Tag: Flash Fiction

Adirondack Bear Tale #8: Campfire BBQ Chicken

Grandma Gilbert’s Campfire BBQ Chicken

Campfire BBQ ChickenIt was a nice cool Adirondack evening.  Therefore, Grandma Gilbert decided to make campfire BBQ chicken using the outside fireplace behind the camp. This way they could be outside to enjoy the cool evening air. There would also be less mess to clean up in the kitchen after dinner.

Grandpa started a wood fire in the cinder block fireplace and kept feeding it seasoned beech wood. Soon, there was a nice bed of red-hot coals. Grandma set the old cast iron skillet containing a little oil, some seasonings, and the chicken down on the steel grate Grandpa had set across the cinder blocks of the fireplace. In just a few minutes, the chicken was sizzling merrily away. It soon began to smell really good. While Grandma watched the chicken, Grandpa went into the camp to prepare the rest of dinner.

In the woods behind the camp,  a passing black bear lifted his nose into the air. His keen sense of smell had discovered the tantalizing aroma of cooking chicken, BBQ sauce, and wood smoke. As a result of his discovery, the bear changed his direction of travel, and started to follow the wonderful smell that drifted along on the evening breeze. Consequently, he soon found himself coming out of the woods … right behind Grandma Gilbert, who was busily tending to the chicken.

Grandpa Gilbert stepped out of the camp to check on how Grandma was doing with the chicken. He had been in the kitchen preparing corn-on-the-cob and a tossed salad to compliment the BBQ chicken.

“How’s the chicken coming, Marjorie?” he asked.

“Just fine Henry,” Grandma answered.

As Grandpa turned to go back into the camp, he noticed a movement out of the corner of his eye. Turning to see what it was, he saw the bear coming out of the woods and making its way toward the fireplace and Grandma.

“Marjorie!” he called. “There is a black bear coming up behind you, Come in the camp. Hurry!”

Grandma turned and saw the bear, and quickly made her way toward the porch. Then she stopped, and looked back.

“Come on, Marjorie. What are you doing?” Grandpa called. Grandma was headed back toward the fireplace and the chicken. “Never mind the chicken. Get in the camp!”

“Not without my chicken,” she replied. Still wearing the oven mitt on her hand, she ran back to the fireplace, arriving just seconds before the bear. Grabbing the skillet by the handle, she let out a with a loud, “Shoo!”  Then turning quickly, Grandma made a bee-line for the porch. In a second, she was up on the porch and in the camp. Grandpa promptly shut the door.

As a result, the BBQ chicken was safe. The bear, however, was a bit miffed and sniffed around on the porch for several minutes. Finally, the bear figured out that the great smelling campfire BBQ chicken was now beyond his reach. The bear reluctantly made his way back into the woods, continuing his search for his supper.

The campfire BBQ chicken, corn-on-the-cob, and tossed salad made a wonderful dinner.  In addition, the rest of the family got to enjoy hearing the tale of how Grandma rescued the chicken from the hungry black bear many times over the years.

Check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, on Amazon.com.

Adirondack Bear Tale #7: The Demise of Old Three-toes!

The Demise of Old Three-toes.

Old three-toes was a very grouch bear.Three-toes was a grouchy, old bear. He was also big for a black bear. Folks around Burketown who occasionally spotted him estimated he might weigh between 450 and 500 pounds. This is fairly large for an Adirondack black bear. You knew when old three-toes was poking around from his distinctive tracks. His left fore-paw was missing the two outer toes, leading of course, to his nickname. Nobody really knew how he’d lost those two front toes. Speculation was abundant. Maybe he’d lost them in a fight with another bear, or perhaps a near miss with some kind of bear trap. Whatever the cause, it almost certainly contributed to his sour disposition.

A couple of camps down Burketown Road from my grandparent’s camp and in the direction of Burke’s Marina, lived a friend of the family. A local contractor and handyman, he’d built the camp belonging to my other grandparents on the lot next to ours near the end of the road. For the sake of this story, I will call him Mike.

As of late, old three-toes had become the frequent topic of discussion up and down the road.  Folks spotted him on the prowl regularly and he’d been getting in to some real mischief, causing damage to camps, screen windows, front porches, etc. So far nothing serious had occurred, but many felt it was simply a matter of time.

On this particular morning, Mike got up early to go fishing. And, living alone, began cooking himself breakfast. He’d opened the front door to his camp to allow the cool, crisp morning air to pass through the screen door. Unfortunately, this also allowed the smell of cooking bacon to waft its way out through the screen door, and be carried along on the same morning breeze. The tantalizing smell of cooking bacon proved to be irresistible to old three-toes who happened to be passing by. The bear turned, and followed the enticing aroma right up to Mike’s camp screen door.

Three-toes decided that the screen door was not going to keep him from getting to that delicious smelling bacon!  Mike heard the crashing sound of three-toes clawing right through the screen door. He turned in time to see the big bear coming down the short hallway to his kitchen area. Mike quickly retreated from the kitchen area and in the opposite direction. He made his way to his den where he kept a loaded 12-gauge shotgun on his rifle rack.

Mike grabbed the 12-gauge and headed back to the kitchen  where three-toes was making quite a mess of things. He yelled at the bear first, hoping to scare it off. He did not really want to shoot the bear. Unfortunately, three-toes was having none of it. This was now his bacon and, as far as that went, it was also now his kitchen. Mike simply had no choice. Taking careful aim with the shotgun, he fired.

While many in the Burketown area were saddened by the death of three-toes, a lot of people slept a bit more soundly at night. It is an unfortunate thing when black bears lose their fear of people. It never turns out well for the bear.

I hope this story touched you, and reminds you why it is so important to not feed the bears. While black bears can indeed be cute, they are still wild animals.

And, please take the time to check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot.

 

Adirondack Bear Tale #6: Aunt Betty Swats a Bear

Toasting Marshmallows at Uncle Wagner’s Camp!

Aunt Betty swats a black bearOur camp sat near the end of Burketown Road near the Miller’s old camp and Jack Camp’s old place. Jack Camp, a permanent resident, was the local coroner and constable, and kept an eye on things for those of us who owned summer camps in the area.

Across the road was a camp that  belonged to my Great Uncle Wagner and Aunt Betty. Uncle Wagner was my Grandfather Klippel’s older brother. My Nanny and Grandpa had a camp back down the road, closer to Burke’s Marina. Uncle Wagner’s camp has changed ownership since those days.

This particular evening there were several younger family members sitting around the stone-encircled campfire in front of Uncle Wagner’s camp. There was myself, my younger brother, three cousins who were all boys, and two other cousins who were both girls. We probably ranged in ages from 8 to 15. And, we were having a grand time toasting marshmallows on sticks we had cut earlier from a nearby Beech tree.

It was funny how some of us liked to see the marshmallows blaze, preferring them charred on the outside and melted on the inside. I preferred mine golden brown on the outside and warm in the middle. Therefore, I would concentrate a bit harder than some on the task at hand, selecting just the right nest of red hot coals, and turning the marshmallow constantly to get a nice even golden-brown color. I guess that is why I was the last one to notice that a black bear had come out of the woods, no doubt attracted by the enticing smell of burning marshmallows. I guess Aunt Betty must have heard the ruckus as we all started yelling and scattered to give the bear plenty of room.

Aunt Betty to the Rescue!

Aunt Betty was a short, stocky woman and not afraid of much that I can remember. Uncle Wagner, Aunt Betty, Grandpa and Nanny Klippel were sitting at the kitchen table in the camp playing Rummy 500. This was a favorite Adirondack evening pastime in our families. In addition, we also regularly enjoyed playing Pitch, Cribbage, and Pinochle. Family card games were a regular event. Our parents were across the road in our camp spending a quiet evening reading. I guess they probably needed a break from my brother and me. We could sometimes be a handful!

Aunt Betty exploded through the screen door of their camp armed with a straw broom. The black bear being young, maybe a little older than a yearling, did not know what he had unwittingly stumbled into. He just wanted marshmallows, but what he found was more like a stirred-up hornet’s nest. Wielded by Aunt Betty, the sweeping end of that broom attacked that poor bear from all angles at once and Betty let loose with a barrage of “Shoos, Scrams, and Git’s.” The bear quickly decided the marshmallows were definitely not worth the trouble, and took off just as fast as he could back into the woods letting loose with bawling sounds that were a cross between a bellow and a whine.

All Well that Ends Well!

All us kids were safe and sound. But, that incident ended any marshmallow toasting for the night as we were herded into their camp. Our parents, alarmed at the sudden change in the sounds coming from across the road, had appeared just as the bawling bear disappeared into the dark woods and quickly escorted us back across the road. We were soon settled in for the night up in the loft. I don’t think that bear ventured into our region of the Adirondack Park ever again.

 

 

 

Adirondack Bear Tale #5: Black Bears and Birds

Uncle Ken, Black Bears, and Birds!

birdsWhat do black bears and birds have in common, you might ask?  Well, let me tell you. Besides the fact that they both love birdseed, they had my uncle in common.

Klippels tend to be stubborn. My grandfather was stubborn, my mother was stubborn, her sister was stubborn, and my uncle, Kenneth Klippel, was stubborn. Now, that’s a lot of stubbornness! Mostly, it was stubborn in a good way … the kind of stubbornness that allows one to stick to their guns and get things done.

Uncle Ken also enjoyed watching birds. Upon his retirement, he moved from Binghamton, NY to Raquette Lake where he settled into the camp he and my grandfather had built many years earlier. One of the first things he did was set up a bird feeder in the front yard. Nothing fancy. Just one of those shepherd’s hook-type metal supports with a bird feeder hanging from it. That is when the problems began!

The first clue that this would become problematic was when he awoke early one morning to some strange noises on his screened-in front porch. Upon investigation, he discovered a young black bear had broken into his screen-in porch and was busily munching away on the large bag of wild bird seed Uncle Ken had stored there. Luckily, he was able to shoo the bear away. Subsequently, he began storing the bird seed in the old outhouse that had long been converted into a tool shed. Things seemed quiet after that and the problem seemed to be taken care of. At least, until the next spring!

The Battle of the Bird Feeder

One evening, Uncle Ken returned from a fishing excursion into the north part of Raquette Lake. He and a few friends had left early in the morning to go fishing for Lake Trout.  When they returned, and he pulled in to park at his camp, he noticed the bird-feeder support was pushed over, the bird feeder was pretty badly smashed up, and the bird seed was, of course, gone. Nonplussed, he simply went into Old Forge and got a better support and a new bird feeder. The next day, the new birder feeder was in place, and his happy little feathered-friends were back. This however, was not the end of the story. Not by a long shot! The battle of the bird feeder quickly escalated and was waged over a period of several years.

Several times the bird feeder was raided by a black bear and the bird seed eaten. Each time the bird feeder had to be replaced and the mounting system became more substantial each time.

The Battle continues …

birdsI still remember the year he’d tried to use a 4×4 post. Uncle Ken had dug a hole, set the 4×4 in it, and poured concrete around it for a strong base. I was staying at our camp for a week that summer and got to observer the construction project first hand. This time he’d seen the bear, and it was a big one. He was headed out for the day when he discover the bear in his front yard. The bear simply snapped the 4×4 over and began busily munching down on the bird seed that had once been in the now mangled bird feeder.

Uncle Ken, angry now, went in to get his shotgun. The bear was gone when he returned. I guess the bear had decided that he’d over-stayed his welcome. Uncle Ken later told me that he really wasn’t going to shoot the bear, he just wanted to scare it off. Later that afternoon, he headed back to Old Forge for more concrete and a steel pole. “Something like a basketball goal post,” as he put it. When I headed back to Tennessee, he was out there re-digging the hole for the new “steel-pole” bird feeder base he was putting in.

The battle is finally won … the birds lose!

The next year I returned, only to notice that there was no bird feeder in place. Intrigued, I continued up to our camp, unloaded my gear, and then walked down the road to Uncle Ken’s camp to get, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story!”  Uncle Ken was sitting on his screened-in porch when I walked up. I asked about the “goal-post” bird feeder. Uncle Ken just shook his head. He’d come home after a trip to Warrensburg to visit with a lady he’d become friendly with, only to find the metal post pushed over, the bird feeder demolished, and of course, the bird seed gone.

“The bear just pushed the damn thing over, pulling the concrete base right out of the ground,” he explained.

“At least, the bear had to work for it,” I observed, trying hard not to grin. I did know how stubborn he was and how much he hated losing, especially to a bear. “Are you going to try again?” I asked.

Uncle Ken again shook his head. “Nope!  If I do keep this going, eventually I will end up having to shoot that damn bear … and I don’t want to do that. Might upset the neighbors!”  I nodded, understanding that under his gruff exterior, he really had a big heart and he really didn’t want to shoot that bear. Uncle Ken went on, ” I guess the only real losers here are the birds … but they’ll be alright.”

 

If you enjoyed this story, check our the other Adirondack Bear Tale posts on my blog, or my military action/adventure novel, Serpents Underfoot, available at Amazon.com!

Adirondack Bear Tale #4: Donny Trees A Bear!

Donny Trees A Bear

donnyIt gets dark early in the Adirondacks. The night’s fire was just about burned out with only a few glowing embers left in the stone fireplace. The two young boys had already brushed their teeth and were ready for bed. They unzipped the mosquito netting and entered the large canvas cabin tent their father had pitched on a wooden tent platform followed by Donny, their 35-lb Spanish pointer. Zipping the netting behind them, the boys crawled into their sleeping bags. They had air mattresses underneath the sleeping bags and were comfortably settled in for the night. Donny settled down between them. Soon all three were sound asleep. Full days in the crisp Adirondack air made for good sleeping.

A little while later, their parents entered the tent and prepared for bed. Their sleeping bags were laid out on canvas folding cots and air mattresses. It was also a very comfortable arrangement. Soon all five were contentedly sleeping away. Tomorrow would be another new and glorious day. The boy’s grandfather was going to take them fishing over in the northern part of Raquette Lake in his beautiful Thompson Chris-Craft boat. It promised to be a grand adventure.

 

Sometime during the night, Donny awoke and let out a terrible growl. The two boys and their parents instantly sat up in their sleeping bags.

What was that?

There was another growl from Donny, and he was up like a flash. A second later he had torn through the mosquito netting and took off like a shot; snarling and growling like a wild animal protecting its young. Suddenly, there was another growl, and it wasn’t Donny. The boy’s dad was now up with his flashlight unzipping the mosquito netting to see what was going on while the rest of the family dug for their flashlights. Everyone kept a flashlight handy just in case. They could hear the dog barking wildly just a few yards away from the tent.

A few seconds later all four flashlight beams were shining in the direction of the growling and snarling dog. Donny was at the base of an old rotten beech tree about 30 feet from the tent. He was growling and barking ferociously at something up in the tree. Raising the flashlights beams a bit revealed a big black bear. The bear had scrambled up the old rotten trunk to get away from the crazy dog. The tree and its bark were rotten enough that the bear’s claws could not get a good purchase. The bear would begin to slide down the tree which would cause Donny to renew his barking and growling frenzy. This, in turn, would cause the bear to scramble a bit higher; only to start slipping again.

The bear, much bigger then the dog that was barking at him, could easily jump down and deal with the barking dog. Fortunately for Donny, the bear did not decide to do this.The barking, scrambling, and slipping went on for several minutes. Suddenly the bear completely lost its grip on the tree and tumbled to the ground. Rolling over the bear jumped to its feet and took off into the north woods with Donny right behind him, barking and growling as he went. The boys and their parents called after Donny.

Donny, Come! Donny, Come here!

But it was no use. Donny, chasing the black bear to who knows where, was long gone. Eventually, the two boys and their parents went back to bed. They wondered if they would ever see their dog again.
Donny was not back the next morning when the boys left to go fishing with their grandfather. He was not back that afternoon when they got back from their fishing trip to the northern part of Raquette Lake. That evening, the boy’s Dad finished patching the hole in the mosquito and still, Donny had not returned.

But later that evening, as the family sat down for a supper of Ravioli, bread and butter, and some of Mom’s homemade raspberry cobbler, Donny came trotting up to the picnic table with a delighted look on his face. In fact, it looked like he was grinning from ear to ear! Donny was utterly covered with Adirondack marsh mud, pieces of twigs and leaves, and he smelled like Adirondack swamp water. Donny had also worked up quite an appetite during his chase and was darn hungry! But, he was undoubtedly a hero … having saved the cooler from being raided by the prowling black bear.

Did you like this Adirondack Bear Tale?

If so, check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, a military action adventure / counter-terrorism thriller available at Amazon.com!

Adirondack Bear Tale #3: A Trip to the Dump!

The Dump at Raquette Lake. A Friday Night Hot Spot!

dumpIt’s Friday evening in the Adirondacks. So, what do you do? What kind of entertainment venues were available to vacationers in the north woods? One of our family favorites was to go to the dump! Yep! I am serious. We would go to the dump to watch the bears. It was quite popular among those in the know. The bears would come out in the early evenings to feed on all the delightful morsels we humans would throw away.

The Raquette Lake Dump was located a mile or so down an old dirt road that headed out of Raquette Lake Village and into the north woods wilderness. This road was initially an old rail bed for the private railroad line owned by the Vanderbilts. The Vanderbilts built an Adirondack great camp, Camp Sagamore, near Raquette Lake. They and their guests would take a private train from Utica, New York up to Raquette Lake. There they would board a boat and steam across South Bay to head up the South Inlet. A mile or so up South Inlet, at the falls, where it became impassable, they would board a stagecoach and travel along a road that ran past the Vanderbilt’s power-house and a small dam, to the smaller private lake South Inlet flowed from. This was their destination. They would begin to enjoy their stay at Camp Sagamore.

But, I digress. This is supposed to be a bear tale.

This particular Friday evening my brother and I were headed to the dump with our grandparents. They had an AMC Hornet, and we sat in the back. We turned down the old dirt road that lead to the dump. Being an old railway bed, it was a pretty straight shot. As we approached the dump, my brother and I were excited to see that there were already several black bears, an assortment of ages and sizes, out prowling around among the garbage bags looking for tasty tidbits.

My Grandfather pulled up pretty close because he had a bag of trash to add to the pile. Grandpa told us all to stay in the car. He would throw the garbage out and then we would back up a bit to sit and watch the bears. Grandpa got out and retrieved the bag from the trunk and started toward the piled bags of garbage. He wanted to get close enough to throw the bag onto the pile.

One mid-sized bear spotted Grandpa making his way toward the trash heap and saw that he was carrying a new bag of possible snacks. Naturally, the bear made his way toward Grandpa. Now, our Grandfather was not a pushover. He was a big man, strong and stubborn. That bear was not getting the garbage until Grandpa threw it on the pile. The bear, however, had other ideas, and that garbage bag quickly became a major source of contention.

Grandpa saw the bear coming, so he yelled at it in an attempt to “bluff” the bear into backing off. However, the bear was just as stubborn as Grandpa, so just he kept coming. Soon the bear was between our Grandfather and the trash heap. Grandpa took another step toward the bear and clutching the garbage bag tightly, yelled again. The bear, unimpressed, took a step toward our Grandfather. Then the bear took yet another step. Our grandfather, realizing that the bear was not intimidated in the least, began backing up toward the car. The bear followed. This scared our Grandmother who reached up and locked both car doors.

Grandpa backed up all the way to the car with the bear following him every step of the way. Keeping his eyes on the bear, he made his way to the driver-side door and reached down to open it. It was locked!

“Boots, unlock the door,” he yelled. He called her “Boots” because of the fancy boots she was wearing when they first met. We called her, Nanny, of course.

“Erwin, Get rid of the garbage. Let the bear have it,” Nanny yelled back. Grandpa was now circling the car with the bear following him. It was very exciting for my brother and I sitting in the back seat.

“Boots, unlock the door!” he yelled again.

“Get rid of the garbage, Erwin” Nanny yelled back. Grandpa had, by now, circled the car several times with the bear in dogged pursuit. Finally realizing that something had to give, as he came around again to the front of the Hornet, Grandpa hurled the bag of garbage as hard as he could toward the heap of garbage bags about thirty yards away. Nanny reached over and unlocked the driver-side door and Grandpa, jerking the door open, slid into the seat and slammed the door closed. The bear, however, had already headed off in the direction Grandpa had hurled the bag and was now sniffing speculatively at it.

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence in the car. Finally, Grandpa spoke.

“For the love of Pete, Boots, why wouldn’t you unlock the door.

“Erwin, I was not letting you in here with the garbage. What if the bear tried to get in here too!”

“Oh, for heaven sakes!” Grandpa retorted. Needless to say, the bear watching was cut short, and it was a hushed ride back to their camp at Burke Town.

Check out my other Bear Tales!

In addition, if you like  these Adirondack Bear Tale short stories, check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot! Available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million.

The Ninja: Death on a Moonless Night

A return to Flash Fiction … 500 words this time.

Death on a Moonless Night.

It was a dark, moonless night. The humid air lay heavy, almost suffocating those trying to sleep after the day’s long battle. A lone Union sentry, posted about twenty yards from the general’s tent, shifted his tired feet. He glanced nervously around. He could feel it … an unconscious foreboding nagging at his conscious mind. There was a sense of death on the night air.  His post was deep within the Union encampment. A safe enough post. The sentry listened … hearing only the buzz of mosquitoes and the constant chirping of crickets.

In the tent, a mosquito buzzed the general’s ear. He swatted at it futilely, then rolled over on his cot.  Despite the heat, he pulled the wool blanket up over his head … protection against the buzzing insects. Grant was exhausted. Today, he’d sent three divisions to push the Confederates from Big Black River Bridge. They’d captured over 1,800 enemy soldiers. Tomorrow, he would lay siege to Vicksburg. Grant’s mind kept churning over the many important preparations for tomorrow’s action.

Damn Mississippi. Nothing but swamps, rebels, and mosquitos, he thought to himself.  Gradually, the physical need for rest overpowered the general’s brain, and he drifted off into a fitful sleep.

Saitō was the night. He was invisible, a lethal force hidden in the darkness; unstoppable. The sentry died. A small shuriken, its points dipped in deadly toxin distilled from chrysanthemums, nicked his neck. The poison did its work. Saitō caught the sentry as he fell, dragging him into the tree line. Saitō crept up to the tent where Grant lay sleeping. Concealed in the shadows, he listened to the snoring emanating from the other side of the canvas. His target slept. Time to complete his task.

Saitō scanned the encampment. All was still quiet. A living shadow, Saitō moved stealthily toward the front flap of the tent. An imperceptible movement of the flap and he was inside.  Saitō rose silently from the plank floor of the tent platform, sliding a tanto from the scabbard in the small of his back. He approached the cot where the general lay sleeping. The tanto was poised, ready to stab downward. Grant’s death would breathe new life into the Confederacy. It was why he’d been paid.

“I wouldn’t,” a voice spoke from a corner of the tent. Even in the dark, Saitō could make out the seated figure of a man, his feet propped up on a wooden whiskey keg. The man’s hand rested on his right thigh inches from his holstered .45 Colt Peacemaker. Moving like the wind, Saitō whirled, changing his grip on the tanto, ready to kill the impertinent fool interrupting his work. The man’s hand flashed. The colt barked, a bullet stuck Saitō, centered between his two black eyes.

Grant sat up in his cot.

“What the … ?”

“It’s alright, Sir. I’m Agent Jim West of the U.S. Secret Service. President Lincoln assigned me to keep an eye on you. You’re safe now.  Better get some more rest. You’ve a big day tomorrow.”

 

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