Friday, November 23, 2007

Hunting Season [CCR]

The beautiful colors of the leaves finally revealed their fashion statement this past week, revealing their most vivid colors. Mother Nature’s show was modishly late this year but the display struck deep chords within my being as always. No matter where I have lived I have a common memory of looking out the window at the trees. Trees have a way of becoming landmarks in my memory forming a common thread between each place we move. I only hope we found the end of the thread as I am not sure my grandfather clock wants to be crated again.

The twist of a falling leaf in the wind and a breeze in my face takes me back to the many years of hunting in the woods around Mountain Springs. We often gathered at my Granddaddy Daily’s house where we planned the hunt for the day or even the next day if we planned on camping. Many times each family member brought a contribution and we prepared a chicken stew the night before the hunt if we were camping. The stew was a necessity to warm your soul in the fall’s cool night air.

The next day we rose before daylight and consumed any breakfast we may want before heading out. Dad would make sure we reached our assigned post before the sun peaked. Some might think we cheated, using dogs to run the deer through the hollow. But hunting for us was more than a sport. The meat would definitely offset some grocery costs.

For some reason it seems Uncle Ezell was always elected to be in charge of the dogs and making the run. He began the trek at the upper end of the hollow while we all waited along the ridge for the opportunity that would soon come our way. After a short wait we could hear the dogs strike a scent and it wouldn’t be long before they came down the neck of the ridge, hopefully with a large buck in the lead. We didn’t have fancy radios to tell us what others saw. We didn’t carry large guns with scopes. A simple shotgun and a sure sight were our tools.

I reckon we traveled home many times without the prize we expected, but if luck were with us someone landed the trophy. We carried our catch either to Granddaddy’s house or sometimes an uncle’s house to clean and divide the spoils. Of course we took the obligatory picture like the one I have with Uncle Ezell, Uncle Buford, Dad, and Granddaddy.

The years have made me slightly citified and it seems most of my hunting days are past. Today the robots and machine constantly beg my attention so most of my hunting trips mean rambling through the freezer at the oversized grocery store. It doesn’t compare to the local market butcher helping select the best slab of beef and slicing it for you, but that is a story for another day. Today I watch the colorful leaves flutter into the yard awaiting my rake and I draw a breath of cool Southern air. Driving to work isn’t quite like driving out the ridge for our hunting trip, but the memories will comfort me during the hustle and bustle of the office.