At precisely 7:30 pm, amidst laughter and revelry, the President of the Ostrich Society struck the ball peen gavel on the workbench which was covered with wild game and homemade dishes provided by the members of the Society. It took two raps before the members quieted down enough to proceed.
A loud voice from next to the makeshift bar setup made the motion to dispense with normal business and proceed directly to the business at hand which was the continuation of the revelry which had begun an hour prior. In unison, members seconded the motion and the gavel struck once more and the President announced “Let the party begin.”
The garage – the official meeting place of the Ostrich Society – had been transformed from the usual rustic man-cave setting to a festive holiday motif: Greenery was strung through the rafters with pinecones hanging here and there and red and gold ribbon laced throughout. A small pine was standing on a table which had been dug from along the South Branch of the Au Sable. It would later be planted in a members yard.
Several members brought their bird dogs who, for the most part, were sitting next to where the food was displayed, sitting attentive in hopes of sharing the bounty. Others were sitting next to their hunting partners getting the occasional hand-out.
The mood was jovial. All were laughing, telling stories, all except Paul McBride, who was leaning against the bar drinking four fingers of bourbon. (The two finger rule had been relaxed for the occasion.) Paul wasn’t in the holiday spirit, he had suffered the loss of his hunting partner, Trescott, several weeks ago to a rare form of cancer.
Trescott was Paul’s German Shorthair Pointer of 11 years and his constant companion. Trescott would ride next to him in the truck, wait for him while he was in a store and sit in the front hall of the house staring at the door when Paul went out without him. They ate together, slept together, hunted together and were generally considered to be one entity. When the Vet diagnosed Trescott with cancer, it was as though Paul had been diagnosed. And when the end came, the life seemed to have left him too. Since that time, Paul just went through the motions of getting on with life, so the Society hatched a plan.
It was customary for members to give small gifts which ranged from flies to hand loaded shells. Occasionally a younger member would receive an old fly rod or shotgun from one of the “old timers” who decided the recipient would appreciate the item, respect its history and eventually pass it on.
The exchange had been going on for an hour when the door to the garage opened and a uniformed policeman entered. Seeing the uniform, the garage instinctively quieted down until it was clear the officer was none other than Jake McGraw.
Jake called out of service for his dinner break and helped himself to the wild game dishes he had helped provide. He pulled up a chair next to Paul and casually began a conversation about the call he had just come from. Someone had abandoned a litter of what looked to be German Shorthair pups. They were two or three months old and cute as buttons. He called animal control and they removed the pups to the shelter and were sure someone would adopt them. The shelter group would neuter and spay them before they were adopted.
Paul interjected after hearing that the pups would be neutered that it was a shame to neuter a fine hunter. Trescott had never been neutered and Paul was sorry he had not kept one of his offspring from one of the litters he sired. He lamented how great it would be to keep Trescott’s line going. He hadn’t noticed that the room went quiet. They all watched as Paul showed signs of life, talking with Jake about the pups. Jake asked if he Paul was serious. Paul thought for a moment then said, “I’d give anything to have a piece of Trescott in my life.”
A big grin appeared on Jake’s face as he got up and left the garage. When he returned, he held a squirming bundle of liver, white and black.
The President quickly explained the pup Jake held actually came from a litter in Minnesota that had been sired by a descendant of Trescott. Jake had driven there to get the pup. The members had concocted Jake’s story to find out what Paul’s thinking was about a new pup.
Paul, not being known to be sentimental, wiped a tear from the corner of his eye as the members cheered and wished him a Very Merry Christmas.
The annual prize of a bottle of fine bourbon awarded for the best gift was opened and shared by all.
The above is related as The Truth, Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth …..give or take a lie or two!