So the sight of the Dall sheep on the mountain last weekend reminded me of the hunting trips I used to take with my Dad, and I can’t tell about any of them without sharing this still-disputed story about the Cream of Wheat incident. And by the way, Dad, I’m telling MY version…
Hunting in the Talkeetna mountains is hard work by anyone’s standards. The terrain is steep and covered in thick brush. Where it levels out it’s usually boggy…and covered in thick brush. When you break out of the brush, it’s often because you are blocked by massive rocks and unstable shale slopes, so you carefully angle your way back to the thick brush!
We are fortunate that the Cabin property backs up to lots of empty land, albeit mostly vertical land, where hunting is easily accessible. (We are even more fortunate that our acreage combined with that belonging to the gated camp provides a bit of a buffer zone between us and the guns!)
Dad and I started hunting together when I was old enough to follow him around with my little hand-carved bow that he made for me. He never actually killed anything when I was along, but it probably had more to do with having his chatterbox daughter tromping alongside of him scaring off the game than any squeamishness! I did get to help skinning rabbits that he got when he hunted by himself.
This trip was primarily a sheep trip as I recall, so we were way back in the back country of the Talkeetna Range. The hiking was rough going in places and we walked for days it seemed just to get back to where we started hoping to see game. Although I carried a pack with my own sleeping bag and some of the other items, Dad carried the majority of the food and supplies.
We always had to be conscious that we were in bear country, so food handling had strict rules that had to be followed. One morning, far into the back country, Dad made us a breakfast of Cream of Wheat. Somehow he didn’t get the memo that I don’t like Cream of Wheat.
No, wait, back-up…I actually loathe Cream of Wheat. So much so that I wouldn’t eat it.
Dad was – understandably – pretty angry with me since he’d hauled it on his back for miles and couldn’t just produce another breakfast to sustain me for the day’s hike, but … and here’s where our stories diverge … I swear he told me that if I wasn’t going to eat it, I had to go away from our campsite and bury it as deep as I could. That’s my version, and that’s what I did.
His story is that he didn’t tell me any such thing. He says he caught me sneaking away to bury my Cream of Wheat and then got angry…and stayed irritated all day…and for years to come. I’m pretty sure it was the first thing he told Mom when we got back to the Cabin. Not a report on whether we saw or shot any sheep, not a description of the beautiful country we saw…the stand-out moment of the trip for him was “catching” me burying the Cream of Wheat.
This all happened nearly 40 years ago, and to this day the merest mention of Cream of Wheat…or oatmeal…or even breakfast, can make Mom break out in laughter and Dad scowl and shake his head. Then the hapless person who brought it up has to listen to the whole story. Both stories actually.
And mine. (the truth, I swear!)