The Scent of the Mountain Pine

When souls walk in a sunset, they walk in a slow reflection; when souls walk in a sunrise, the walk in brisk anticipation.  I suppose it is the psychology that comes with being creatures of the day.  We sleep through the darkness, hiding from what prowls unseen, out there in the mystery of the night.  Yet when the light comes upon us, it is our time to come out of hiding, setting out to discover what the daytime has revealed.  And when the daylight comes in the wintry cold, we set a lively pace.  It is our way.

Even Blue-Eyes was walking in a different way.  Where in the night he stuck close to our sides, his head lifted high, his eyes patrolling the darkness, but now in the morning light, he was scouting far and wide, back and forth, his nose was to the ground, out on his own explorations. Blue-Eyes had shifted into hunting mode.  And then I thought of the wolves who had been hunting in the cover of night.  Had Blue-Eyes come that far in his evolutionary jourrney, had we domesticated this creature of the Night to join us as creatures of the Day?  In a way, he did seem more a part of our human world than that world of the wolves we had traveled through in those midnight, moonlit miles.

We soon could smell the smoke of oakwood fires, that savory seasoning in the air that seems to make all things mellow.  Up ahead, we could begin to hear the burly voices of the lumberjacks who would hunker down here through the days of heavy snow.  They called it the Lumberman's Camp, a gathering of  half-wall tents, ten to fifteen of them, scattered around a sizeable, log cabin, large enough I suppose to be called a lodge.  Here in this tin roof cabin with three stovepipe chimneys showing, the men would cook and eat their meals, create and tell their tall tales, drink their ale and whiskey, and try to remember how they ended up here in this way of life.

When we arrived, Granddad hailed to two men sitting on the cabin's porch.  They waved back, finished their last few words, then stood to welcome us.  One fellow must have been six foot three or four, powerfully tall and powerully built, a black watch cap, and a deep brown and black checked woollen coat that went down to his knees.  He was clean-shaven except the one day's stubble still waiting for the razor.  The other fellow was not nearly as tall, well below six-foot, his thick grey uncovered, clothed with buckskin leather, both coat and trousers, fringed with leather strips and marked with Indian beadwork on the shoulders, down the side and in a V across his chest.  Where the other fellow had big black buttons, this fellow had leather knots. 

They both shook my Grandfather's hand with a good-natured greeting, and while the shorter man knelt down to greet Blue-Eyes, the taller fellow felt the need to mess my hair.  With a thick French-Canadian accent he bellowed, "LeBlanc's the name and you, boy, go by?"

"They call me Sandy."

"Well then Sandy, welcome to our place.  You hungry?"

I nodded.

I had overheard the other man introduce himself as "Red Macintyre," and by the burr in his voice, surely a first generation Scotsman.

As we stepped across the wood floor of the porch, stomping the snow off our boots, Blue-Eyes trailed behind.  Grandad gave the dog a look to have him set and wait outside, but then our hosts reassured us that the dog was welcomed too.  When they pulled open the two woods doors, it was the smell of bacon in a full-blown smoky sizzle that first hit us, but as our hosts began to pull of their heavy coats and pile them in my arms, I could smell the scent of mountain pine, the mountain pine that grows only in the rugged northern slopes.  I had been there once, lost, alone and crying.  My father found me there before he died.

We were greeted by maybe twenty lumbermen and also by four dogs, three Huskies and some sort of Shepherd-Wolf cross with a gash across his face.  Those dogs came a sniffed a bit at Blue-Eyes, I feared a fight but there was none.  They bristled the fur on their back for a testing bit of time, but then returned to their waiting places near the tables, waiting for that spare scrap of breakfast to fall their way. 

We were walked to a table right net to the cook's fire, a double wide fireplace fitted out with great swinging hooks and cast iron pots.  There in the toasted air by that fire, we ate and we melted and we talked.  Granddad shared tobacco with LeBlanc and Blue-Eyes slowly made some friends.  I for the most part listened, taking in all the stories of what young boys often dream that they might do, when ever they became those creatures known as full-grown men.

The End

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