GRAY – As near as I can remember it, it was September 1937, when I was 9.

I went with my father to the bottom of the hill on our farm in Gray, where he had planted some oats in a flat area close to the woods.

I was climbing in the branches of an old apple tree while he cut the oats with a scythe. After a little while, a ruffed grouse flew out of the woods and landed in the other side of the tree that I was in. (In those days, everyone I knew would have called the bird a partridge.) I suppose that the bird was curious about the sound of the scythe cutting the oats.

In a few minutes, the bird flew down close to where my father was mowing. My father had to brush the bird aside with his foot to keep it away from the sharp blade. After a short time, it flew away into the nearby woods.

When my father had as much of the oats as he wanted for our animals, he loaded them in the back of his dump truck and we drove up the hill to the house. The truck was about 15 years old, of a brand called Casco that had been built somewhere in the Portland area. It had a four-cylinder engine that made a sort of putt, putt, putt noise at slow speed.

When we got out near the house, we were surprised to see the bird come flying up the hill and land near the truck. It walked around a bit and then flew off back to the woods. Naturally we thought this was all very strange, but for me, the best was yet to come.

The next day or a day or two later, when I was walking home from school, I became aware of a rustling in the dry leaves of the hardwood forest on my left. The bird was keeping pace with me about 30 feet away.

On an impulse, I knelt down and beat the flat of my hands on the ground to make a sound vaguely like the drumming of a grouse on a stump. The bird stopped and then came toward me.

I beat the ground again and it came right up close to me. I waved my hands at it and wiggled my fingers. The bird flapped its wings to raise off the ground and thrust out its claws to “fight” my fingers. We played this “game” a few times, and then the bird flew back into the woods.

The next day, the bird and I had the same scenario. I cannot remember now how many days we “played the game,” but it was three or four different days. The bird never showed any fear. Sometimes, it was so close that I touched its breast feathers with my fingers.

After the last time that it flew away, I never saw it again. I have always remembered with great pleasure this friendly encounter with a wild creature.

David W. Knudsen is a resident of Gray.