This was something I put together for my niece. She was doing an "oral history" presentation at school about my dad, her grandfather. My sisters and I were tasked with telling a story, recounting a vivid memory about dad. This is mine:
One of my fondest, most vivid memories of Dad is at the cottage in Gananoque, when I was somewhere between eight and 10 years old (I think... my memory is starting to go!). The cottage is quite different now than it was then. Not as clean, not as functional, not as "kid-friendly" as it is today. Back then the paths around the property weren't as well travelled, or even cleared, and getting from one end of the property (to explore, fish, forage, whatever) to the other was, in my young perspective, a huge excursion/adventure.
Nature and the more local/indigenous inhabitants (read: racoons, beavers, spiders and snakes) were more in control than we, the "part-time" tenants who only visited on select summer weekends.
Swimming was always fun, in water that was generally pretty cool (sub 20 degrees?), rocky-bottomed and, during this particular summer, snake infested.
Water snakes abounded that year, to the best of my recollection. Now and then you could see the nub of their little noses/heads poking out of the water while they swam from point to point—easier to see in calm conditions, near impossible with waves. This terrified mum, but she was unlikely to get in the water even in the best conditions. I recall being braver than that, but maybe I'm being generous.
ANYWAY, in the cottage, high up on the wall between the living room and what we called the "TV room" was a 22-calibre rifle. Dad's, I think, from his early years, or possibly Gampa's from before. Either way, it was out of reach and always a source of interest for me. It came down that summer (and some after) and took the lives of many snakes ("many" in my memory could actually mean three or four, but that's still pretty good!).
Remember, though, that these water critters only revealed the tiniest bit of their bodies while they swam... veritable icebergs, with 90% of their bodies concealed under water.
Dad, having been an army cadet in his high school days (I think), as well as having taken riflery lessons (I know, 'cause I took the same ones at our mutual high school, Trinity College in Port Hope, Ontario), was a good shot. A really good shot. At distances that seemed impossibly far, he would take aim at these intruders (NOTE: THIS ISN'T A CONSERVATIONIST/ANIMAL-FRIENDLY REMINISCENCE), get a bead on the nub of their noses and fire. The only evidence of their demise at the time was a splash in the water and the disappearance of the snake. Dad would mark the spot, wade out, find and display the snake's corpse (in victory or reverence, I can't recall).
This happened a number of times that summer, and we'd often visit the point off of our neighbour's property, deemed to be one of many sources of the snakes, to see the effects of his... population control (a truly conservationist contribution, now that I think about it). The numbers had dwindled, and I've rarely seen many snakes since, as the legend of his sniping prowess must have proliferated through the snake community and discouraged settlement in the area, making swimming and exploration safe for all.
We often put our parents up on pedestals, respecting and, in some cases, fearing their authority. Dad was a protector that summer. Unbelievably impressive in my eyes then, and pretty undiminished years later.