I live in a relatively rural part of New Hampshire. I do have running water, obviously Internet, and there are no broken down vehicles or appliances in my yard, but it is quiet. My property is well shrouded in trees this time of year and though I know exactly where they are, my neighbors’ houses are invisible to me.
As the summer winds down, the locals’ thoughts turn to deer season. It is not uncommon for someone to spend a Saturday afternoon sighting in his (or her) shotguns in preparation for the hunt. I’m generally alright with a short span of that nonsense. Similar to having to listen to fireworks. Last Wednesday, there was a particularly loud blast in the middle of the day. Wilson called to ask if I was OK as he heard it too. I thought nothing more about it until Friday night when the cannon started up in earnest. Whatever they were shooting, (Wilson’s professional opinion was a “Thirty Ot Six”) didn’t take long to reload and they were using up all their beer money on ammo.
The law states you must be 300 feet from a permanently occupied dwelling before discharging a firearm. Our neighboring land tracts are long, thin slices from the road to the base of the ridges over which the Wapack Trail climbs. The 300 foot rule makes it difficult to legally discharge a pop gun. As I was listening, the gunman stopped to reload and I heard shouts from the ridge. It was early enough for hikers to still be out. The gunman yelled back and the target practice continued. Not to say the hikers were the target but it was distressing nonetheless. This went on with shouting and shooting longer than a reasonable human being should be expected to bear. I called the local police.
It’s always good to know what the response time of your local constabulary, though I don’t abuse the service, I am about as far away from the station as you can get and still be in town. Within 15 minutes, my driveway was churning as four cruisers skidded to a halt. I didn’t even know we had four cruisers. Who approved the taxes for that??
Eight men leapt lightly from the vehicles, I noticed at least one flak-jacket-bullet-proof vest. One of them started up the walkway to me, the others huddled like planning a football play. “Wow!” I said, “I’m impressed. Did someone else call this in as well?”
He grinned at me, looked back at the drive and said, “No, they were all just bored.” Oh, great. After listening with me to the now sporadic outbursts, he headed back to the boys and the cars. Another huddle ensued. They guffawed and climbed back into the vehicles then attempted to turn them all around. It truly was an episode from Keystone Kops. They split up, two going off to some other “emergency” and two up the drive next door. No more shots or shouts were heard so I can only assume they managed to keep the peace.
Not for long however. The peace was once again broken on Sunday night when I first heard the chanting. It almost sounded like an ancient American Indian ceremony; until I heard the high-pitched giggle of an adolescent girl. There was a group up on the trail who felt they had found the edge of the world. They spread themselves out along the ridge, chanting and calling and loving the echoes from the granite. I thought of getting my firearm out at one point as evening fell. Just a warning shot, mind you, and nothing too big. In the spirit of community, I held off. So much for living in the wilderness…