DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

January 30, 2009

                                                           

This Case

When Billy died they phoned me.

I had known the older gentleman from the town. He and his wife were not members of the church but our town was small and everyone knew everyone and I was called to do his funeral.

I drove up into the mountains there in Northeastern Washington to visit his home and speak to his widow about the service. I don’t remember the exact time of year but I do remember snow and more snow. I remember the weather being crystal clear and the peaks of the mountains were especially beautiful. So, if there was snow, the time of year would have been somewhere between November 1 and April 1. (We had a lot of snow out there.)

The family’s home was set in a relatively flat, open expanse up in those mountains. It was not the home of a wealthy family but the setting of the property was something that anyone would envy (assuming one wants to negotiate 80 miles of icy mountain roads to the nearest supermarket).

I parked in the snow covered driveway, got out, admired the surrounding peaks, rang the doorbell and went in to talk with the widow about how we could honor Billy in the funeral service at the church.

When I was leaving I was escorted out the garage entrance which the family mainly used since it was plowed and shoveled better. In the garage I noticed snowshoes hanging on the walls. Billy’s widow said that I should come back sometime and snowshoe out towards the river to an overlook. “It’s beautiful there,” she said.

Snowshoeing through mountain forests was not one of the hallmarks of my youth growing up in a Northwest Ohio factory town. There are several reasons for that I suppose; the two main ones being there are no forests and no mountains nearby. The best one could do, would be to go out to the reservoirs around Lima where man-made hills kept the city’s water supply. Or you could snowshoe through some of the very flat farm fields. Besides I don’t recall any of my friends owning snowshoes and my only experience with them was watching on TV “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.” He and trusty dog “King” would take a snow sled and then snowshoes and track down ne’er-do-wells across the frozen tundra after which Sergeant Preston would announce, “Well King, I guess this case is closed!” (Music…and the screen fades to black.)

 

It was with visions of Canadian Mounties and sled dogs in my head that a few weeks later I went back out to Billy’s house and to borrow a pair of snowshoes for a walk. For some reason I had put in my coat an energy bar, though a GPS system and cell phone would have been better idea; had they been invented. When I got to the house, the garage door was open and Billy’s widow hollered out for me to take any pair I wanted and then she handed me a can of beer and pointed the way towards the cliffs through the forest overlooking the river valley.

I was ready for a real adventure. Snow. Forests. Mountain Peaks. It was all there. I headed for the forest across her property.

I quickly discovered two things. The first was that snowshoeing was really hard work. Kind of like walking through a muddy swamp and constantly having to pull your foot out of the muddy lake bottom. It was very slow going. I didn’t recall Sergeant Preston having it so tough. He always looked great in his Mounty outfit and animal furs and King the dog was obviously a great companion though when I think about it, the Sergeant did talk an awful lot to that dog there in the Canadian wilderness. I suppose if one talks to a dog 24/7 then snowshoeing in 3-foot deep snow would be the least of one’s problems.

The second thing I discovered, much to my delight, was that the cliffs through the forest to the scenic overlook were actually close by. My epic journey was slow going and it was through some startlingly beautiful scenery but it was only a quarter mile at most. Yet it took me 45 minutes.

The Sergeant and King would have enjoyed the overlook to the river valley. I certainly did. It was then that I remembered what I had in my coat pockets. After my long hard trek I tore open the energy bar and gazed at the mountain peaks of Canada a few miles to the north. It was a fitting scene and I felt like I should announce that for Billy and for me, “this case is closed.” I reached into my pocket and retrieved the beer which Billy’s widow handed me earlier, I discovered that it was a Molson Canadian. That was a fitting brew. I made certain that it was opened as I toasted Billy.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing