The next time that Archer called he suggested that this time, I come to see where he lives. (Hmmmm…. very interesting.) He said he’d like to show me all the work he’s done on his family farm. He’s set up all sorts of hunting and wildlife area. He sounds very proud of it. He’s been practicing his archery skills as well. And participating in competitions and even though he says he’s not very good.. I’m certain he’s better at it than I am. I haven’t touched a bow and arrow since high school. I was instructed to bring some warm clothes along.
It’s a sunny crisp 20 degrees as I drive to Archer’s. I’m hoping I’ve brought enough extra clothes to keep me warm. He’s quite an outdoorsman, so I think I’m in for an adventure. I’ve never been to the small town that he lives in. Up the exit ramp and turn Left. It’s a very, very small town. One blink and you’d miss it. Archer’s house is located on the middle of the block on a nice residential street. He’s waiting in the doorway with his blue eyes sparkling as I pull into the driveway. I smile as he greets me with a kiss and hug. I feel excited to be here. He takes my tote bag with extra clothes and leads me inside.
It almost seems as if I’m here for a tour, you know the kind. Like when you’re in the market to buy a home. He showed me every nook and cranny of his home. He pointed out the updates he’s made, like the new deck just off of the dining room.
“I’ve been getting ready.” He explained. “I even got a passport in case I meet someone who wants to travel.”
It seems Archer is seriously in the market himself. Looking for a partner. I make a mental note as we he mentions he’d like to show me his workshop. Little did I know at the moment, but everyone in town knew Archer had a woman at his home. The low-pitched buzz of the neighbors talking could be heard as we got in his car and drove to the shop. But first we stopped at the fire station where I got a personal tour of the fire engines and paramedic equipment he uses when he’s out on emergency calls. I was happy to see the excitement and pride on Archer’s face. Next.. onto the shop. I was just inside the door of the shop when ‘company’ came calling. Friends of Archer’s stopped by when they saw his car parked outside. A short little chat and a once over and they left. I decided it was a good thing that the town was in such a buzz over me being there. It probably meant that this wasn’t an every day occurence for Archer.
Finally back to his house and a change into the layers of warm clothes I brought. Here’s where the adventure begins. Archer has a winter hike of his own planned. But there are no trails. There are no trees for me to hug as I shimmy around the icy spots. But there’s snow. Lots of snow.
Archer chatters away telling me about this farmstead and that farm-house and just around the bend… he pulls over to the side of the road and gets out of the car. He pulls on his hat and gloves, then zips his jacket up as far as it will go. (Are we headed to the Tundra? I’m not prepared.) I hopped out of the car with the hint of a dare floating through my mind. (This is like my ‘is she partner material’ interview.) He’s showed me his house, his shop and the fire station… now, he wants to see if I have what it takes in the outdoors. Well let me tell you… I can take a dare.. and I’ll handle this interview with flying colors, just you wait and see.
Archer put a can of soda into each of his pockets…’in case we get thirsty’. It’s then that I had the bright idea to ask where it was we were hiking to. He pointed —-> that way. He just walked straight out into the field. No path, no other footsteps for as far as I could see. (How crazy is this?”) But I followed him. Afterall he had the sodas. Now you have to keep in mind that I’m vertically challenged… okay let’s just say it, I’m short. And we’ve had regular snowfalls every three days all darn winter. (Are you thinking what I’m thinking?) All I had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other. About a mile into the field.. the snow got deeper. And there was a hill. Then the snow got crunchy under my feet. I didn’t see it coming.. I just kept following Archer’s foot steps. But with my next step.. suddenly my foot went through the crunchy layer of snow into the deeper fluffy snow underneath it. I was in up to my knee. And when I pulled my foot out of the snow hole.. my boot tried to stay inside it. Archer heard me lagging behind him and he turned to see me up to ‘there’ in the snow hole. He came back for me. I made light of my mishap that first time. But it became a regular every third step sort of situation. We’re now about three miles into this field when he announces, ‘its just over the incline’. (I’m thinking it would be great if there were a little log cabin with a roaring fire, a nice fluffy quilt and hot cider just over the incline. There wasn’t.) But there was a babbling brook that had open water breaking through the snow drifts. I do love water. (Very smart man!)
Archer brushed the snow off of a fallen log and we sat down and shared a soda. Sitting there listening to the rushing water, with the crisp fresh air filling my lungs, I could see the beauty here. Archer pointed over to a tree and then up into the tree..
“I’ve worked on all of my deer stands this fall. Getting them good and sturdy, with solid foot holds. I’ve been thinking of Hunter (my 9 year-old) standing up there. I wanted to make sure they’re safe.”
(Now I realized that I was indeed on a potential partner interview. He’s talking about ‘down the road’ and including my son in on this. Hmmm.) That’s when he wanted me to climb up in the tree stand with him. (Oh my… deep breath, here we go…) Sturdy, yes indeed. But the foot holds were farther apart than my legs would reach.. Archer assured me he’d re-space them before I climbed up there again.
My little size 6 feet were beginning to tingle from the cold as Archer suggested we should start back. He took my mittened hand and lead me over the river and through the woods, and fields and crunchy snow holes. My guess is that it was another hour of hiking before we reached the car. The hardest part for me was when I cleared that last hill and I could see the car parked down on the side of the road, but it was a still a mile through the snow to reach it. My feet had become frozen stumps that had little control. I began to clomp through the snow holes. But I clomped faster and faster as we neared the car.
It had been an adventure today to be invited into in Archer’s world. He shared some of his dreams today as we walked. I enjoyed hearing them. I could see that he was hoping I’d dream a little bit in his direction.