I still retain the weariness of my movements as I ambled the house well before sunrise - my gear and firearms packed and stacked and my impatience and the feel of loneliness the house gave with her out of state. I remember thinking, loose ends. Tie the loose ends. Don't forget a towel for the sweat.
I had agreed to meet Senior at noon to help him mow the range, and now I remembered I'd had second thoughts to have set my departure so late in the morning. My skin crawled with the weariness of the wait. So I sat and once again penciled a list of items and chores. I remember it didn't help.
Then into the garage and to one of my work benches where I keep my gun gear and cleaning supplies and before long I've swiped several barrels and don't remember any of the process other than the wonderful scent of Hoppe's Number Nine, still my old standard.
I knew it was far too early to head out, still, I was bored to tears. To kill time I topped off my trucks tank with expensive gas. Afterwards, I checked my watch for what seemed like the hundredth time then said, 'the hell with it,' and hit the road.
I remembered to keep my speed set to easy as the truck moved over the bridge and through the mist of massed humanity. Then out the other side and up onto the expressway and west. I remember thinking if a cop pulls me over he'll poop a brick when he takes a glance into the back seat. Several hundred rounds of ammunition and several cased rifles and shotguns tends to make the average policeman reach around and tug his panties.
The drive was peaceful and about forty-five minutes later I was off the interstate and the truck moved along a black road enclosed in green. I remember the water filled ditches and the snow white egrets and the contrast of colors each species of tree lent the other and I remember I lowered the windows and allowed fresh country air to fill the cab and I remember how much I truly missed the smell of fragrant summer grass and acorn mast.
I eased from the truck to test the wet ground and found it sufficient. It would carry the trucks weight. I drove slowly towards the range by easing between our Boar's Nest and the tack room. I parked close alongside the range shelter.
As I removed and placed my gear I remembered how we'd gathered last year to rebuild the shed after the one hundred year flood; how the ten feet of tannin stained water had moved over the land and tried its best to wipe clean the structure of the land.
I smiled at the memory of how we'd gathered and, without so much as a word, began to rebuild. I remember Duke dressed in his overalls and how he strained under the weight of two hundred pound crossties, and ShooterSteve's motor-mouth. I remember how PirateJim, our group medic, hovered, worried about injuries. Like a flash I remember Senior and his four wheeler as he buzzed about to move timbers and the quiet intense Gary as he studied solutions to difficult problems. I remembered it had been a fine day and now I once again stood beneath the result of our hard efforts.
I remember it wasn't long after when I was greeted by the sound of Gary's Jeep. He backed in and jumped out and I remember how much I'd missed his warm smile. I remember how he held my Colt Commander as we tried to sort a continued minor malfunction in its operation. I remember thinking the Colt should be dressed in a new set of elkhorn grips.
I remember how Duke revealed his answer to the gun weenie problem, his newly painted orange flash suppressor. I remember we all agreed he'd found the answer to the left's fear of firearms - bright colors dispel fear.
Glock Mom, seated to the left of my father, as they chatted while she kept a close watch over her two little boys.
Hours later I remember the sound of thunder and how the wind finally freshened and to the south of us the black clouds rolled and boiled and gave threat of rain. Senior and his family hugged and shook hands and then were gone. I remember thinking he and his family, those two little boys and their little rifles, are the future of this nation.
And I remember this picture.
And, I remember it was good - this freedom, yet.