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Today is December 6, 2022


Taking leave of today to step back

Taking leave of today to step back

Biscuit Smith, of Thundervalley Archery, makers of the Snuffer and Magnus broadheads, explains the finer points of arrow flight to new converts. From left are Biscuit Smith, Michael Grappin, Deaven Grappin, Amy Grappin and Destin Grappin. Michael and his two sons just completed their first Osage (wood) bows. The Grappins are Central Electric Power Association members in Leake County.

    What is it about nostalgia that is so terribly appealing? The question is easily asked, and I hear it often. But the responses suitable for answering such a perplexing probe are remarkably difficult to formulate. There simply are too many variables.
    Age is one cause for this somewhat misplaced longing. Years forward tend to dim the truth of years past, and we may wish things could be as they were in the good old days.
    There is merit in such thinking. Yesterday was a time of simplicity. Today, however, is filled with complexity. That could hold true regardless of the era, for the 19th century was likely more complex than the 18th, particularly for those whose lives spanned some of both. And the 20th century was increasingly more complex than the 19th, and so on.
    You, I am sure, grasp the process here outlined. So, it is not fully unnatural to desire a simple, less hectic world. But we live in the world of today and perhaps tomorrow, not in yesterday. Still, we ache and wonder for much of what has slipped past, many times unnoticed until it no longer exists.
    Age aside, there is still a powerful lure associated with the past. It is evidenced in those far younger than I who become curious about people of the past and the lives they lived.
    On a recent Saturday evening, I was privileged to present my 18th century program for a large group at Moselle Baptist Church in Jones County. Among the 500 or so there, a great many were young people—children, teens, young adults. All listened intently. They fondled long-hunter shirts and a wool capote and a canvas greatcoat and forged knives and copper corn boilers and buckskin moccasins and a flintlock rifle. They were enthralled by a flint-and-steel fire kit.
    They touched a heavy wool blanket rolled onto a tump line, a system and product exactly like that used by such personalities as Daniel Boone in 1770.
    They admired my battered and stained leggings over canvas knee breeches, both now showing extensive wear from a decade of heavy use.
    More recently, I set up and tended a booth for Primitive Archer magazine at the Pre-Spring Arrow Fling at Tannehill State Historical Park near Birmingham. Again, there were hundreds in attendance, many of them youngsters and most shooting the target ranges. Others just curious.
    This is a traditional-only gathering, and some truly impressive glass-and-wood recurves were in use, these true works of art. But there was also an increasing number of all-wood bows in various styles, another step back in time.
    My own Osage and bamboo longbow backed with copperheads, coupled with a Plains-Style leather quiver decorated with feathers and beads and holding cedar arrows, gave pause for each passerby to stop and stare. Wonderment filled their eyes, and many had to ask how it performed. Quite wonderfully, I must say. Remember, Native Americans fed entire villages with the sweet meat of bison taken with such gear.
    Events such as these two mentioned convince me more completely each time I attend them that there is something inherent in many that prompts them to explore the past. Why and what? I still don’t know for sure.
    But for me it is the reward of being more closely in touch with self and the environment. It is the requirement that I rely more on myself and my companions than on technology and gadgetry. It is the realization that I can be content with very little, can live a full life minus the external stimuli of obnoxious noise and the latest contrivances touted by advertising as essential.
    It is reaching the experienced conclusion that had I been one from the past, I could have, as they did, survived the normal and regular hardships of a difficult but simple life. Plus, it is all fun, this playing the Old Days game.
    And these are all ample justification to take leave of today and step back to yesterday from time to time.

    Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. “Uncertain Horizons,” book two in Kinton’s “Wagon Road Trilogy,” is now available. Order from your local bookstore, or Kinton’s website:

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