon Miss loves you soooooo much."

I think I just figured out why the hug was so memorable. 


Monday, May 15, 2023

Who could ask for more?

We have one of those little "leave a book take a book" libraries in our front yard. 

My son Michel and daughter Ria built it as a Mother's Day gift for my wife Helena more years ago than I can remember, but my love for the thing increases by the day. 

My dad used to say we make the word love do too much heavy lifting and he was right, so I try to save it for the real mccoy. So when I say love, I don't fart around.  

Yesterday afternoon, the library proved (again) why it qualifies. 

At about 4:00., I was sitting on a tiny gardening chair, behind the structure, pulling up weeds. It was cloudy, but the air was warm and wind-free. The Beatles’  When I’m 64  “Doin' the garden diggin' the weeds” – kept worming through my ears. (I'd read somewhere that McCartney was 15 when he wrote that song. How could he have known?)
SHHH IT'S A LITTLE LIBRARY: And early some mornings,
the filing system is dewy.

A man and woman who looked in their early 30s stopped in front of the library. At first, I kept pulling weeds, pretending to ignore the visitors but just itching for an excuse to talk. 

It arrived. 

The woman: "Lots to choose from here."

I watched her take a book and  said, "We love when people use our library. What kind of books do you like?"

Her: "Anything factual, like history."

Then she surprised me with, "What about you?"

Me: "Ah, well, I ah actually read everything...unless it feels like homework. If I have to read something, I won't like it. I hate homework. Same as working in the garden. If I'm told I have to do it I won't wanna but if it's my choice, it's fun."

I saw that she'd retrieved a book called Movies.

Me: "Looks like a find,"

Her: "I actually work in film. Rather, I used to."

Me:  "Not anymore?"

Her: "COVID. You wouldn't believe all the layoffs."

Me "What  was your job?"

Her: "I was an A.D. Ever hear of Handmaid's Tale? I worked on that"

Me: "You're not going to believe this but I worked on Handmaid's Tale, too. The guy who used to live next door was in the picture-car business. I had my big truck-licence so he got me work driving in the movies. And I did Handmaid's Tale."

Me, to the guy: "And you?"

Him: "Visiting, from Kuwait."

Me: "Kuwait? I've never meet anybody from Kuwait before. How cool is that?"

Her: "I'm from Iraq." 

Me: "Iraq! Look at you two! Iraq and Kuwait! Right here in front of my house in Toronto!"

Me, off on a rant: "Oh man. This is wonderful. My ancestors came here, oh, I don't know, six or five generations ago from Ireland and Scotland or England or some place and when I meet people like from Iraq and you from Kuwait, well, I have to tell you, I feel, like my heart is filled with."--and as I was thinking of the right words with which to complete my sentence, the sun emerged from behind a cloud--"warmth."

Him, as if rehearsed: "You two really did work in show business, didn't you? That timing was perfect. The sun shone at precisely the right moment. "

"You have no idea," I said "how much planning that involved. And it cost me a hell of a lot of money."

Him: "I bet."

Did I mention they both spoke perfect English?  

I love it. 

In case you're wondering, the moment the two young people left I  stopped gardening, came into the house and wrote down what happened. 

This keyboard has soil on it. The weeds can wait.


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Lines and tires and bears, oh my!

For the past few days--because my good friend and the editor of Outdoor Canada magazine Patrick Walsh asked me to--I've spent maybe a dozen hours basking in 20 of the liveliest and best-written hunting and fishing magazine stories that I have ever read. I am proudly judging them for the 2022 Outdoor Writers of Canada National Communications Awards. 

you suspect I might have gone to all the trouble of
writing a blog, finding art and composing clever captions
for the sole purpose of publishing this photo, you might be right.
One after another, these magazine features took me for bumpy rides in pick-up trucks, ATVs, outboard motor boats, a kayak, and at one point, aboard a Triumph motorbike piloted by a woman writer looking for bear. 

I've read about moose hunting, clever wild turkeys, Rockie Mountain longhorn rams, coyotes, and teaching kids how to fly fish. We're talking crossbows,  lures, and apps that diarize every moment of your fishing trip. These clear-eyed wordsmiths compare hunting equipment, camo clothes, and even what sort of stuff you might find hidden in any avid fishing nut's (many of which I count as friends or am related to even) trunk. The length and expense to which some folks will go to hunt and fish will astound you. Or not.

Fact is, I think the stories are all fabulous. 

So I figured I'd throw my own into the mix. 

Here goes.

I shot a deer once.

Yup. I've never owned a gun or a hunting licence but I shot a deer.

On the way to a folk festival. (I was the one headed to the festival. I've no idea where the deer was going.)

ALLURING COUPLE: Me (on right) and Dave Schinbeckler,
 after one of my few successful fishing trips
It happened  three and change decades ago, on a sunny mid-summer afternoon, on the Trans Canada highway about 30 klicks west of my hometown of Sudbury. Helena, who is now my wife, and I were  headed, in her little bronze-coloured Mazda GLC with a sunroof, to Manitoulin Island.

I forget exactly what led up to the following, but at one point, the rear tires of the tractor trailer in front of us came in contact with a deer. At highway speed, the truck driver probably didn't feel, hear, see or know anything even happened. 

But we sure did. And we watched the poor creature, badly injured, barely make it to the ditch on the north side of the highway.

We pulled over. We had to do something but weren't sure what.

We got back into the Mazda, drove to the nearest house about a kilometre up the road, knocked and told the woman who answered that we wanted to call the Ministry of Natural Resources for help. (Cellphones weren't a thing yet.)

She was gracious but quick to tell us she was on her way to work. Turns out she was a nurse about to  leave for a shift at a Sudbury hospital.

I called the MNR and the ministry guy said their officers wouldn't be able to get to the deer for at least three hours and all they'd do anyway was put the poor deer out of its misery. 

"Could you," he asked, "get a gun and do it for us?" 

I shared that with Helena and the homeowner, and the latter of the two said, "I got a .22 you could use."   

I told the ministry guy I didn't have a licence. He said it didn't matter.  

The firearm-lending RN had to get going. 

She suggested I not only borrow her rifle but also, she had a 14-year-old son who was home and had  nothing better to do. She was leaving for work in a small car but she also owned a pick-up truck. 

She thought the best plan was that Helena and I take her gun, her truck, her pick-up, her son and a big cardboard box back to the scene of the accident. After I helped the deer along its way, we could bring the carcass back to the farmhouse.

She left for work, and  a trio of armed amateurs set out on a mission of mercy. 

Her kid! Her truck! Her loaded rifle! I wouldn't have been surprised if she'd offered me a 26er of Jack Daniels. I must have the least menacing appearance of anybody on the planet. 

Three of my sisters and my mom all earned RNs. Sometimes I think it stands for Real Nuts. Or maybe Really Nice.

We did what we said we'd do; mom and kid got a freezer full of venison, and Helena and I continued on down the highway to the folk festival. 

Unless you were the deer, this story has a happy ending. 

All about neighbourliness, trust and honesty. Also, part of the reason the story ends happily is the very fact that it in fact ended. Coinciding with my hunting career.

Henceforth, for me, chasing animals in the forest would be relegated to the same arena where I vicariously participate in many activities (armed combat, contact sports, family court spring to mind), and that is arena is, stories written by other people. 

I'm glad they write them.

I wouldn't  have the guts.