Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Old Milwaukee and BB Guns

Excitement built up in my chest like a geyser eruption, planting a perma-grin on my face as I pulled up the driveway in my flashy chrisom red rental car.  The screen door burst open with a painful screech and I instantly recognized the genuine smile I had known all my life.  His eyes sparkled when he looked at me. 

Before my dad could even take a step forward, Hersh, the old brown Chesapeake retriever, dashed towards me in chunky leaps and bounds.  My muscles tensed and I braced myself against the car and tried to shield my yellow sundress against the inevitable.  Her tongue hung lazily out of her mouth and a trail of saliva slithered off slowly and flung free in the air as she ran.  She was dirty, smelled of swamp, and her heart was full as she nearly trampled me to the ground.

“Hersh!  Down!” My dad politely disciplined her, halfheartedly, attempting to cover his amusement.  I knew how his mind worked.  A little dirt was good for me.  It reminded me of who I was.

The heels from my strappy sandals sunk down into gravel of the driveway.  I knew it was a dumb idea to wear them up north, but I couldn’t resist.  They just matched too perfectly-  an irrelevant concept on the farm.  My dad would tell me the dogs and horses don’t care if you match or not as he wore his thin gray t-shirt that was about as weathered as his rosy cheekbones.

Dad worked from sunrise to sunset everyday.  We, his children all had a list of chores that had to be done every night when we got home from school before we were allowed to do anything else.  One of my daily chores was to carry in a wheelbarrow full of firewood every night to the basement.  It was always expected and dad wasn't any easier on his three girls than he would have if he had boys. As his age began to catch up with him, I speculated his bones were probably weaker than mine, yet he now insisted on carrying in my belongings.    For some reason, my dad now felt it was his duty to make things easier for me now that I was older.  I couldn’t help but think how backwards this seemed.

He rested my bags at the door and like a small child, he could not wait to show me all his new toys. 

First it was a loop around the house on the three-wheeler so I could check out how good she was running.  He pointed out some of the work that had been done on the dock after a storm had blown through and ripped a few pieces off.

Then we went out to the back deck where I was handed an Old Milwaukee in a can and some smoked fish as we talked about how he had net the fish under the ice the past winter.  I knew Dad would think I was being ridiculous if I asked for a glass to pour the beer in.  So I drank it out of the can- like I used to.  I wondered at what point did I become so girly?  Had I always been?

Finally the afternoon was topped off as my dad handed me the BB gun he kept around the corner- loaded and close enough to reach to ward off any varmints that got to close to the house.  We were taught from the age we began crawling to respect guns- and not to touch them unsupervised.  So it was not strange to me that he left them around the house in various corners.

Then, as the breeze brushed the fresh smell of the northern waters past my nose, I clenched the BB gun and tucked it neatly into my shoulder.  It was somewhere in that moment as I squinted my eye through the sight and shot off the deck at a pop can in the backyard, a wave of comfort swept over me.  I fired a shot, snapping the can into the air.  The loons called back from the lake, complaining of the gunshot noise.  I had forgotten how amazing it felt to shoot- even if it was a little BB gun.  I knew we'd get to the 'bigger stuff' later.  It was required.  I surveyed the scene, smiling, and taking it all in.

I knew I was home.  


  1. Great description! I could see it all clearly. Wonderful job!

  2. Thank you and thanks for reading!