Our school was made of logs and on the first day of class, there were seven of us kids in it. Our teacher was Mr. George Pine.
“The first thing we’re going to learn today is how to catch a rabbit,” Mr. Pine said. “After we catch it, we’ll skin it and cook it and eat it, if we can catch it by lunchtime. You might already know how to catch a rabbit, but I’m going to teach you my way of going about it. If it’s different from your daddy’s way, then you’ll know two ways.”
“We got a wild turkey the other day,” little Boone said.
“You can trap a wild turkey,” Mr. Pine, “but generally you’ll just shoot it instead. It’s a project to trap a turkey. Not like snaring a rabbit… Now, if you haven’t skinned and cooked a rabbit, well then you’ll be learning how to do that too.”
“I almost got a squirrel with my slingshot,” Brockton said.
“Slingshot, bow and arrow, just plain old chucking a rock, there’s a lot you can accomplish out there in the woods with such,” Mr. Pine said. “We’ll be making our snare out of a loop of wire. You’ll each make one. We’ll be staking our snares into the ground along rabbit tracks. We’ve got a lot of rabbits around here and they are creatures of habit. They’ll stick to their paths. Rabbits can be somewhat of a pest, but they’re good eating, for us and for plenty of foxes and coyotes and such. We’ll be checking our snare so a fox or a coyote doesn’t beat us to our catch.”
“My dad shot a coyote,” Annie said.
“Coyotes help keep down the vermin, but a man will shoot a coyote from time to time,” Mr. Pine said.
“We don’t eat meat,” I said. “We don’t slaughter animals.”
“Well, Sue, that’s OK. You can just come along for the company. We’ll have you carry the water.”
“I was thinking that I could go over and pick some of that wild asparagus along the south road, and maybe some blueberries on the way back. We could use them for lunch too.”
“You know how to cook up that asparagus?” Mr. Pine said.
“Just roast it with olive oil and butter, and a little salt and pepper. That’s how we do it.”
“That sounds good,” Mr. Pine said. “You know what a porcini looks like?”
“There’s some of them up now. Perhaps you could pick us a sack of those as well.”
“OK,” I said.
“But you can’t go alone, that’s the only problem.”
“I’ll go with her,” Tom said. “I’ve caught a thousand rabbits.”
That’s how the first day of school and the first day of me and Tom got started and they were both great.