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Horace Pippin. The Squirrel Hunter, 1940. WikiArt.

Horace Pippin. The Squirrel Hunter, 1940. WikiArt.

“Mutt” the Game Warden finally caught up with Everett* on the banks of Cove Creek – his gun in one hand, a pouch full of squirrels in the other.  It was lowest point of the Great Depression and – in his desperation – Everett had planned to feed his family with the unfortunate critters.

“Drop ‘em!”

Reluctantly, my great grandfather tossed four squirrels at Mutt’s feet.

So much for dinner.

Now, I’ve been very fortunate in life.  I’ve been hungry, but I’ve never starved.  I’ve never looked at a squirrel and thought, “yum”.  And my parents never risked jail time because they were forced to hunt wrong animal in the wrong season.

Wrong season?  Yes.  Squirrels are “small game” – and this was not small game season.  Everett had poached in King Mutt’s forest, and for that transgression he was slapped with a hefty fine.

And of course – there was no money to pay the fine.

Mutt escorted my great-grandfather back to his house.  Great Grandma Mae wept as her husband packed his shaving kit. (How kind of Mutt to allow that luxury).  Grandma, her two sisters, and her brother stood wringing their hands – worrying – not understanding why Daddy was going to jail trying to bring home dinner.

A dinner that was lost somewhere out in the woods.

Thankfully, Aunt Mabel arrived and she did have some money.  She paid the fine and saved Everett from a stint in the hoosegow.  But it was a close call – one that left the family shaken for quite some time.   My grandmother was sent to live on a neighboring farm – where she worked as a laborer before and after school.

Until this weekend, no one ever talked about the incident with Mutt.

somehow
despite the taint of injustice
you have grown taller

FULL lyrics to the song you thought you knew:

“There was a big, high wall there that tried to stop me –
 The sign was painted; it said, “Private Property”
 But on the back side it didn’t say nothin’ –
 This land was made for you and me.”

All names are changed.  Except for Mutt.  I figure he must have earned the nickname. 

Linked to Carpe Diem #701: Ancestors.  Here is a haiku from Issa:

on the ancestors’ altar
without fail
a lucky wind blows 

And here is a haiku from our host:

on the credenza
the images of ancestors
lighted by a candle

© Chèvrefeuille

Here’s another haibun based on my Grandmother’s memories.

Reza Abbasi.  Hunters at a Stream, 1627.  WikiArt.  Detail

Reza Abbasi. Hunters at a Stream, 1627. WikiArt.

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26 thoughts on “Mutt and Everett (Haibun)

  1. As you say, it’s really not possible for us to understand that level of desperation, firstly for food and then at the prospect of the law crashing down and wrecking your family, over misdemeanours. Horrible. And Grandma was made to work as a labourer?

    I’ll be interested to see how you decide to tweak this, if you do…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there — Yes, she and the eldest sister were hired out — and for quite some time, too.

      In re-reading this, I’m still not quite sure what to do with it. It feels like there should be more haiku along the way – to bring it back to nature. BUT — the single line “paragraphs” provide commentary and “punctuation”. Perhaps they could be re-written as haiku or senryu. So. it’s something to think about o.O

      Like

      • That’s what occurred to me as I was reading – that the addition of more haiku could increase the focus on ‘then’, if you see what I mean. There is a wealth of emotion and characterisation in what happened, which you could easily draw out with some expert haiku, I’m sure 🙂

        Like

        • Oh good — you see it too! I may let this one sit for a while — closer to the next bookscover2cover deadline — and then rework some of the short sentences into haiku. A closer look at that bag of squirrels; a note on there being nothing left to sell to raise the fine (in a senryu, somehow). Perhaps rework the final senryu to make it less obvious.

          Thanks for the feedback — and the encouragement 🙂
          This is so helpful. Have I ever told you how grateful I am? Because I am. 🙂

          Like

        • Yes, a close-up for the unfortunate squirrels should definitely supply an opportunity for subtle metaphor, hey.

          But there’s really no need at all to be “grateful” – it’s chatting with friends and so words like that don’t enter into it 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • 😀 Well, just so you know how much I enjoy these chats 😀

          Guess what? The haibun essay is live at bookscover2cover now. Yay! Just a broad overview for the first installment. 🙂

          Like

        • Excellent! I must say I’m looking forward to learning more about the history. I remember when you explained to me the origin of haiku as an independent form and it was fascinating.

          So, I’ll head over to bookscover2cover after dinner. In fact, I still owe you a reply for your latest, generous reply – for which, apologies 😦

          Liked by 1 person

        • No worries, Blake – I understand 🙂

          Was trying to make it brief so as not to scare people away – yet hint at the depth too. That depth comes with essay 2 🙂

          Like

  2. Lovely haibun and I was so worried for the family … you wrote this very very well. The period of the great depression was terrible for many families . they were lucky that Aunt Mabel arrived! Brava!!

    Like

    • Thanks Georgia 🙂

      Yes, it was looking pretty bad. And the back story of how he got caught? Just as interesting. Talk about family history. Yikes! And after Grandma’s farm labor days she contracted polio too — had to relearn how to walk. She was one of the fortunate few to be able to do so. Could have been a heck of a lot worse.

      Strong people.

      Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      Like

    • Thank you very much! This means a lot — Grandma’s story is a great one — but how to present it? The final haiku was a challenge. So thank you.
      And I’ve been enjoying your blog too 🙂

      All the best —
      Jen

      Liked by 1 person

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