We had a weekend’s worth of fun with both grandsons at the Swimming Hole, which is The Place To Be in the August heat. Water comes out of my well at 68 degrees, and we keep that valve cracked in August.
Uncle Dee had a couple months ago introduced water pistols to the youngsters gathered at the Swimming Hole, and Grandson Sir (Sean Robert Irwin, but the last initial goes in the middle, for monograms) had appropriated them for our water play, sneaking up on his Grunk (short for Granddaddy Uncle Bob) to splat me, or both of us sneaking up dog paddling on objects in the pool. On Saturday afternoon, the thunderheads threatened from a distance, and the snake doctors (dragonflies) just swarmed in the humidity, all around the pool, pasture, and nearby yard. Sir immediately saw the opportunity for target practice, and informed me of the plot. We refilled our guns and advanced from the water to the shade of an oak, where it seemed the biggest congregation of snake doctors (also called mosquito hawks) hovered.
Whether one is a grown-up or not, one cannot shoot a water pistol at a target without making the standard “Kiirr, kirr, kirr” imitation of a gunshot. Doots (Betsy’s Grandmother name) was tending Nil (Neill Leiton Irwin: ditto on mongrams) in the shade of the big cypress by the Swimming Hole, and they were initially started by the barrage of water-pistol shots from close by. “You can’t hide from me!” bellowed Sir at his prey (where’d he get that?). I actually got pretty close to several snake doctors with my first shots, and began taking more careful aim, thinking that dove season is only a few weeks away, and this was a less expensive tune-up than shooting clay pigeons in the pasture, like we usually do, “Turning money into noise,” as Mountain Willy used to call it.
“I’m outa bullets!” the leader of our posse called (he actually had a stick horse that Doots had made, complete with eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and mane sewn on a stuffed-sock head). “Back to the water!” he ordered, and we charged back into chest-deep water to reload. Moments later, he directed another charge into the midst of the enemy, firing at the darting insects, who after several successive forays seemed to catch the spirit of things, and actually looked like they were darting into our shots – or maybe our lead angles were just getting better. Sir was obviously catching onto a sense of ballistics!
When I was a kid, we gained our understanding of ballistics from whacking with sticks the bumblebees that hovered and darted about the cypress barn, houses, and commissary store on the plantation. Brer Beau was good enough for college baseball, having trained on bumblebees as a youngster. I whacked my share too, but the right-hand, left-hand thing got me. I made my mark in football.
Which I now was beginning to remember from my youth, too: we had to run and practice in the August heat to get in shape for the season, and Sir was a whole lot less tired than I was after a few dozen windsprints from pool to pasture and back to reload – which I began to stretch as long as I could, to the distress of my posse leader: “Come on, Grunk!” he urged.
Thankfully, the snake doctors were attracted to the pool as the afternoon waned, and we were able to designate a target-rich environment over the water which I, as a former Navy Gunnery Officer, was able to appreciate a lot more!
Much later in the afternoon we gravitated to BB gun practice, shooting at cans that did not hover and dart about. Yet I had to wonder: how could we market commercially this practice for getting ready for wing-shooting, which is right around the corner? Does Remington make a water-shotgun?
If not, here’s an opportunity for new businesses!
But lighten up on the Grunk, as far as pasture windsprints are concerned!
Mr. Neill I have been a fan of your’s for years. Had several autographed copies of your books but they was lost in a house fire. My favorite was The Jakes it was the only copy I was able to salvage. I meet you years ago in Natchez at a turkey calling contest. You was friends with my uncle Tommy Bourne.