His shadow dances in the trees behind him – the out of proportion shape of a boy with a hat to big and marshmallow smeared up his cheeks. What goes through the mind of a boy when he stares into dancing flames and glowing embers? He could be anything from Daniel Boone to Fred Bear right now. Where is he? Where has his imagination taken him? Are we making memories that he will carry with him throughout his life? He mentioned bears earlier. Is he on a bear hunt? Am I the hero of his dream?
The warmth of the coals cuts the bite of the cool night air. Maybe that’s it. We’re in Alaska hunting bears with our longbows. He leads us along the crystal clear glacier waters. Salmon the size of his legs squirm into the current and then we see him — a massive male grizzer bear. In an almost silent whisper, I warn him not to get to close, but using the stealth he’s learned over countless hunts he creeps forward to a position where he can get a shot. A large bolder provides concealment from the bear that is slowly working his way along the river towards us. Our hearts are racing as we can now hear the bear’s colossal paws on the rocks. We’re set. I crouch just behind him, a proud but very nervous father. We can hear the bear breathing now, which sends chills up my spine. He brings the bow up for the shot. The bear is literally 10 yards from us when his head becomes visible on the other side of the bolder. He could turn on us in an instant. Our hearts are about to explode. We are swimming in a pool of adrenaline. The bear looks into the water opening himself up for a quartering away shot. The boy draws the bow, steady and cool, just like I’ve taught him. I admire his skills as I await the release…..and then…..
The boy shakes his head as if waking from a dream. “Dad.”
“Can I have another smoore?”