When we ring in the new year we often make resolutions. Well my resolution this year is less screen time and more sun and wind on my face. We are located in upstate New York, and getting outside at this time of year can be a breath taking experience and a quick cure to “cabin fever”. It can also be cold, wet and windy. The draw of the warm fire and unlimited access to movies or t.v. shows is very strong. You almost feel like you have earned this down time after all the hard work you have put in over the year. But there is something about a whole day inside that makes me feel like I wasted some of my time on earth. With warmer than average temperatures derailing our ice fishing, and our wallet’s hangover from Christmas, our options seemed limited. Then my son had an epiphany, “lets go small game hunting” he said. It had been years since we had gone this time of the year. We used to have rabbits in abundance to hunt, but predators have wiped them out, which is what got us into trapping, but that is a story for another day. In our area, there is plenty of State land. During deer season it is very crowded by hunters, but this time of year it is almost deserted. While small game hunting or hiking during the late season, you will have the woods all to your self. With shotguns in hand, we quietly walk through the forest on wet leaves.
There is something about walking through the woods that makes you feel at home. Moving over ridges and through deep bowls we are treated to not only beautiful scenery, but great exercise as well.
What we didn’t know was that our hunting trip would turn from seeking squirrels and grouse to old bottles and rusty metal. The woods in our area were mostly fields or pasture at one time or another. After trees were cut for use in the old acid factories, dairy farmers turned the land into pasture.
It is common to find long stone walls in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes you will come across a row of huge maples that grew on the edge of a field or maybe even an old orchard. On this particular trip, we began to stumble across old car parts and bottles. They were so much fun to discover that we kind of forgot we were grouse hunting. My son came across an old fender first.
It was like rusty gold, and later we researched and found that it belonged to an old pickup truck. Maybe the farmer used it to move hay or milk cans. It was fun to imagine that truck bouncing around the farm. Then as luck would have it I found a fender.
I have no idea what vehicle this came from, but from it’s shape we could tell it was very old. Sometimes we forget that people have lived here a long time. Imagine all the dirt roads this fender had seen. We kept going along the side of the hill and something shiny was sticking out of the ground.
It tuned out to be a hubcap from a 30’s Ford, I bet it had a flat head 8 in it. If you have never seen one you should. Instead of all the plastic and wires of today’s engines, they just look like the machine that they were. As we headed back to the truck, we came across our last find of the day.
It was a beautiful old Coca-Cola bottle. As we turned it over, we saw that the bottom was marked Binghamton, NY, which is not far from here. We could not find a good way to date it, but it will go into our collection of old bottles. I am always amazed how glass can make it through so many years without being broken. As we arrived back at the truck and unloaded our guns, we spoke of the many things we had seen that day. Our legs were tired and our bellies empty, but the sense of fulfillment was worth it. That feeling is something that can’t be reproduced by any screen. There is nothing better than sitting down at the end of the day with tired muscles and a memories that will last almost as long as the rusty metal that we encountered.