The fellow in the top picture is my friend Bob Pinard. We met just over thirty-three years ago when he and his family moved to the farm at Game Creek. It hardly seems possible that we've known each other for so long. I don't think we were so much friends on the farm, as aquaintences; we worked along side each other during various projects, but we never really knew each other all that well. Our friendship grew once we both moved to Hoonah. Our kids were practically interchangeable. Folks who didn't know us well often confused his kids for mine and vice-a versa. We've often hunted together, although Bob is much more of a hunter than I am.
Last Friday we took advantage of the clear weather and took the truck out to Freshwater Bay. I'd heard from some folks around town that some deer had been spotted out that way. We left the house early and drove slow, hoping we'd spot one or two hanging out in the muskegs that envelope the road on either side. When we'd gone quite a few miles without spotting anything, we decided to stop for coffee by one of the spur roads and then hunt that road. There was no sign of anything; not a track, dropping, rub- nothing. We stopped three times to get out and look around, but all to no avail. From the stand point of a successful hunt, it was a bust, but frankly, I can't remember having a better time out hunting. We were in no hurry. There was no feeling of panic that if we didn't shoot something we'd be unable to feed our family for the winter. We were just two friends out for a drive just enjoying each other's company. If a deer showed up, then great. If not, well that's the way it goes. Bob mentioned a few times that he thought the deer were hanging out up in the snow line, a long hard climb up difficult terrain, but we both acknowleged that they may as well be located on the moon. Time is catching up to us. It's hard to accept, but it's true. I think it's especially hard for Bob. He's always been tough as nails, determined,
disciplined, able to overcome obstacles. For those who still have the strength of their youth it's difficult to understand how someone they've always viewed as so strong can no longer do the things they used to. He mentioned that he'd watched TV the other night for several hours, but never finished a single show, he kept falling asleep in his chair. It happens. If it was just a matter of will power we'd climb those mountains or do the marathon hunting or fishing trips or keep building houses, but will power isn't enough. Our bodies wear out and there's a certain peace that comes in accepting it. That doesn't mean that we give up living. Just today Bob was finishing up putting a roof on a lady's trailer. He's seventy some years old climbing around on the roof. What's even more amazing is that he's not charging the gal for his work. She can't afford it, so he's helping her out of the goodness of his heart. That's the kind of guy he is.
For the past few years we've been getting together on Saturday nights to play rummy. He didn't have his hat on, and I noticed that when he bent over to look at his cards he had yet another cut on his somewhat balding head. It seems that he's always got one or two fresh marks where he's banged into something. When I mentioned it he said he might get a knee pad to stick up there for protection. Of course such a move would make communication difficult if he pulled the elastic down over his chin. I suggested to his wife, Gail, that perhaps she could get a magic marker and connect all the scars on his head. Maybe it would serve as a model for a map to find Blackbeard's treasure. Who know's. Fortunately he's a good sport and we can all laugh together. The bottom line is, when it comes to friends, I sure know how to pick them.