"Sure, honey" was my reply, and we scoured the house trying to find the bottoms to her pink plastic rain gear. Like most late September days in Oregon, it was spitting rain. That glorious, end of summer, get the animals moving, kind of rain. The rain that signals it's time to go grouse hunting, and today I was going to have the perfect partner.
One of the things I always make a point of doing on any Father-Daughter outing, is getting a special treat. We always stop off at the store, and I let her pick any candy bar she'd like to have. Just to make things a bit more special. I also try to treat her as an equal (within the bounds of her personal safety) and give her special responsibilities that she'd not get at home. So after we loaded up with treats, it was off to the grouse woods.
Our grouse woods in western Oregon can be a bit intimidating, especially to a child. They are very dense. Thick. The type of place where monsters, bears, lions, wolves, sasquatches, or boogey men could dwell. So, after parking at a gate on a closed logging road, I slipped a pair of shells in the double barrel, gave Margo a reminder on safety around guns, and we were off into the forest. As we walked on the two track road, she took the right track, and I took the left. She knows not to ever get in front of me or the gun. She also knows that the gun is not to ever be pointed at anything we don't intend to shoot. I keep pounding this into her head anytime we are around a BB gun, a fake plastic toy gun or the real deal. She marches through the woods with a confidence I never had at her age, and to say I'm proud would be an understatement. Boogey men are not on our minds.
One of our favorite games to play as we walk the logging roads is "what kind of poop is that?" For a five year old, my daughter is pretty good at it. She can usually determine the difference between deer and elk poop. As we strolled down the road, I pointed at a scat and asked my daughter "what kind of poop is that?" . She replied, "Elk daddy'.
"Are you sure?"
"Deer, daddy?" She asked, puzzled.
"Look at the shape, Margo. That's not the shape of deer or elk poop, honey. It's got hair and bones in it too."
"Yup, that's coyote, Margo."
"Can that coyote spell, daddy?"
"what?" I ask, now the puzzled one.
"That coyote can spell, daddy. He even knew I was coming here"
"huh?" Now I'm totally mystified.
She points at the turd, exclaiming "Look daddy, it's in the shape of an "M" just like I spell my name"
Well, I'll be damned. It was a perfectly shaped M. That coyote, in a bowl induced miracle, wrote a perfect M with his poop. Only a child would notice. I wonder how many other piles of perfect fecal phonics I've strolled right past, in my hurried hunting pursuits, and never noticed. Maybe the coyotes knew I was coming, and left me an "A". I'll never know.......