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Monday, September 26, 2005 

Sign sign everywhere sign

Uncle Fred lived at the base of a mountain on the other side of the creek across from the dairy farm. As you know he detested work in any form. The only way this worked for him is because he inherited a bunch of money from his parents when they were killed. Uncle Fred never spoke to me about the accident even though it happened 20 years or more before I was born. He used the money to buy the land and the house he lived on and put the rest aside to insure that he would not have to work again unless the mood hit him, and it never did.

The Great thing about uncle Fred was because he did not work he had tons of time for the kid across the way, me. Parents are great but they can only give a kid a pinch of a day here and there, a bum can give you all of his time because he is not consumed with making a living. He took me fishing and taught me to hunt for deer, which brings us to today’s story.

Uncle Fred decided it was about time that I learned to hunt deer, so he invited me to his land for preseason scouting, mostly a long walk in the woods in the rain. I was 11 years old and loved to meander through the woods. Fred would point out different tracks and their origin. He would point at the ground and say fox and there would be a fox track he would then take a few more steps and point and say rabbit, then he would start looking this way and that and show me some rabbit fur and say that fox had a rabbit dinner. Then latter we would see a pile of fox poop containing fur. He told me that while interesting poop was not a matter of great concern. In hunting circles it is referred to as “Sign”. You can’t eat sign he said. What he meant, of course, is that deer poop all over the place and while it is interesting to find, he did not believe that it helped him find deer, which he could eat. This is in large debate in some circles and please I don’t want to here any conflicting views. But I digress; He lived to eat those words.

As we walked along to his favorite deer woods we started seeing lots of deer tracks. It was neat. He could tell buck tracks from doe tracks. He could approximate the age of the deer the size. I would point out a pile of deer poop and he would look at me in disgust and say. Dang it Snagley how many times do I have to tell you, you cant eat sign. I would always point it out to him whenever “sign” was present, mostly to get him all riled up and say ”boy you cant eat sign”. I never knew why he always did that, it seemed odd but he seemed to have a serious aversion to deer poop.

I setup a plan to trick him. My 11-year-old mind was at work. I had some chocolate covered raisins in my pocket. If you did not know chocolate covered raisins are exact replicas for deer sign. While Uncle Fred was looking at some tracks I sprinkled some on the ground and said. Look Uncle Fred deer sign, he looked at me with that look of disgust, spit tobacco juice on the ground and said, “boy how many times do I have to tell you, you cant eat sign”. I said, “oh I don’t know about that”, and then I reached down and flicked a raisin into the air and caught it in my mouth. Uncle Fred’s lower jaw fell open and his lips began to quiver and he deposited his lunch on my boot.

It was a long time before Uncle Fred forgave me for that little trick. Once he realized what had happened he chased me most of the way home, pausing only to gag. And, it was even longer before Fred could eat a chocolate covered raisin without gagging. And I offered them to him quite regularly.