Dear Grandchildren (15)

Today started out with rain, then pink highlighted clouds at dawn.

I had read that the Robin’s are migrating, now. There are quite a few coming through now singing their final songs of this year, resting up for the long journey southbound.

I had told Rick a couple weeks ago, if anyone at work has apples to give away, please bring them home. Coincidentally, as we were last out fishing together, a lady in one of the small towns had a sign out for “Free Apples.” She encouraged us to take both bags and a box, telling us to stop by again if we would like more.

Some of my earliest memories are making pies with my mom. I had a small rolling pin and pie pan. She had a bigger rolling pin, and several pie pans, which I now cherish.

GrgrmaViv made the best apple, cherry with a woven, lattice top crust, rhubarb custard meringue, and lemon meringue, and pumpkin spice pies. Her whipping cream was always from real cream, vanilla, and sugar.

I make alot of apple pies and apple crisp. I cheat sometimes, though, for my pies with pre-rolled pie crusts. I currently have two apple pies baking in the oven. I add a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar on top of the upper crust.

I love to bake on my more ambitious days. I do like preparing meals, too, when time allows. I am a good cook, seasoning and timing the meals, ingredients, sides, and the main course come pretty natural and basic to me. I think that was passed down to me from my Grandmothers, Aunts and my Mom, plus, of course, my Wisconsin friend from long ago, Mary.

Since Covid-19 and the quarantine, I haven’t enjoyed shopping as much. Even now as I’m immunized, I rush in and out of the stores, and linger much less. Perhaps, I’ll change once things settle down more, yet, I’m not in any hurry.

One really good standby recipe book is “Betty Crocker.” There are so many tutorial videos, and online recipes, nowadays, including “Betty Crocker,” so anyone can learn to cook.

Time to check on my pies, so “¡hasta mañana!”



Dear Grandchildren (14)

Dear Grandchildren,

It is a beautiful day. There are whisps of clouds like thin, cotton battting against a pale “baby blue” sky. The branches and leaves are flowing in the random gusts of soft wind. The birds are happy.

Sometimes, I wonder how any of us can be sad on such a beautiful day? Then, I think about the loss we’ve shared this past year and I start missing my son and my mom all over, again.

Looking up

Then, my thoughts reach out, drift, and I think, “I hope wherever their spirits are, that they are enjoying the beauty of this world, and, can hear our thoughts.”

Both of them were such a big part of my life. How can I or any of us move forward?

The generation before me has almost passed on. My generation is next. Losing a son or a brother went against the natural, expected order of things. My grandfather lost two sisters close to him in their teenage years. My grandmother lost a sister. Sometimes, tragedy happens. “Resiliency” is a way we can become strong, and bounce back from loss and hardship. I’m 65 now, and life happenings affect me differently than they did at other ages. I can recall how, at different ages, I would react. We all have different ways to cope. Finding each of our own ways is the challenge.

You, my dear Grandchildren, will lose friends and family, suddenly, or with a lingering illness like Alzheimer’s and Dementia where the loss is taken over time. Please, cherish those times!

Make new happy times! It is my hope that each of you can reach out to eachother, young and old, and take the time to make and build new memories together.



Dear Grandchildren (13)

Dear Grandchildren,

I’m looking at the world today in which you are growing up in compared to when I was your ages.

I was born in a small town hospital in Fergus Falls, MN. For each birth, my mom was sedated. My first photo shows me at 45 minutes old. My parents made postcards for my birth announcement and mailed them out with 3cent stamps.

We rented part of a historical house until we moved into 1016 North Vine. At one time, the historical house was moved to Battle Lake, MN, then relocated back in Fergus.

Our new house had a sand hill behind our yard where my brothers and their friends played western adventures or war.

There was a small grocery store a short walk away on the way to the nearest school. I picked out a little doll there once, which I had kept most of my life. Sometimes, my mom surprised me with doll clothes she sewed during my naps.

When we moved to Fargo, my mom really wanted us to stay in Fergus. She liked the smaller community and had many friends. Of course, we kept in touch, plus, my mom was quick to make new friends in our new neighborhood. I was partway through kindergarten when we moved. I stayed home awhile until Mom felt I was ready to go to my new school.

I had curly strawberry blonde hair all the way down my back. Ponytails were in style. My teacher told my mom that my long hair was a “distraction” to the boys in her class. She asked my mom to get my hair cut. I became very shy and thought my short pixie cut was ugly. My mom placed my ponytail in a white paper bag, and wrote,”Val’s ponytail” on it. I still have the ponytail. Nowadays, children have more rights and their feelings are respected.

All girls wore dresses to school as part of a dress code. On cold winter days, we wore slacks under our dresses on our way to school. We had to keep the slacks in our lockers all day until we were getting ready to go home.

My mom started working when I was 7 or 8. She had been a fry cook on weekends at the A&W in Fergus. Her first Fargo job was as a dishwasher for “Brownie Bakery” at a small strip mall on South University. From there she applied at the Veterans Administration hospital where she worked until retirement. She started in the kitchen at the VA, then, she worked as a secretary or “Administrative Assistant.”

She learned to type x-ray reports listening to dicto-tapes with a headset. She learned computers on the job as they evolved into the worksites.

The first calculators were available when I started high school. The first computers at high school and early college in the 1970’s took up an entire room.

My mom had some of the first “apple” desktop computers on her job. I really did not learn computers until the late 1990’s. In college, my mom helped type my reports with a manual typewriter. She could type 50-70 words per minute and near perfect accuracy. I owned one of the first wordprocessors. It was in Grand Forks for repairs and maintenance when the major floods and fires hit there. My word processor was one of the minor casualties of that city’s disaster.

I still own my first laptop PC. It is a Toshiba, and it originally cost over $800. It runs really slow by today’s standards, and its programs are very outdated, but, it did help me in part in grad school in the 2010’s.

I can hardly believe how we ever went without today’s communication technology. I loved my yellow kitchen phone in my home by Lindenwood Park. It had a blackboard which could be reversed into a cork memo board. It had a pocket or hidden shelf for the phonebook, and it had a really long cord so I could sit anywhere. If the kids were active when I was talking, they tried to have me swing the cord like a jump rope or they’d walk under it like “limbo.” The receiver had push buttons, some earlier ones had dials. Most of my friend’s and family memorized our numbers. There was not always ” programmed numbers” or “redial.”

Answering machines, when we first used them, had cassette tapes…then, they went digital. We had to have those to screen calls and to catch missed calls when we were not home or inside.

*79 was a special feature which dialed or recalled “hang up” calls. I kept getting hang up calls, which really was bothersome and frustrating! I was told about this feature once so I used it. My former mother-in-law was on the line. She said it must have been someone else. Funny how after I explained the *79 feature on my phone to her, the hang-up calls discontinued. Anyways, “caller ID” was another useful feature that began, also, until people started to block or unpublish their numbers.

So technology is always evolving. This includes computers, video gaming, and entertainment. You, my grandchildren, have been born into all this! I hope you will still develop your skills in face-to-face two-way communication, “unplugged” and without distractions.



Our B&W Zenith television. Our first “color” TV was finally purchased when I was in college in the ’70’s.
Kindergarten Shadow, Val
By my 6th birthday, I had grown a small ponytail back.
Love A&W
Camping without technology
Grampa Rick & I
My favorite phone
Josh & GrgrmaViv, Retired
Becky, Jenna & I
MS Counseling 2011

Dear Grandchildren (12)

Dear Grandchildren,

Today…another Monday. The weather is beautiful, and the trees have golden autumn leaves glimmering in the sunshine.

Reggie enjoying the sunshine.

This past weekend I checked my passport, and realized that it is time to renew. I first received my passport in November of 2011. This was in anticipation of a trip to Australia. Nine years ago, in September of 2012, I returned from my first ever adventure off of the continent of North America.

I started this blog the spring before my planned trip. The blog introduced my penpal, Libby. Months later, I shared the whole experience of my journey overseas as each moment evolved. Since my trip, I’ve painted many pictures. Throughout my travels I wrote poetry. My photos are on discs, plus in two small albums which I had prepared for my mom. It is hard to believe it was nine years ago, the memories are still so vivid!

I hope you all have opportunities to experience other countries and cultures in the world. Norway is on my bucket list. If I don’t get there, I hope some of you will. You will really love the scenery of the homeland of my ancestors and yours.



My penpal’s family in front of “Red Sail” jet
Last shift on the job
Kyle & Grmaval celebrating!
Libby & me
Footprints in Geelong
Windy Coastline
Australian Rain Forest Painting
Liz & John walking towards cliff
they used to hang glide from
Unframed, same painting
Carousel in Geelong
Young man & his outrigger, Dili
Luci & her Mum, Dili
Dili Airport
Saying “Goodbye” in Dili

Dear Grandchildren (11)

Dear Grandchildren,

Today is Sunday. To many that means without question, “go to church!” That was what we did as I grew up. We walked a block and a half without fail. Mom in her spike heels stepping in the snow along the neighbor’s unshoveled sidewalk. She stepped in the dents my dad’s size 13 shoes impressed. His 6’1″ stride left gaps her 5’3″ stature had to compensate for.

Mom and I wore dresses, white gloves, and carried fancy purses most Sundays. I had to wear the most uncomfortable stretchy tights. To this day, I don’t like tights, nylons or pantihose.

Everyone dresses more casual than we did back then. There are still some dress-up occasions, such as proms, weddings, etc. Not as much, though in our regular lives. Even the workplace has evolved from “Casual Jean Friday” to casual everyday.

As a stay-at-home, retired “dog mom,” I’ve become about as casual as one can get. My attire has a seasonal change in how I layer my fluffy pajama pants and thicker plaid robe over cotton tops and thin spandex leggings. Cotton hoodies and sweatpants round off my wardrobe.  I mix and match leopard prints with Peanuts characters ice skating. “Comfort” is my goal!

I do like to dress-up for special times. I dressed up moreso as I’d assist Rick on photoshoots. Pre-quarentine, we went on several of these. My Facebook timeline showed us “dressed up” for a “date night!” That was 4 years ago, oh my! I had bought tickets for a band who had been impersonating “Abba” longer than the original Swedish band. Since then, with the success of musicals and movies like “Momma Mia” featuring Abba music, the real Abba group is back!

In the Fargo Theater

I mentioned how I liked to dance. Some music still gets me up and dancing. I’ll talk about that at a later time.

So, my Sundays usually mean enjoying God’s creation and the world around me. I might go for a nice walk, drive, or ride on my motorcycle. I might sit in a boat, or, if it’s winter, sit on a lake and icefish. It is nice living in a “judgement-free” zone. That is the life Grandpa Rick and I enjoy! Much happiness! Be you!

Me & my Gerber Baby doll
So dressed up!
Easter, photocolorized by Muriel
Cousin Donna & me
Cleanliness is…
Nephew Adam’s Baptism 1970’s
Nephew Adam’s Baptism 1970’s
Joining Trinity Church, Moorhead, MN, late 80’s
MGM Grand Vegas, 1990’s
Grmaval & Charlee, 2010
12/31/2011 with my “kids!”
New Year 2012
Cousin Orla & me, 2015
After weightloss, 2017
After weightloss, 2017
At a wedding shoot NYE 12/31/2017
Summer 2018



Dear Grandchildren (10)

Dear Grandchildren,

One thing I have learned, and I hope you do, too, is to express gratitude. Everything is so fast-paced with schedules, communication, and media. It is so easy to snap a selfie add a frame, emojies, and stickers, send it virtually & say, “I’m good!” A video is nice when distances make being together challenging.

It is also very meaningful to write a card of quick note or letter of appreciation and a “thank you” for the thoughtfulness, stick on a stamp, and “snail-mail” the note to the person who sent you a gift.

It isn’t the monetary value of the gift. It isn’t whether the gift was on your “wish-list.” It isn’t the color or the brand, store-bought or homemade.

The whole idea is that you were on the person’s mind, and, in their thoughts and their heart. That person stitched, crocheted, refinished, tie-dyed, woodburned, framed, repaired, sketched, painted, special ordered, printed, boxed, and mailed your gift. You and your gift to the sender are special, unique, and “one of a kind!”

When I was very young, the end of fourth grade, before the trip out West to see the ocean, I had to have an emergency tonsillectomy. My whole class at school sent a bundle of greeting cards. So appreciated and cherished! It wasn’t easy, not only the pain, but missing the fun end of school year’s activities. The cards really helped me through that. I read them many times over.

As I was leaving the hospital, a nurse asked me, “Do you want a puppy?” I thought, “You bet! So hospital’s give out ‘real’ puppies?” She returned with a hand-sewn oval-shaped pillow made out of brown, plaid corduroy. It had floppy corduroy ears and embroidered features and a red felt tongue. I was so disappointed, but, being “miss manners,” I gratefully accepted the “puppy.”

Later, as I recovered, I thought, “You know, someone sewed alot of these soft, animal pillows for all of these hospitalized children! How nice of them!” That was a comforting thought!

So take this to heart! Slow down, smell the roses, pay it forward and back… don’t forget the person who sent them! They might be sad or lonely, and you really could brighten their day!



A sketch of the “Puppy” from the hospital

Dear Grandchildren (9)

Dear Grandchildren,

I went for a drive to pay some bills.  As I was driving, waiting to turn, I noticed a person sitting on a stoop under an umbrella with his hands folded and his head bowed. A rain cloud was passing above. After dropping off one bill, heading towards downtown, I noticed a backpacker with a bedroll tied beneath his pack. On top, he had a large, floppy toy stuffed dog strapped down. The stories these people passing through could tell. These times have hit hard for so many. As autumn begins, we are reminded to prepare for the winter ahead. It is my hope that they find the shelter and comfort they need as they journey along their way.

My mom always said, “There by the Grace of God go I!” whenever she saw others facing tough challenges. She knew, she could, by grace or various circumstances, have easily been the person. She never wanted me to forget our common humanity.

Occasionally, I hand a meal and a beverage to a homeless person, or I give them socks or some other useful items. These random acts of kindness don’t cost me much, but it, in a small way, can help the person feel noticed and cared for.

I noticed and thought of you, today.



Huntergal Season One

The Wild Rice Tree Stand; Season Opener
Glancing through a network of leafless branches,
The steady stream of the gently, curving river is interrupted
by a young doe foraging through from one muddy shore to a safer more thicketed shore.
Her presence breaks the water into a v-shaped ripple.
Ever so gently she discovers a well-worn leaf-lined path through the woods.
She stops intently staring into the blaze orange huntergal’s scope,
then she turns away, fading, disappearing into the shelter of the trees and undergrowth.
She is small yet, plus the hunter only can seek a buck.
So she lives, yet another year, and another season.
The sun rises in early dawn, glistening on the river.
The squrrels scold the intruder in their trees. The birds whistle from up high.
The branches quiver in the breeze. Distant gunfire echoes out, as each of the other hunters hope to claim their deer.
The huntergal patiently awaits.

Brief Encounter
The squirrel approached with caution and fear,
The hunter winked back, as he was there for the deer.
With each chattering chirp, the squrrel’s tail, he would twitch,
Until a treasure-trunk of a tree full of corn for him to steal, was revealed,
“Don’t worry little furry friend. I promise not to snitch.”
After a while, he snuck closer to the hunter, his newly found friend,
He sat up on his hanches, and extended his front paws,
Revealing his treasure, a golden kernel,
Which he cracked gently with his tiny mouth, puffed-up cheeks, and his jaws.
As the hunter, for a momen, he paused,
Distracted by nature, forgetting the hunt, and his cause.
An entertaining brief encounter, but, none the less, when they parted, did their friendship thus end.

Wild Rice Tree Stand; Sunset
The huntergal arrives on the eve another day.
She climbs up into a camouflaged tower,
As she patiently waits, for nearly an hour.
Across the meadow, a young doe zig-zags.
Her antler-less head barely clears the height of the grass.
Between the farmer’s abandoned tractors and plows,
The opening shows the huntergal another view of the doe’s full form.
The doe’s uplifted ears and eyes search until she stares
Straight again into the scope of the huntergal in the still, quiet evening air.
Aware of the danger, she pivots one-eighty degrees,
Then leaps thrice-times, into the woods, with her white-tail fluttering, like a feather in the breeze.
The sun sets, blaze orange, like the huntergal’s attire, between the lengthening shadows of the trees.
Two shots echo out from the north near the treestand, the huntergal’s previous perch,
A text reveals that a two-prong antlered buck has gone down.
His life ended, as the sun set,
Across the rich, black-dirt, riverbed’s earthen ground.

Wild Rice Tree Stand; Closure
Again, I walked across the chunky, dirt field towards the tree,
Moses, the German Shepherd stayed back away from me.
Hooking my rifle to a cord, I ascended, then, after tethering my harness, I drew it up.
I engaged my gun, ammo ready, safety on,
Waiting, watching, for any kind of movement.
A small blue-winged bird hopped around, pecking at the trees on both sides of me,
Bobbing, like a drinking bird toy until he flew away.
A couple squirrels rustled the leaves,
The moon, nearly full, began to rise from the east,
The river glistened as I looked to the west, until the sun nearly set,
I almost descended, as dusk began,
The woods were still, so I glanced across the barren field.
Amazingly, along the treeline, a buck grazed,
Nearly eighty yards away, I peered through my scope,
Reassuring my gaze that he was indeed an antlered buck,
I shot and missed, he stood tall, and statue-still,
My second shot, I later learned, entered both shoulders,
The next shot hit his liver, as he lay on the ground,
I shot my final round, which missed,
As he kicked, then layed down.
I texted, then lowered my gun,
My ambiguious feelings of the hunt Intertwined,
In my mind.
A creature so beautiful, graceful and alive, one moment,
Then, due to my actions, he lay so still, without further movement.
His eyes, reflecting the setting sun,
Glared at me, sadly, as my mind fully registered what I had just done.

Local Florist’s Note
Wild Rice River
Blazing Sunset
Huntergal & first deer, 2016

Huntergal Season Five

1. Huntergal, Another Season Begins, 2020
By Valerie J Laidlaw
We arrived, geared up, ready, before the sun,
Like 2020, this November is an unusual one.
The temperatures reached an all-time high,
As much as I resisted hunting this year,
My husband wanted me out for the deer,
So, I finally decided to try.
I sat sheltered from the wind by our “car.”
With a tripod for my rifle, as I aimed carefully afield and afar.
Recently, the muscles in my legs had been knotting up sadder,
So, approaching the usual trudge across the deeply, plowed field, and the challenging climb up treestand ladder,
I kept insisting that these were issues that mattered.
So, his solution worked fine, and my resistance just splattered.

2. Huntergal, Day One, 2020
By Valerie J Laidlaw
Our usual hunting family had changed and evolved much this year,
Each of the two sisters have babies taking more presidence and priorities than deer.
Their brother, brought his son, in full, hunting attire,
Aptly named, yet, not revealed in this text, he took aim to fire,
At a buck, “right off the bat,” in the morning,
A large trophy, this buck, with eleven expansive points of horning,
Weighing over one hundred fifty pounds,
With its insides left behind, and cleared out on the ground.
We assisted them loading him up first through the woods on a sled,
Then, lifting him on a rack behind their truckbed.
We followed them to their farmhouse, to the garage, and its rafters,
As they hoisted the deer up with ropes, hooks, and a wench from their four-wheeler,
Weighing him, then hooking him up, horns down, prepped for cleaning him after,
We ate a brief lunch, returning to hunt a doe, which, a day and a half later, our fate would reveal her.

3. Huntergal, Still Day One, 2020
By Valerie J Laidlaw
Remembering Old Moses, a dog who joined us on hunts long ago,
I heard the barking of a new, black labrador lady, of whom I had still yet to know.
She barked, running coyly alongside of our car.
She peaked around cautiously, dodging my greeting, and running back to the farm.
In time, by the next day, she came around next to me,
Eventually, sniffing me up on my knee,
She even followed me as I hid in the woods behind a tree,
Privately, and quickly, as us “Huntergals,” also, have the necessity to pee.
Sitting again, I saw several deer eating corn husks through my scope,
Yet, the distance of such a shot was much more than any good hunter could hope.
As soon as the sun sets down in the west at the end of day one,
The each hunter must stop, and lay down his or her rifle or gun.

4. Huntergal, A Windy Day, 2020
By Valerie J Laidlaw
Our hunting friends lent me their tower,
Briefly, the sky emitted droplets in a shower.
I turned, walking quietly eastward,
Past an old cemetary, along the wooded shoreline,
Entering upon an open area of the curving prairie river,
A “thumb,” as opposed to our usual “finger”
We most frequently hunted within.
I spied a small fawn with just his ears and eyes focused on me,
Standing so statuesque and still,
He seemed more like a decoy ornamentally placed.
As I moved, he turned and pounced closer to the shore,
Standing again, sideways, I saw his full figure, a perfect shot,
So near, yet, I reminded myself, “He’s too young!”
His white tail waved “goodbye!” as he dove into the cover of tall brush and reeds,
My thoughts replied, “Nevermore!”

5. Huntergal, The Tower, Described, 2020
By Valerie J Laidlaw
Past a menagerie of machinery,
Replaced, retired, rusted, resting,
Becoming one with the land,
There’s an evolved “tower.”
It had started out as a base
Resting high up on stilts.
Partial walls were added,
Boxing in some shelter from the wind,
Providing a rifles resting place,
An added, wobbly, discarded desk chair,
Plus, an angled ladder which provided a stair.
In previous years, this was the ultimate stand,
Sitting there, this Huntergal felt so grand!
Surprizingly, a much-improved version has really, amazingly raised the bar!
A latched door, drop-down plexiglass windows on three sides,
Stapled mover’s quilts insulated the walls,
A ceiling, and a flap over the door all creating shelter from the wind,
Two sturdy chairs, a hunter’s dream tower had really become a reality by far!
With all this, I was so thankful to not just be sitting on a folding chair by our car.
Upon learning now, the permission has been withdrawn,
For future years, we will seek out our own new territory,
So, we will move onward, elsewhere to create our own new story,
Grateful for the experience, and a past of friendship and comradery,
What a year this has been, during this pandemic Covid-19 in 2020!

6. Huntergal, The Poetic Experience, 2020
By Valerie J Laidlaw
The weeds across the field bordering the riverbank trees,
Deceptively dance like puppetry, pulling the strings of little “fawns” upon the breeze.
Through my scope I peer closely, and not a deer do I clearly see.
As evening rolls in, the winds settle to random swirling gusts,
Which cause the trees to sway and crackle, bare branches against the trunks,
Mimicking pairs of phantom bucks as they lunge towards eachother, and “anger-drunk.”
A large, loud snap, and crackle sounds out behind me as an unseen tree falls splashing into the sparkling river behind me.
This November sees an unusual “Indian Summer” in Temps of 70 degrees.
I saw an eagle soar, bluejays flee, squirrels geese migrate, and squirrels scurrying up a tree,
Nature is an enchanting gift which surrounds me.
I did see a yearling with darker fur feeding on the last patch of green,
I had plenty of perfect shots, yet I chose to let him go,
To grow larger for yet another season, and in-between.
Fare Thee Well!

A Deer’s Perspective, 2020
By Valerie J Laidlaw

I’m speaking here, up in Deer Heaven.
Remember my guy with prongs eleven?
He was just minding his own business,
On a warm, Autumn day, and who’da’ guess,
In a blue moon,
That he’d be down so soon,
At sun up, way before noon?
It’s not like the old days,
Where you hunters climb up in a tree,
Waiting, watching, listening for me.
You’ve got cameras, everywhere I turn,
And, some crazy, humming “drone” thing flying, and spying,
All night, and before daylight begins to burn.
We have no privacy!
Our images are tracked, on your computers,
As we travel forth and back, from you shooters!
Darn intruders!
Trees fall.
Fields are plowed.
We can barely hide, to save our hides!
So, you say, that there’s a bunch of us!
We didn’t build the roads we cross,
Where we get hit, at whatever cost.
So, here I am up in “Deer Heaven,” ’cause I lost.

Pretty Sky
Sitting by vehicles
Watching me
The one I let go away
End of Hunt

Huntergal Season Four

Huntergal Returns, Stepping Out
By Valerie J Laidlaw

For months, then weeks, I tried to find a way,
To put into words, my final say,
Then, came that “opening day.”
But, alas, I was “duty-bound,”
The huntergal inside, was found!

The day arrived before the sun,
The earth was still a shadow, as we begun,
The hunting totes were reopened, again.
A thermal layer, thick stockings, then bibs,
A fleece sweatshirt, a harness, boots,
A knife in its sheath, strapped on a belt,
Extra ammo in a wallet, gloves, a hat,
And a blaze-orange jacket to top all that.
A small, nylon, orange, drawstring backpack,
Which once held my passport, while traveling abroad,
ID, deer license & tags in two small, red folders,
I’m ready to roll, but I feel like such a clodd.
We left, only 5 minutes late, but that’s not bad,
As we ride in our Trailblazer, a half of an hour,
Then to 4-wheel, we switch,
As we roll alongside, in the ditch.
“We are here,” and it’s still dark, as we park,
After loading our Winchesters, we disembark.
I trudge on the road,
Then, clumsily, slowly, with all of my gumption,
I tried to turn back around…
As my legs, feet, and hips refused to function.
I was breathing so heavily, and strong,
My husband, frustrated with my lack of speed, trotted ahead, and was gone,
Through the pain, between breaths, my mouth and my voice whispered complaints,
Yet, in my mind, I tried to sing a song,
Since, I no longer had a choice, but to go along.

Huntergal Returns, Climbing Up
By Valerie J Laidlaw
I located the “tin hat” marker down on the ground,
And, set it up in a bush, near a tree, recently cut down.
A thick shadow still covered the forested riverside,
I found the ladder, and prepared to climb, as I tethered my gun, alongside.
Climbing with layers of clothing and heavy, knee-high boots with thick toes,
At the platform, I held tight, stepping up with my right,
Then, resting for a moment, I pulled on my left knee with all of my might,
Then, with a final thrust of energy, lunged forward, up on my knees,
Sitting up in my perch, like a crow’s nest, up in a tree.
It wasn’t as cold, as previous years,
Where a biting, north wind brought my eyes to frozen tears.
The darkness evolved into a more colorful day,
Little, dark mice crawled out from under the maple leaves, and began to play,
Then, they hid, while the Squirrels scurried around, on fallen branches,
In the trees, a dozen tiny birds surrounded me,
Chirping, flitting about, checking out me, their new discovery,
After they flew away with their cheerful song,
Up the riverbank, small, yearling deer stumbled along,
Too young, too small, and too far away,
For the huntergal to shoot, on that day.
We met our friends for lunch,
Exchanging stories among the bunch.
The brother’s son, a year older chimed in on the fun,
The grandma was so excited, as her daughter, the sister, was expecting a little one, another grandson.

Huntergal Returns, In a Box
By Valerie J Laidlaw
Returning, the weather changed to a windy, wet sleet.
So, I decided to move Southward with less strain on my feet.
Alongside a road with a wide, open field,
Above the stream’s bank, where a stilted box was revealed.
Covered with camo, plus, sheltered more from the wind,
With a makeshift houseladder, and a busted deskchair, within.
I scanned the scene, with much pleasure,
This was obviously more suited to me, in my leisure.
I watched a squirrel, as he filled his mouth with his treasures,
From the edge of the field, scurrying, circling, from branch to branch, tree to tree, to a log with his hoard,
As entertaining as he was, I was not a bit ever bored.
A couple, orange dots appeared at the end of the tree line southwest, till they grew into hunters, climbing a tree.
They stayed, as two flocks of geese flew by, With a break of blue, in the clouded sky,
One flock had an gathering of at least…
A couple hundred geese flying in a “V.”
A helicopter, flying overhead, from the south, northward, sped,
I waved, as a beacon of light flashed downward, as it left.
Softly, snowflakes floated down, covering the scene,
Like a blanket of white cotton, so pure, and so clean.
Two does slowly moved, from behind a bush of grapevine,
To the open field, near a post, to graze upon, for a time.
My shot was clear as I stood, and peered in my scope,
Yet, it was much further away, than I had hoped.
I pulled the trigger and shot, and both does looked around, as in shock.
One limped off the field, as the other followed, with a trot.
They both went behind the grapevine, as I tried another few shots,
I texted, so my husband would know my next thought.
I climbed slowly down, and walked toward the spot she had last stood.
A trail led the way to the old cemetary, by the southeastern woods.
Within the gate, my injured deer stood sideways stone-still, and tall,
As if she wanted to see the huntergal, who had shot her with the crackling, gun’s call,
Then, she bolted to the woods, seemingly undaunted,
Where her upturned, white tail did a final leap, and, in my mind, it still haunted.
I found her laying on the ground all still, and with a faint smile,
And, just stood watching the beautiful creature of God, for a while.
At that time, little woodpeckers started tapping branches of the trees surrounding her,
As if to say, she’s gone, yet “life goes on.”

Huntergal Returns, Majestic
By Valerie J Laidlaw

I walked away from the fallen doe beside the graveyard, towards the gate,
And, within three yards, a fully-racked buck walked by me in a proud, majestic state.
I slowly pulled my spandex scope cover off, as he turned his gaze towards me,
Then, he bounded beyond my sight, hiding within the border of trees.
I went back to my box again, till the sky grew dark to the west.
My husband, also shot a deer, and searched in the dark to find out where it rest.
Our friends completed their processing, and helped to load both deer.
Our fridge freezer will be filled now, yet, I’m still not in a mood of cheer.
Yet, relieved, as the job of hunting, to me, is now, done for another year.

Across the field
In the box
In the box
Where she lay