Support BladeForums! Paid memberships don't see ads! It was a crisp late autumn day and most the leaves had already fallen from the trees. A slightly chill breeze blew down through the woods, making a slight rushing noise through the tree limbs. Dad and I were tailing a plinking walk, making our way along shooting at targets of opportunity. We’d stopped at a pine tree with a good number pine cones hanging. Dad had his every present old Colt Woodsman, a trim little pre-war model with the skinny pencil barrel. I had his old Winchester 69 that he’d finally bequeathed me. To me, it was as good as Danial Boone’s flintlock or John Wayne’s big loop Winchester 73. A treasure. Dad always let me shoot first, and if I missed he’d try with his old Woodman, and to my shame he cleaned up after me on regular basis. At age 13 I still had some things to learn. I think him and that Colt was an inspiration for me to concentrate harder. After a while there was but one single pine cone hanging from a low laying limb. I tried and missed, so dad shot. He missed. I shot again and missed, and then dad missed again. He didn’t miss very often, and I figured that pine cone was one lucky cone. Then dad held out his hand. "Give me that rifle, son.” He said, and I handed over the 69. Dad turned party to the right and put the gun up to his shoulder, and slid his left hand back on the for stock until his hand was almost right under the magazine. Then with his left elbow firmly into his left rib cage, he breathed a few times, then relaxed until he was a statue frozen in time. It seemed like forever until that rife gave off that familiar light crack, and the pine cone shattered into pieces. He handed the rifle back to me. “I think it’s time for lunch, boyo.” He said to me. It was curious that even though he came to American when he was 5 years old, maybe having a mother and father and two older brothers that had a brogue you could spread with a garden trowel, had him still with a bit of an Irish accent and use of the old country slang. We found a downed tree to sit on and serve as out table and dad set about making our lunch. Another personality quirk of his was, he hated pre made sandwiches. Dad would rather pack along the makings and make the sandwich on site when he was hungry. Said it tasted better. But most of all, loved watching dad work with his little pocket knife. I don’t know if any thoracic surgeon was more careful with a scalpel than dad with his little case peanut that was part of him. He’d brought along a length of French Baggette for the sandwich holding duty. Carefully, he cut the length of the slim loaf and laid it on the log. Then he delt with the filling. A hard dry Spanish sausage called a Supressa or something like that, was the victim. I watched in fascination as the thin blade of that old peanut cut slices so thin you could almost see through them. They were placed on the bread in an over lapping pattern and looked like a work of art from some culinary magazine. Then came some tomato and mustard squeezed from a small bottle. He handed me my half of the woods made sub sandwich and we ate in companionable quiet. Dad wasn’t the most talkative man in the world. Finally I asked him why he used a pistol when the rifle was so much more accurate. He chewed for a while and when he was ready gave his answer. It always took dad a while to answer, like he was thinking carefully how to say something while using the fewest number of words. But sometimes, he surprised me with a wordy answer and a philosophy. “Well lad, the pistol is easier to carry, will do most times for what needs to be shot, but most of all, the handicap makes me concentrate more.” He told me. “It makes me think about what I’m doing more, and I know I have to be more careful about what I’m doing. And thinking is an important thing to do, no matter what you’re about.” “Like your little pocket knife?” I asked him. “Aye lad, like that. It’s too easy to go through life with things too easy. Too many people rush along not really thinking what thay’re about, not really noticing things they need to notice. Like using hand tools instead of a power tool that is so fast you don’t really appreciate what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s nice to just slow down and take a look at where you’re going. Go too fast through life and you miss things. Like driving too fast through nice countryside.” That was a long speech for dad, and I thought about it as I chewed through the next bite of sandwich. As I ate dad took the small thermos out from his bag and poured some of the tea from home iinto the tin cups. I took a swig and tasted the bite of some whiskey in it. I questioned him about it. “Ah, a wee bit of a dram will do no harm and it’s a chilly day. A bit of the old country will do ya some good now and then.” Dad had a taste now and then for Old Bushmills Irish whiskey. We finished our sandwiches and sipped our whiskey bolstered tea and listened to the wind in the trees. Dad picked up his little peanut and carefully stropped the blade on his boot top with slow careful strokes. I knew that if I felt that edge, it would have that fingerprint grabbing sharpness to it. That thin blade seems to be easy to keep razor sharp. He set great store by that little knife and always handled it with care. Like his Colt .22, it was well worn but with a nice well cared for look that the years had graced it. That Colt Woodsman and Case peanut sort of defined him, and his minimalist habits. The man was always a lesson of some sort if I took the time to study him and keep my ears open. And pay attention.