arrows…

They hung from the wall in the back bedroom, in an old back quiver; odd arrows left over from dozens bought throughout the years for a purpose that I always wondered about. Sometimes I’d ask, “Daddy, what are those real skinny aluminum ones used for? The ones with the little bitty feathers.”

“I shot those in field archery,” he’s say, which only led to other questions.

They always looked better than the ones I carried in my quiver as an 8-year old boy. I had each one rank ordered in precedence so when I broke, bent or lost mine I’d know which one to ask for next. My quiver was full of mismatched arrows, but that was okay with me.  I knew that the fat aluminum ones had to be held a little higher than the short wooden ones, which he cut down and put the points back on each time I broke them.

I don’t know when I first discovered the lair of arrows in the basement, but I know it took me a long time to get permission to make a withdrawal. I guess I was 10 or 12; certainly I was old enough to recognize that the word “Bear” on the top of the long thin cardboard boxes meant archery goodies. They were stacked on a shelf and once I found them I couldn’t stop coveting my father’s treasure – beautifully crested wood arrows, flu-flu arrows with bright feathers, and even a dozen tipped with Bear broadheads.

I waited until I felt the time was right, when he seemed weak and vulnerable to the gentle urging of good boy that had worked hard to help his father on the farm that day and then I asked, “Daddy, you think you’ll ever shoot those arrows on the shelf in the basement again.”

“I see you’ve been prowling,” he replied, which was a dangerous answer that could indicate his disapproval.  I decided to back off for a few days before I mentioned it again. I knew it could take gentle persistence over time to get a full tour of the arrow lair, but it was worth the wait.

Eventually, he took them down box by box and told a story with each dozen, and each story filled my mind with visions of archery. I shot out of those boxes throughout my childhood, making my own memories with each quiver full.

I snapped out of it when someone walked into the archery shop. I must have drifted off in thought as I watched him standing there.  I smiled. He still remained, staring into a bucket of arrows lost and found on the courses at Twin Oaks. Each was different and each had a story of its own. He wondered what those stories were. I know this because I was a boy once too. “If you see one you want go ahead and take it,” I said… and he did.

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