Sunday, September 19, 2010

Groundhog, Anyone?

When our children were young we had the privilege of meeting and getting to know a wonderful young couple from Nigeria. David was here working towards completing his PhD and he and his wife, Eno, became very much a part of our family for the years they were in Canada. David, an avid sportsman, developed an interest in archery very early on in his stay. Living in an apartment made practicing difficult so visits to the farm became perfect opportunities to hone his skills. Of course, the boys were fascinated and never tired of watching, their fingers twitching in their eagerness to try it for themselves. They got their wish when David presented them with their own bows on Christmas Day. He had fashioned them from the materials at hand….good, pliable branches stripped of their bark and smoothed to a fine sheen, notched and strung with heavy twine. They could hardly wait to bundle up and head outside to test them.

David’s enthusiasm was hard to resist. Later that summer when we were all visiting Grandma and Grandpa Livingston’s farm in Markdale, he decided to go hunting with his bow. All three children clamored to go with him. I’ll never forget the sight of them out in the field the grain had come off of. David was on his hands and knees making a very careful approach to a groundhog they’d spotted sitting in the sun. It wouldn’t be easy to get close enough for a shot without the groundhog noticing him and scooting back into its hole. The rest of us watched as he patiently stalked his prey with three small children on their hands and knees strung out in single file behind him like ducklings of decreasing size, each one intent on mimicking his every move.

David got his groundhog in the end and he was eager to try cooking it over a slow fire in the yard once we got home. Hours later it was well and truly smoked but we had to finish it in the oven so it would be ready in time to include with the rest of our dinner. We had a couple of extra boys at the table that night but there was enough for everyone to have a taste. One of our young visitors announced with great dignity that he didn’t eat small rodents. The other was frankly horrified so we quickly assured them both that there were plenty of other choices and no one expected them to eat the groundhog. The rest of us were made of more adventurous stuff and we each took a portion. The first bite might have been tentative but it wasn’t long before we were all grinning at one another. It tasted like ham.

David and Eno had an impact on all our lives. Their endless patience, love, and Godly example as well as their willingness and even eagerness to try new things made them role models to our children that we treasured. They will never be forgotten. Our lives were richer and certainly more interesting for having shared those times with them.

Many years later our daughter, Lauren, was doing an ice-breaker activity in her Grade 12 environmental science class. Each student had to list four things they had done with only three of the four being true. Everyone else would then try to guess which of the things listed was false. Lauren’s list raised a few eyebrows. It included shooting a porcupine, riding an elephant, driving a dogsled, and eating a groundhog. Apparently that was a hard one to beat.

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