Caught In The Act

Caught In The Act

In culture that not only hangs its dirty laundry in public but posts a video of the soiling of it, the events of John 8:1-13 seem pretty tame.

However the motivations for the case even existing is instructive. The whole thing was a “set up” a contrivance to entrap Jesus.

The enemies of Jesus were many and powerful. The, Jews were at this time, generally divided into three sects. Pharisees, who believed in the doctrine of resurrection, and the Sadducees, who did not. The Scribes were the teachers of law and came from both the aforementioned parties.

These groups made up the leadership of the nation of Jews and were to maintain law and order for the Romans who were the ultimate civil authority at the time.

This is important because it meant that the Jews could not use the death penalty independently. All capital cases had to pass through Roman authority and then those found guilty were executed by Roman forms. The Romans apparently learned of crucifixion from the Persians. It was a method so brutal that Rome did not use it on its own citizens.

Psalm 22 which may have been written as much as 700 years before crucifixion was invented, describes in great detail and accuracy what crucifixion does to its victims. And more precisely what agonies Christ bore as He became God’s provided substitute for His chosen. (cf Eph. 1:4)

The Pharisees hoped to trap Jesus between the Law of Moses and the law of the Roman occupation.
For the trap they used a woman and I speculate that the woman was ignorant of the scheme in which she was a pawn.

Reading the passage will cause ones imagination to produce several scenarios. It seems that the perpetrators must have foreknowledge of when, where, and who. So they must have organized the event and its timing in a way best suited to their purpose and in a way that left male offender unidentified.

That being done the woman alone is subjected to public humiliation. Much like Islam which has executed a woman who was a victim of rape, the Pharisees dispense selective and partial judgement.

Like actors on a stage, they remind the bystanders of the Law of Moses as though speaking only to Jesus. This would perhaps cause them to remember Deuteronomy 22:22 which requires the stoning to death of both guilty parties.

Jesus acts as though He did not hear the Pharisees. And stooping down He writes something on the ground. I suppose it was something pertinent to the trial but we are not told what it was.

So they asked Him again to pass judgement. Feeling sure they had Him, for if He says “stone her” He will be in violation of the Roman law of occupation. And if He says. “ Let her go.” He will be in violation of the Law of Moses.

His response is, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
The results are astounding, from the oldest to the youngest in order of their ages the accusers simply melt away. One by one convicted in his own conscience of his own sin.

Jesus had already taught: Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Jesus’ challenge to the prosecution seems to be, Which of you is not guilty of the same sin? Let that person cast the first stone. Jesus is acknowledging that she does indeed, under the law, deserve to be put to death but so did every one of her accusers.

The accusers convicted but unrepentant melt away into the crowded streets of Jerusalem.

The woman is left alone with the only One present who can throw that first stone but He sends her away with the admonition; “Go and sin no more.”

I conclude she was regenerated at some point in this humiliating circumstance. And is an illustration of (Romans 8:33-34)
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”


Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning

Sunday was a day the Alan family kept in a particular way.
Hank had learned that Sunday, the first day of the week, had been set aside by Christians as a day of worship, and to commemorate the resurrection of Christ.

Hank had instructed his children of this fact early and often. And none of them had any other expectation. Going to church Sunday morning was as natural as getting up.

Phyllis was up, dressed, and practicing her piano offertory. Her (mostly correct) rendition of “Jesus Loves Me,” filled the house.

The morning was bright, clear, and Virginia’s east room was bathed in morning sunlight. She stretched luxuriantly in her bed, feeling the warmth of the sun. She was aware that she was changing; she hoped for a new improved version, as she was not satisfied with her own striking features.

Virginia was not a Christian and her Christian parents prayed for their children. And both parents lived as consistently as human beings can, so they would be a proper example to them.

Virginia did not particularly like church nor did she dislike it. But today she was happy to be going because she was sure to see Bill for a few minutes.

On that thought she leaped out of her bed.

Linda was in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Hank and Artie entered the kitchen through the shed door, their morning chores finished. She greeted them, “Good morning men, breakfast will be ready in fifteen minutes.”

Artie responded, “It sure smells good in here.” Hank gave Linda a peck on the lips and said, in his best WC Fields impersonation, “Ok my dear, we’ll be back in a flash.”

Hank kissed Phyllis on the neck on his way by the piano. Phyllis, momentarily startled, responded with a discordant clash of keys and big grin. Hank and Art continued upstairs to wash up and dress for church. They met Virginia on her way down. Hank gave her a kiss on the cheek. Virginia flinched away saying, “Dad, you’ll get me all barn smelly. I don’t want to smell like the barn in church.”

Art countered with, “No danger, with that gallon of perfume you have on.” “Oh Dad!”, she exclaimed, “Do I have too much on?”

To which Hank replied, “Don’t worry. Most of it will be blown away by the 40 mile an hour ride in the back of the truck.” Virginia pleaded, “Can’t I ride inside with you? I don’t want to get all wind blown before church.”

Art was sure that Virginia was concerned with the opinion of one particular member of the church, and that was Bill Richards. Art pondered the mystery and said nothing.

Hank assured her by saying, “We’ll work it out.”
Hank and Art continued to their clean up and shortly the family was gather at the table for breakfast. Grace was said and they chatted pleasantly. Hank asked questions in anticipation of the Sunday sermon – preparing the children for church. Questions like, “I wonder what I will learn about God today?” This was a cue to the children that they should listen with care. The topic would come up in family devotions.

When they had finished breakfast Hank led them in a prayer asking God’s blessing on the pastor and church family. At the conclusion of the prayer Linda excused herself to go change. The children cleared the table and washed up the dishes.

Linda joined the rest of her family on the front porch where they had gathered to wait for her.

Hank commented how nice all the ladies looked and assigned seating in the truck with a simple command, “The two youngest in the back.”

The old truck rattled through the tranquil Maine countryside on that perfect August morning. Each passenger was lost in their own prayers and contemplations. Phyllis was apprehensive about playing for the offertory. Linda was praying for her daughters. Virginia was occupied with her thoughts of seeing Bill. Art was just looking forward to hearing the Bible preached while he soaked up the ambiance of the ride through the natural beauty. Hank’s prayers ranged from family, to Pastor, to his service buddies and their families, to Ab, and lastly to his mom and dad.

They pulled up in front of the old church building. The original building was built back when God used George Whitefield in the 1740’s and 50’s to preach His word up and down the East coast. Many heard the Gospel massage in those days and many believed.

Many understood that God sent what was then called the “Great Awakening”, with which was God preparing citizens for the new country.

Hank parked the truck and then went to the back to lift Phyllis down from the truck.

The greetings from church members passed back and forth as they filed into the newer building which was over a hundred years old. It was a New England style white clapboard wood framed building with stained glass windows. Inside, the bell rope hangs at the right as you enter the vestibule. Straight ahead is the sanctuary with seating for something over a hundred people.

There are worn oak pews fixed to equally worn pine plank floors. Center and side aisles allow access to seating before a raised platform with a centered pulpit. There was a real pipe organ around which the church was built. The organ and pipe racks were made of solid English walnut. The organist is a frail looking woman named Ruby Oaks.

Ruby would actually die playing that organ on a Sunday morning. So peacefully did she pass into eternity that her passing was not noticed until it was time for her to play the recessional. God had played her recessional and she exited this temporal life from an earthly sanctuary to the heavenly. The reaction of the church family was amazing in its tranquility. There were a few life long friends upon whose cheeks could be seen a tear; but mostly it was a joyful resignation that Ruby had gone to be with her Lord.

But all this about Ruby passing during church is yet years in the future.

This Sunday morning she played and the congregation sang. Phyllis’s offertory was played well and finished before she had time to worry any more over it, and then the preacher preached.

Over the years, Art learned to be uncertain of himself but confident in his Bible convictions. Neither the storms of life, the infirmities of the flesh, or the winds of doctrine could move him from his confidence in God.

He would learn to temper his expectations of others and himself. He would bring those expectations into accord with what the Bible reveals about the condition of man, as it was summed up for him by Miss Netta, (a little Scots woman who was also a nurse), “We are no good and never will be – isn’t that wonderful?”

Gleanings March-April 2015

Health Report: Barbara had some follow up tests done on March 25th. The results of which revealed that the infection is once again present.  She is continuing treatment with a new medicine.  Something specifically developed in Switzerland for this problem. We thank God for His providential provisions.

Another Open Door

A new Bible Study with group of several “church” leaders in San Filipe, Quetzaltenango.

We characterize this as a rescue mission to the disillusioned and deceived.

We have been able to be involved with several groups who use  New Testament labels.  That is, they call themselves a church and their leaders pastors but by definition they are not.

Not churches and not pastors and not teaching the Bible.  They are preaching “another gospel” which is not the gospel and teaching the doctrines of man.

These groups have been deceived and fleeced by the false doctrines of Neo-Pentecostalism. They played the Pentecostal game and pretended they were gifted and called by God. But now they are burned out and can’t hype the people anymore.

The offerings fall off and so do the “pastors”.

We have not sought this aspect of the ministry directly.  It is rather a by product of our radio ministry.  There are mixed in these groups some genuine blood bought Christians, who when they hear the Word of God know it is their Father speaking.

It is to these believers we have responded and set up group studies.  Our approach has been expound the Word of God and let God’s Spirit apply it as He will.

We have seen some evidence that God is using these studies. However some reject the truth of God’s Word and prefer to go their own way.

Much like any group that hears God’s Word unmixed with God given faith.  They go away more ignorant of truth then ever.

Our goal: To be available to God for this aspect of ministry as long as He wills.  We have the expectation that He will eventually establish  Churches made up of true believers upon the foundation of His Word and for His own Glory.

We use God’s Appointed means, the Bible, and God’s Appointed method, preaching.  (For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God 1 Cor. 1:18)

Depending on God to apply the finished work of Christ to those He has called through His Word and by His Spirit.

1. “Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Tim 4:2-5)

2. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:21-24)

3.Because: “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not:the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:25-30)

Thank You For Praying

Personal: 1. Barbara’s Health 2.Near Future Plans

Ministry:  3. The New opportunities in San Filipe, Quetzaltenango 4. Jorge and his family 5. Temple Baptist Church San Juan and Xela

Radio Ministry: 6. Stations  7. Production of Programing

Pastoral Training: 8. San Filipe  9. Uspantan 10. Nahuala

11. San Antonio Suchitepequez

These Last Days: 11. The testimony of Christians  12. God sent revival to His church  13. Protection and Courage For God’s Pulpits 14. The Revival 0f God called pastors, Return to the Bible and with dependance upon God’s Spirit and Restoration of the Gospel. 15. Repentance. Turning away from trusting in fleshly means.

Saturday Night Chores at Charles Henry’s

Hank and Ab put the tools and supplies in the shed that Percy had designated.

They made their arrangements for Monday and each headed home.

Hank was thankful for the work accomplished and thought the Lord had blessed them with a good neighbor in Percy.  As he thought and thanked God for what He had done for them he began to wonder if Percy and his wife were Christians.

Then his thoughts turned toward home and his family.  Only a day away and it passed pleasantly enough.  The body aches and pains not withstanding.

He drove the truck into the shed and eased himself out of the truck.

Once in the house, greetings were given all around, and Linda seemed especially affectionate.

Art wanted to tell about the fishing outing with Bill Richards and the deer sighting.  Virginia wanted to tell about Bill helping her in the milk room with her chores.  Phyllis wanted to suggest that Virginia had a romantic interest in Bill.

Hank listened to it all and Linda brought him a cup of coffee.  They sat together and exchanged the blessings of the day.

Hank was interested in hearing the story of Charles Henry’s “dance with the heifer”.

At supper he learned that Bill was going to Charles Henry’s to help with the chores.  He asked the family, “How about we go help Bill with Charles Henry’s chores? He continued, “Many hands make light work.”

Virginia responded first, “Yes, let’s do it.”  Glances were shared around the table.  Virginia responded to the unspoken comments with, “Well it will be a way to thank him for his help today.”  Phyllis interjected, “See what I mean.”

Everyone agreed to go and as soon as their supper was done they got in the truck and drove to Charles Henry’s place.

They found Charles and Bill in the barn discussing the chores.

Charles was flabbergasted at the offer of unsolicited help.  

Hank asked them, “How will we divide the work?”  Charles offered, “We are milking 25 tonight, so maybe those who can milk should start there and I’ll show the rest how to get the hay to the manger.”

Hank concurred with the plan. “Ok. Bill, Art, and I will milk and the ladies can get the hay down.”

While the men cleaned the tie-ups, Charles Henry showed the ladies where to take the hay from, and how to open the chutes that led to the mangers.  Then he bought extra pails and stools for milking.  

Charles directed Hank to a particular cow and said, “Better do her first, she has to be hobbled and her tail tied down.” He explained, “She gets nervous hearing the others being milked so we do her first.” 

Hank asked, “Is this the one?”  “No” replied Charles, “It is that heifer on the end, we call her Matilda.”

The milking was otherwise uneventful and in 30 minutes they were carrying the milk cans to the milk-room.  They poured the cans of milk into a refrigerated bulk tank to await collection by the dairy.

The ladies had taken care of feeding and watering the bull, who had his own space just outside the barn.  

Phyllis was intimidated by his size and loud bellows.  Virginia found that he loved to be rubbed on his forehead.  He would stand still, with his eyes crossed as long as she rubbed.  It became comical as she stopped and he started chewing and moving trying to get closer to Virginia.  Then Virginia would start rubbing him again, and he would freeze and his eyes would cross.  Virginia called him “silly boy”.  

They all met back by the milk-room. Charles appeared close to tears as he thanked every one.  Bill reminded him that he would come over again the following evening.  Charles countered, “My dad will be home tomorrow all day.  We can handle it together.”

Bill replied, “I’ll check with you Monday then to see if you need me.”

As they walked out of the barn toward the truck Charles pointed at a pair of torn up overalls nailed to the wall above the door.

Charles Henry explained, “Those were the ones I was wearing.” Then he pointed out a hand lettered sign which read, “Be careful who you share your overalls with.”  Hank smiled as the images of Charles Henry waltzing with Matilda came into his mind.

Bill thanked Hank and the family for their help and commented on how well it went.

Hank said, “Come on, ride home with us.” Bill replied, “Thanks!” and jumped into the body of the truck with Virginia and Art.

The three stood leaning on the cab and enjoying the wind sweeping over them.  Virginia’s house dress whipping around in the wind finally caused her to retreat to sitting down in the shelter of the cab.  She drew the skirt of her dress down over her knees and held it there.  Bill, sensing her mild distress, took his light jacket and laid it on her to hold everything in place.  Virginia relaxed, and they talked about school starting, and their favorite teachers, and classes.

Hank pulled into the Richard’s farm driveway and let Bill out.

Virginia waved good-bye for as long as Bill was visible.

Once the family arrived home, Hank checked the barn while the rest of the family went to the kitchen to help with clean up.

Everyone took a bath and went to bed.  No one had any trouble sleeping except Virginia.

She watched the moon make its way into the sky while thinking the thoughts that a young girl thinks on an August night in Maine.

33 Artie Goes Fishing

Artie Goes Fishing with Bill 

Art was feeding the turkeys, which meant he was nearly done with his chores. He needed to take the milk cans to the milk room and maybe help Virginia if she was ready to process the milk. 

Then through the turkey shed window a movement in the yard caught his attention.

Art caught just a glimpse of Bill Richards entering the yard.  Bill was 17, a rugged, good looking farm boy.  His parents owned the farm about a quarter of a mile up the hill.  The farm consisted of more than 200 acres some of which butted the Alan property.  

Bill was an infrequent visitor as he had his own chores to do.  The Alan children were younger than him.  Virginia was the closest to his age at 14 almost 15.

His usual purpose in visiting was to borrow something his father needed, or return the last item borrowed. His father, Reggie, was a deacon in the Methodist Church. Artie had heard his father say in conversation that, “Reggie Richards met the qualifications.”  Artie did not know what that meant, but could tell it was a good thing from the way his father had said it.

Reggie and his wife Elizabeth had 4 children, including Bill.  Nancy was a year younger than Bill.  Edith was 3 years older than Bill, and had cared for the Alan children at times when Linda’s war work required her to stay at the boot plant over time.  Nowadays Edith was away at university most of the time. The oldest boy, Reggie Junior, was 4 years older than Bill.  Reggie Junior was married and helped with the Boy Scouts. 

Bill had come today to see if Artie wanted to go fishing with him.  Bill went to the house and knocked on the door.  Linda responded, “Come in.”

Bill cracked the door enough to get just his head in.  Bill greeted Linda, “Hi Mrs. Alan, I’m going fishing at Roseanne Brook and was wondering if Art wanted to go with me.”

Linda replied, “Hello Billy, how is your mom?”  “She is fine now, thank you.”  Linda asked, (referring to the fishing) “How long do you think you will be gone?”  Bill replied, “About three hours including the walk down and back.  I have to be back to milk tonight.” 

Linda said, “Thank you, Billy for asking me first.  Artie should be almost done with his chores and when he finishes, and if he wants to, he may go.”

Bill thanked Linda and pulled his head back out of doors, closing the door quietly as he turned toward the barn.   Bill walked by the entrance to the barn and went to where he had left his fishing gear.  His plan was not to let Artie know where he was going if Artie was not allowed to go.  

That issue settled, Billy retrieved his fishing pole and was ready to ask Artie if he wanted to go.

Virginia had been in the separator room to process the morning milking.  Not finding any milk she went to the barn to check on Artie.

Artie was now finished his chores until evening, but was checking behind himself making sure that he had not forgotten anything.

Virginia and Art met just outside the “tie up” in the 20 foot wide corridor that ran the 65 foot length of the barn. Virginia teased him a bit with, “I came to see if you fell into the manure spreader.” (The spreader was parked under the floor of the cow stalls.  Trap doors in the floor allowed the manure to be dropped from the “tie up” directly into the spreader.)

Each picked up a can of milk and headed for the milk room. 

Art planned to help Virginia crank the separator. Art could not do it by himself.  He was not tall enough or strong enough.  He also knew that it was hard for Virginia to operate the separator by herself.  The hand crank was long enough to allow two people to operate it.

Bill was about to step in the entry way. He was coming from the sunlit yard.  Virginia and Artie were moving from the relative darkness of the barn to the brighter entry way.

All three of them were blinded for a moment by the change of light, and collided. Virginia’s reaction was to protect the milk.  

Art stumbled around a bit, but kept his footing and the milk was safe.

Bill knew even before his eyes completely adjusted that he had bumped into a girl. The event had ignited some strange expectations and he was surprised to discover that it was Virginia with whom he had collided.

Virginia on the other hand was quite sure that it was Bill with whom she had collided.

Bill sputtered, “I’m sorry, I, I didn’t know I was here, I mean I didn’t know it was you.  I mean I didn’t know you were here.  Are you all right?”  Art thought, “He must have hit his head.”

Virginia responded rather sharply, “I guess you better watch where you’re going Billy Richards.”  Billy took the milk can from Virginia and as he did, he said, “I told you I’m sorry. It was just an accident. I could not see you.  I came to get Art, to go fishing with me.”  

On hearing that Art opened his mouth to say something, but did not get the chance before Virginia retorted, “You’ll have to ask my mother and she will not put her youngest child at risk by letting him get close to water with you.”

Bill responded somewhat triumphantly, “She already has.”

Virginia’s mouth was open but nothing was coming out.

Bill knew that the chores must be done first. He calmly took hold of one handle of the milk can that Art was carrying.  This left Virginia empty handed and Artie nearly so for Bill was taking all the weight of both cans. Virginia moved up the passageway ahead of them and opened the door to the milk room for Bill. Stepping into the room Bill put the milk cans on the table, then assembled the separator and poured in the raw milk.

After putting a large pitcher under one spout and the milk can under another he started turning the crank. In a few seconds cream was coming from the one spout and milk from the other.

Bill started using both hands and the centrifugal drums of the separator made a higher pitched sound as Bill turned the crank faster.  Artie was amazed and wondered, “Will I ever be that strong?”

In less than 20 minutes the milk was processed and in the cooler.

Bill said, “Come on Art get your gear.  We need to get to Roseanne Brook. The trout are biting.”

Artie was off like a shot to collect his gear.  Bill turned to Virginia, who spoke first in a near whisper, “I’m sorry too.”  Bill confused said, “OK?.

Bill turned to follow Artie, then turned back in Virginia’s direction and saw her following him with her eyes. Then with a warm smile she said, “Thank You. See you again soon.”  Her smile vanished as she thought, “That is a stupid thing to say.  This is Billy Richards, not Clark Gable.”

Bill took a step, but missed the door way.  He ricocheted off the door frame and stumbled out of the shed.  He kept walking and did not look back.

Virginia mused and a subtle smile appeared on her face. She was enjoying the feeling of somehow being empowered.

Bill and Art met in the barn yard and Bill strode off in the direction of the lake. It was all down hill to the lake.  The tree line at the base of the long gradual slope canceled the railroad tracks that bordered the lake.  (Maranacook Lake, one of the 2000 or so, lakes in Maine)  It is about 7 miles long and a mile wide at the widest point and thought to be, at the time, 150 feet deep at the deepest point.  As they walked, Winthrop village could be seen on their right nestled on the South east shore of the lake.  Directly across the lake on the long slope rising from the lake parts of a road could be seen as it skirted the far shore.  A few moored boats bobbing in the sunlight could be seen.

Bill mentioned to Artie about his new shoes. Art looked down at Bill’s feet. Bill recited the virtues of his new BASS moccasins.   Bill was quite proud of them and mentioned, not incidentally, that he had bought them with his own money.

They headed in as straight a line as possible for the brook which was about a mile away.

They crossed corn field, hay fields, meadows, and finally reached the woods.

As they entered the strip of hardwood trees that bordered the railroad right of way, the shade closed around them and a blue jay announced their presence.  They walked with a cacophony of late summer smells swimming about them. The woodsy perfume changed subtly with every few steps as their movements changed the alchemy of the air they breathed.  The crunch and rustle of twigs and old leaves under foot had replaced the muffled thud of walking in the field.  

Art could see the sun reflecting back from the lake as it flickered through the trees.  Almost at the same moment he could see 5th cove and then the snapping turtles sunning themselves there.

They continued past the cove, then climbed the railroad bed, crossed the tracks, and down the other side to where the brook passed under the railroad right of way.  

Bill worked down the edge of the brook with some difficulty.  Moving from rock to rock, the under growth catching on his clothes.  

Art was stymied with his fishing pole snarled in the bushes. Bill saw his problem and laid his pole down came to rescue Art.  Bill, carrying Art’s pole, worked his way back to his own pole.  He took both poles in one hand and looked for a place from which they could fish.

Art was catching up, as Bill made a little hop to a rock that was just out of stepping distance. His foot slipped on the rock.  In an instant Bill was knee deep in Roseanne Brook, his new shoes getting initiated into service. Art wanted to laugh but thought better of it and waited to see what would happen next.

Bill did not say a word, nor try to get out of the water. He just turned in Art’s direction and instructed him to walk to where Bill was standing. Bill carried Art to a good spot from which to fish. Bill also found a spot to stand that allowed him to float a fly down stream.

Bill was feeling a little down hearted because he thought he had probably scared the trout out of biting.

Meanwhile Artie had tied a fly to his line and then with a flicking motion, dropped the fly behind a large rock just down stream.  He payed out the line slowly, watching intently for the fly to drift into sight.  No sooner was Art able to see the fly than he saw a grayish shadow beneath it and a small splash as a trout broke the surface.

32 At the Site – Hank’s First Look

Ab pulled his truck to the side of the narrow black toped road, and Hank stopped behind him. They met in front of Ab’s truck. The overgrown outline of a tote road could be seen on the left hand side of the road. Hank had a tax map in hand that showed the boundary lines of properties and the names of the registered owners. He also had a topographical map of the section which showed the lay of the land. The physical features could help confirm that there were in the right place.

They checked the depth of the ditches to see if they could get the trucks off the road without modifying the entrance. The road was relatively flat at that spot. The area was a collection of bogs and ridges with a few flat places joining them together.

The maps showed that the old tote road was near the North boundary of the property. And that the property on their north boundary was owned by Percy Burgess.

It was obvious that Percy’s land had been used for hay. But the scattering of saplings on the boarders of the field gave evidence that the field had not been hayed in a couple of years.

They walked north on the black top and encountered an entrance to the field that had a culvert. This is where the hay trucks and machinery could enter the field. Hank glanced at the map and reported, “The map shows this to be 26 acas.” Ab studied the field responded, “It looks bigger than that to me.” He followed with, “Lets check the North side of my lot, someone may have been helping themselves to some easy pickings. ”

They walked back to the edge of Ab’s lot. As they did they encountered tire tracks and a bit further on stumps. There were trees cut recently and the stumps were close to the ground.

Hank observed, “Well whoever cut these trees seemed to be mindful that there would be a mower in here at some point.”

Ab mused. “I wonder if Percy was hard up for wood or just expanding his field?” Hank suggested, “He may have just been recovery was had been overgrown.”

Ab said, “We better check the boundary pin before we go any further.” Checking the map they confirmed there had been a pin in place.

They did some pawing around in the underbrush but they were able to locate the pin. Ab said, “Well it’s clear to me that those trees were on Percy’s land and there is another 15 foot swath that he could cut.” Looks like he might get 8 cord of good fire wood out of that area.

Hank offered, “What if we go talk to Percy and let him know we will be working up here and see if he would mind us entering through his field. Maybe we could use his field to yard our wood. In exchange we could cut this edge back to the boundary for him.” Ab replied, “Let’s go see if Percy is home.”

As they approached the vehicles Ab Said, “Let’s take yours and we can let the old Reo rest.” Without further exchange the climbed into Hank’s truck and head down the road to locate the Burgess place.

They drove down the road about a quarter of a mile and encountered a mail box with “P. Burgess” painted on the side. Pulling into the driveway they beheld a strange collection of buildings, vehicles, and machines. Some had been there so long that there were trees growing up through them.

Ab pointed to a partially disassembled tractor parked, (may be piled is a better description) beside one the sheds. And said, “There are the parts I need to get my Chalmers going.” He was referring to his own tractor that had been idle for two years. Parts were impossible to get during the war and cannibalism was the only way to keep things working.

As they climbed down from the truck the scanned the yard for dogs. Seeing none they walked slow toward the house, looking for the path that the family used.

The path became obvious. It weaved around two abandoned vehicles and a hay trailer. They did not speak because they were concentrating on not stepping in anything or tripping over anything.

As they came abreast of the windowless cab of an old truck a dog suddenly appeared inside the cab. He lunged and snarled, barking like something possessed. The dog’s teeth only inches from Hank’s face. Hank’s reflexes where working well and he jumped away instantly covering the three feet between himself and Ab. The resulting collision with Ab knocked him off balance and he stumbled for a step or two trying to recover his footing.

His extended his left foot which happened on a cow-pie and turned what seemed to be a sure recovery into a barn yard catastrophe. His foot slid through the cow-pie and Ab went down. Baptizing his new overalls in barn yard goo. His hat sailed under the trailer and Hank hurried to collect it hoping to salvage some of Ab’s dignity.

Percy Burgess appeared at the door to the house, he had seen most of what happen and was fighting not to laugh at Ab’s distress. Hank too was having a tough time controlling himself. Ab however did not try to control himself but let a string of impolite words go. He promised the dog a home in a hot place. He thought to include the owner too but fortunately he had control enough not to voice to it.

Hank spoke to Percy even as Ab was still muttering as he got to his feet. Percy ignored Hank for the moment and said, “Most people don’t make it that far before they turn around and go back to their vehicle.”

At the sound of Percy’s voice the dog went quiet and disappeared from view. Apparently laying in wait for the next stranger who entered the yard.

“If you come by here again use the second drive.” He said pointing down the road. He continued, “That will bring you right up around to the front of the house. No cow flaps there.”

He looked at Ab and Said, “I’m sorry about that but it really was entertaining.”

Hank, chuckling glanced at Ab. Seeing the fire still blazing in Ab’s eyes for some reason made it all the funnier. Then Percy started laughing and laughed so hard he had to hold on the door frame to keep from falling down. Ab looked back and forth between the Hank and Percy Then said, “Damn fools!” Then a smile crept in, then he laughed. The three of them standing there laughing got Mrs. Burgess’ attention. She came to the window and look out, then just shook her head and disappeared from view.

Percy, once again able to speak said, “I’d invite you boys in but I don’t think my Mrs. would appreciate the way your dressed.” He chuckled alone at his own joke.

He followed up with, “Now what can I do for you?”

Ab, spoke first and apologized to Percy for his words. Percy responded, “I can’t blame you I’m sure it was a shock and I hope you have no ill effects from the fall.”

Ab replied through a laugh, “I’m fine, I just hate loosing my dignity in front of strangers.”

Hank took up the conversation and began to explain why the had come.

Percy replied, “Lets go down at take a look at things so we all know exactly what we are talking about.” He continued, “I’ll meet you down there in a few minutes.”

On the way back to the property they stopped at a brook that ran under the road to let Ab wash up.

Hank said, “Ab I can tell you one thing, I’ve never seen an entrance like that in my life.” Ab replied in mock annoyance, “All right, all right enough is enough.”

They continued to Percy’s field and pulled in and out of the way so Percy could get off the road too.

As they waited and chatted they spotted a white tailed deer enter the field. Ab counted the points on the antlers. “Eight point buck 180 to 200 pounds.” Hank interjected “That is a nice deer. Like to see him on opening day.”

Ab responded, “I’ve got one over at my place about the same size. He has been in the garden a time or two. I’ve got plans for him come November.”

Suddenly the buck raised his head a looked North Ab and Hank tried to look where he was looking. And they saw a truck coming down the road toward them and assumed it was Percy. They looked back at the buck and he was already eating again seemingly unconcerned. They kept watching to see what would happen when Percy turned into the field.

Artie’s Adventures

Hank and Ab Day 1

Hank loved the mornings and had been up reading his Bible and praying, when he heard Linda moving around in the kitchen. He checked the time, it was 5:10. He thought, “Ab will be here shortly.”

Hank continued reading until the smell of the coffee beckoned him away.  As he entered the kitchen, he realized he was happy. The things he had missed so much were all there; his wife busy making breakfast, the warmth of the room, and the aromas. He thought out loud, “Life just does not get any better than this.” He kissed Linda good morning and poured himself a half cup of coffee.

As he did he predicted, “Ab will be here in 3 minutes.”

Hank knew this because Ab’s 1936 Reo truck could be heard a quarter mile away.

Linda poured a cup of fresh coffee, and set it, the sugar bowl, and cream at Ab’s usual place.

Ab’s truck wheezed to a stop in the driveway. A moment later, Ab let himself in the front door without knocking.

Hank said, “I’m going to have to fix that lock.” Ab scoffed, “That door has never been locked in the hundred years this farm has been here.”

Linda greeted him, “Good morning Mr. Dunn, your coffee is ready.”

Ab replied, “Bless you child. I’ve been following the smell of it since I turned off the Beaver Brook Road.” Nodding to Hank, he moved to the table without further invitation. There followed the tink-tink-tink sound of spoon on cup as Ab stirred in his cream and sugar.

Ab looked right at home. He wore rimless glasses that protruded above his beard highlighting his lively blue eyes. His long sleeved cotton shirt was all but covered by denim overalls. His well worn work boots, showed they were not “work” in name only.  All was topped off by a battered straw hat, now resting on one knee of his crossed legs.

“Good Coffee Linda,” he said appreciatively. Linda acknowledged the compliment with, “Thank you Mr. Dunn. It’s all part of the *Alan Farm* service.”

Ab turned to Hank and said, “I saw three skunks on the way over here, and it is only the 23rd of August. They don’t usually start moving around much until late October.” He continued while leaning toward Hank, “Almost hit one of the damned things.” Followed by, “Sorry Linda.” to apologize for using the word “damned”. Hank said, “It is a Bible concept but never applies to four legged skunks.”

Linda began serving up the eggs, bacon, fried potatoes, and toast. Hank topped off his cup and sat down. Linda joined them. Hank asked God’s blessing and thanked Him for the provision He had made for them in Christ.

When grace ended Ab attacked his breakfast giving out compliments with every bite.

Ab’s wife had died about a year before, and he was on his own.

It was not that Ab could not cook for himself. He could and had in fact, cooked professionally for logging camps. He was very good at getting the food on the table; however, it was pretty much flavorless when he did.

Hank told Ab their skunk story and about Dr. Chenry giving the skunk a sedative, and Phyllis getting sprayed, and her tomato juice bath. Ab laughed, and added tongue in cheek, “I think Doc Chenry is a veterinarian.”

Hank explained, “Doc was here checking on Art’s finger.” Hank went on to recount that event. Ab questioned, “Art is a little young to be using power tools, isn’t he?” Linda interjected, “He made me and his sisters some lovely shelves. More coffee Mr. Dunn?” She poured half a cup without waiting for a response.

Virginia came into the kitchen just then. She went to her mom and gave her a good morning hug. Then she gave each of the men a peck on the cheek, and said in a voice full of morning huskiness, “ Good morning.”

Ab, in surprise, said, “You’ve grown girl.” Hank added, “That’s what happens when you feed them regular.” Ab was still staring at Virginia and asked, “How old are you now?” Virginia, confused by the attention, glanced at her mom for reassurance and responded, “Fourteen.” Then feeling uncomfortable, she stepped behind her mom. She busied herself with organizing the counter for the breakfast that would follow.

Ab continued, “That’s what I thought, but then seeing you I thought I was wrong.” He then added through a broad grin, “I know there is supposed to be the first time for everything but I did not want that to happen today.”

As the men were finishing breakfast Phyllis came into the room. She went straight to Ab and climbed up on his lap. She let her head fall back against him and snuggled down. He slid an arm around her and said, “Good morning Stinky.” Phyllis turned to meet Virginia’s gaze. Virginia said, “I did not say a thing.” Phyllis then shifted her eyes to her father, who said, “I never used the word ‘Stinky.’”

Ab chuckled at having stumbled into a family moment. He rubbed his beard on Phyllis’ cheek and squeezed her. She protested slightly but stayed on Ab’s lap until it was time for him to leave.

As they stood to leave, Art came into the kitchen fully dressed but with his sweatshirt wrong side out. He greeted Ab with “Good morning Mr. Dunn”, and stuck out his hand. Ab responded to this formality by shaking Art’s hand and saying, “Good morning to you Master Alan.” Ab held on to Artie’s hand and rolled it over to examine Art’s finger. Ab commented, “Your trigger finger is too short. You’ll never get in the Army.” To which Hank responded in a grave tone, “We hope and pray he is never needed.”

Phyllis contributed, “I think *Master* *Alan* better learn to dress himself.”

Art did not respond. His dad had his full attention.

Then Hank said Art “Remember, don’t milk Lucy. I want to dry her off.”

Hank, trying break away said, “Goodbye. See you tonight.”

Ab went to his truck and after a great deal of coaxing brought the engine to life. Hank started the old Ford and moved in behind Ab. The two-truck convoy rattled and shook its way out of the driveway and started on the 40-minute drive to the location where they planned to work.

The family watched until Ab’s truck disappeared over the first hill.

Art lingered a moment taking in the morning view; watching the light of the late summer sunrise as it began taking its foothold on the day. And as he did he noticed a few leaves were already in their fall colors. It was a melancholy reminder to Art that summer was ending.