The woodsman stepped carefully among the debris in the forest floor although it was unlikely that there would be any game out on a day such as this. The wind was biting bitter cold, the sky a heavy dark gray spitting bits of sleet and snow now and again. Dim and dusky for as early in the afternoon as it was. The bright green hedge apples stood out among shades of browns and grays of the late fall woods. He scanned the woods mainly out of habit but a squirrel or two braving the cold would welcome addition to the game bag. Or even some shed antlers for one of the many craft projects he had going on.
The woodsman was dressed warm but not warm enough. He kept moving. Old well-worn boots, wool socks, wool long underwear he had from the Army. Dirty worn jeans, heavy belt, flannel shirt. The blanket lined prison issue denim coat had been given to him by a friend who had done a little time. The rough green fedora and cast-off Army wool scarf kept his head and face warm along with long hair and scraggly beard. A leather possibles bag hung on his right side with a powder horn and used a nice walking stick in his right hand. A small sharp sheath knife was on his left hip.
He carried a long, thin but heavy 32 caliber squirrel rifle in his left arm, its great length making passage through the some of the thick tangles of brush a challenge at times. The ramrod extending about six inches in front of the barrel, easily snagging the vines. The long rifle had been built by a friend. Stock burnt black just below the flashpan of the flintlock. Well used, but clean, well oiled and maintained. He could smell the gun oil on the barrel and lock. The linseed oil on the rich walnut stock. These aromas mixed with the decay of the forest floor and warmed the woodsman’s heart. Helping to take his mind off of troubled and lean times.
He continued across a draw, up to a fenceline that would lead out into the stubble of the plowed and harvested fields. He walked up the fence as thick timber and brush narrowed to the open fields, staying in the heavy cover as much as possible. Surveying the raw, open fields. The woodsman had seen much sign of deer and other game, but like himself they were staying in the shelter of the heavy brush and bare trees.
It was getting much colder, the sharp wind brutal and biting. The sky was turning darker, snowing harder. The wind was picking up, the bits of ice stinging his face. He wanted to stay longer, allowing the increasingly cold winds to further purify his soul, but was afraid that a longer stay might turn in to a very much longer stay and he wasn’t equipped for that.
He headed back into the woods, back to where the old Ford truck was, hoped it would start and make it up the narrow trail to the road home. The wood stove and a hot meal awaited, along with the missus and kids, but he would soon miss the moaning bitterly cold winds. Song of the heavy timber….