COLUMBUS _ The little chair was a blessing to the back, but the pipe at the front of the canvas seat pressed under my knees, and my legs were numbing.
I didn't dare move. The woods were quiet, the only sound the distant hum of a diesel truck barreling down Route 8 on a cold sunny November morning.
The breeze wasn't helping, flickering uphill and down, first in the face, then down the neck, carrying my scent in two directions.
I didn't dare move.
I was tucked in between soft maples, on a little plateau midway up the hill. I was scouting the swamp below, a tangle of stunted hemlocks and tall marshy grasses, the muddy green ooze and rough reeds where Bullwinkle sleeps. Time to wake up, big fella. Time to go for a walk along the old log road. ...
Would I see him today? Would he be so nice as to come within 50 yards, then pause, hold that, as I lowered the barrel?
Maybe not, but hunting season's the only time I'm in the woods, seeing who else and what else lives there. I breathed in deeply. I felt my heart slow, felt every beat, sitting expectantly on that uncomfortable chair, halfway up the hill.
I could just move my legs, of course, but that would rustle leaves, spook anything nearby and I thought I smelled a deer.
I didn't move.
I scanned downhill, monitoring tunnels between trees, searching for a sign of movement. I listened intently, but heard nothing as the smell faded away until I questioned whether I'd smelled anything.
At last, I rested my shotgun in the crotch of a tree, and using my hands, hoisted my legs to the sides of the chair. Leaves crackled, a little stick snapped, then behind me I heard a snort. I twisted around, saw the horns, the buck wheeling like a cop in hot pursuit, then lunge into the nearby brush.
An epithet escaped my lips and I saw nothing else that trip.
"So, that's where I'm going when we go back out," I told Uncle Chet a couple of hours later as we had coffee and toast at the house. "I think he's coming back."
"We'll see," he said. "I think that chair's a bust. You'd better go back to the stool."
"At least it's not too cold out there," he yawned, leaning back in his chair in the warm kitchen.
"Not at all," I said. "Even my feet weren't cold."
"Consequence of global warming," he said. "We're seeing it in our lifetimes. It's still good around here, but it's changing. We're more like what mid-Atlantic was when I was a kid."
"They don't make winters like they used to," I said.
"And the summers are hotter, but the Republicans don't believe it."
"They don't know the difference between weather and climate," I said.
"They think all scientists are Democrats," Uncle Chet said. "And most probably are, because who's going to join a party that rejects science and thinks God made a flat world in seven days?"
"They don't all think that," I said.
"No, but according to the Pew Center, 79 percent of Democrats think the world is warming and 53 percent believe it's because of human activity."
"But only 38 percent of Republicans think it's getting hotter," he said, "and only 16 percent say it's because of human activity."
"That's because they can afford air conditioning," I said.
"The way FOX-GOP looks at it, global warming is a moral, not a scientific, question," he said. "Because global warming will require government regulations to curtail emissions and mandate efficiency, it may compromise short-term corporate profit, and anything that lowers profit is immoral and must be denied as long as practically possible."
"You betcha," I said. "Amen."
Cooperstown bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears every other week. For more of his columns, visit www.thedailystar.com/tomgrace