|Clay's home office.|
Clay is literally a professional hunter (and hunting writer, and hunting magazine editor). A week or two ago, Clay and Daniel took our boys, his boys, and one of his two daughters coon hunting with the Newcombs' young coon dog, Fern. It being in the Ozark Mountains and all, it was so Where The Red Fern Grows I could hardly stand it.
Five boys staying up way past their bedtime on a school night.
Fern is a young dog, but a good dog, and she treed a big ole coon. Daniel filled it full of bullets (36 to be exact, he counted the shells) but that coon had stopped in a cradle of branches in the tree and its body stayed wedged there, never falling. No coonskin cap for us.
But Clay's daughter, River, who is almost a teenager and loves coon hunting, found a turtle out there in the woods and gave it to our boys as a memento. Zion named it Evan Pee Rucomb (Rucomb because of our two names, Rupp and Newcomb, and Pee because that turtle peed all the way home in the car.
Evan lived for a few days, until one day he didn't, and then we buried him by a tree in the backyard. Zion marked his grave with these two headstones, spelling the turtle's name a little funny. Looking at this grave made us grownups wonder at life, childhood, death, and every other sweet thing in between.