The Conservationist's Kids

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 4, 2010

Big Squirrel, and couldn't understand why the rest of us objected. We decided to keep L.S., with a new meaning of Large Squirrel.

My brother Warren remembers an early confrontation he had with a coyote pup we called Foxy. We were all rushing to get ready for school that morning, and somehow Foxy got past the barricade that kept him in the kitchen. The coyote slipped into my brother's room, snatched up his underpants, and raced through the house with my brother streaking in hot pursuit. Of all the tardy children at school that day, my brother had the most interesting excuse.

My brother almost caused a scandal one time by answering honestly when his teacher asked him about a bruise on his face. Every morning when Dad left for work, all of us children would line up to kiss him goodbye. That morning Warren had been pushing to get in line, and as my father straightened up from kissing my sister and turned for the next kid, the gun strapped to his hip smacked my brother on the side of his face.

Luckily his teacher knew us well enough not to get too alarmed when my brother told her, "My dad hit me with his gun," but she did call my mother for an explanation.

My mother, Dad's unpaid personal secretary, deserves special recognition for all she had to put up with as the wife of a conservation agent. My father used her good pillowcases to carry snakes. The animals passing through our home were sometimes ferocious, and none of them were housebroken.

Her freezer always was full of dead creatures that had to be kept for evidence. Once an entire deer carcass occupied her deep freeze for six months until the case came to trial. Her husband's schedule was unpredictable: the phone often rang and he was coming and going at all hours, sometimes bringing home extra people for her to feed. Emergencies cropped up and altered our plans.

Once on a family fishing trip, my father threatened to arrest my mother because she untangled our fishing lines and threw them back into the water without a fishing permit. Unfazed, she told my father, "Take me to jail where there's some peace and quiet. You cope with the kids!"

My mother is a whiz in the kitchen; she can cook almost anything. Perhaps the strangest thing she's ever had in her oven was a batch

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