Mom and Dad said grandpa's ways were more like the pleasant scent of coffee. Or licorice chews in the evening. When dressed up neat he was best in his outdoor clothes as if animals in the forest deserved his best intentions and needed to be impressed.
Then he fished or simply went for a walk in the woods. He was a treat to see. A friend to the forest my grandpa was.
He's not with us anymore but I know he's hiding somewhere special. Mom and Dad said he was such a friend, missed by all the animals, deer his favorite.
Birds liked him too following him through ancient trails he always seemed to find (Mom and Dad told me) and trees that grew taller than the sky. Where lakes sheltered beneath forgotten stands of coniferous trees, where at the end of the trail his boots placed each step carefully not to disturb the wind, nor deer hooves.
He paused long enough to listen for any disturbing sounds and only moving on after a comforting peace came upon him. He loved being in the forest, Mom and Dad said.
Everything in his sight became part of his family same as his wife and children who had lots to eat and a nice place to live in. They traveled often to Cape Breton Island then Montreal, sledding and tobogganing and snow shoeing and kite flying and lots of other things, even sail-boating at Baddeck.
But, most of all, he talked about one day having a grandchild. I know it was me and even though he did not get to see me when I was a baby I grew up listening to stories from my Dad about grandpa who spent so much time fishing and hiking in the woods. His own father my great grandpa said he might grow up into a tree and Mom told me he liked Birch best so shiny in the sun with a white cloak of skin flapping in the wind.
Whenever I see one of those Birch trees I think of grandpa and him flapping bark waves at me.
When I walk in the woods especially in Autumn time it becomes a special place for me because I know his spirit has gone before me like today. When I listen to the wind I'm sure it's his voice in the crackling of leaves or even his footsteps one two three steps.
And the smell of spruce trees maybe like his shaving lotion as I sit and remember the way he looks from pictures of him and Mom and Dad on my dresser. It was a day of days Mom said when they sat in a rowboat many years ago and just maybe he even sat on the same fallen log I'm on right now watching two squirrels play tag in the sunlight.
I lean against a tree and hear what he must have heard one day long ago. Once more I listen to the wind and smell the moss at my feet while waves splash loudly against the shore. YES-YES I'm sure that's him peeking from behind that birch tree not so far away.
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Richard L. Provencher 2007
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