Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Whisper of Passing Shadows

Do you ever find that you have a feeling and the words just get in the way? I am usually pretty good at sorting out the language around a thing but not this time. This may fumble and ramble a bit so hunker down and hold on...

I was out again on Monday... doing that thing I do on Mondays: Hiking, hunting, taking pics, etc. As I was checking out this new stretch of trail, I found the remnants of an old gate and some other things scattered around up on top of this ridge. All of it was evidence of a past use of the space. You know... a place to maybe live or do some work of kind with stock or agriculture... whatever. Clearly it was something other than it is today. It was the shadow of another time. The outline was there but no real substance remained. I latched on to the metaphor and started thinking about things.

I started hunting when my former father-in-law introduced me to the sport in my early twenties. He was a direct and good man who proved to be a wiser mentor than I knew at the time. We discussed many things in our time together. I can remember a few of those discussions and am glad I knew him. Good friends are rare and should be treated that way. My first marriage failed quickly and painfully and things were bumpy for a while. I worked in that part of the country for three more years, driving a truck, delivering drywall and other supplies. It was a good and simple life. The best part of it may very well have been the survival of my friendship with the ex's dad. Before I left to head off to restart my education and move my life towards the place I am now, I went to pay a visit, knowing that our visits and my hunting would become far less frequent. He looked at me and said, "You'll be back. Once you have been there, the woods whispers in your ear like a woman."

So go figure, he was right. I lost touch with him sometime after I went off to school. given how busy things got and the distances involved, it was just something that just fell away and had to be lived through. Thinking about it now, I can see what it is I owe to that friendship. Squirrel hunting was where I started and it remains my favorite of all pastimes and he taught me. The gatepost reminded me of this sort of impact in my life. Where most of it all began is just a shadow and a memory now but the outline is etched on me and I feel this odd feeling when I bump into it like I did there, on that ridge, looking at some one's work from a while ago.

Is it sentimental crap or just me getting old? I have no clue and really care less about why. I just miss having a friend like that and being the guy who could deliver drywall for four or five years and get to enjoy life beyond the day-to-day run of living. It's much harder now, though it is not unmanageable, and hunting provides the simplicity of purpose that a mind needs sometimes. Pretty big footprints to leave in a life for one guy, 20 years ago. I wish he was around again. It's been a while.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yep, That just about covers it all.

You know, I try to stay away from the intense rooting and hysteria that can surround the favorite sports team in the life of a sports fan. It's really just sort of a reaction to being transplanted into Buckeye country where football is more serious than anything and perspective is a little skewed. But after watching the Sox (greatest team ever) just have their way with the Rockies last night, I went looking for, and think I found, an image that sums it all up.... (I found it here, BTW) And son... I bet your mama is damned proud of you. I am.

GO SOX!

Monday, October 22, 2007

High Noon in Squirrel Alley

Man, what a day. As with these many Mondays past back to the beginning of October, I was supposed to be out there with the sunrise, hunting like a fool for the furry-tailed tree devils. But unlike the last trip and all the thorns I didn't count on and didn't enjoy, and unlike last week with the strep throat and ear infections and pills and the yuck, today I did something I knew was going to work and I knew I would enjoy because I have done it before: Hunting in Squirrel Alley.
There's something to be said for knowing the place you are going. It also helps if it turns into a cathedral of gold and red maple leaves during my favorite month of the year. Shots were plentiful and the new rifle did what I would have hoped for and more. It was a good day. My local friends were even in the mood for squirrel tonight so I didn't have to sneak them in the house to freeze. (Mrs. Hunter hates the 'Wild Meat'...)

I have some more pics snapped along the way today. Things were just right for light and color and I had lots of time between shots to look around and photog, pray, and think. Here are some more I snapped. I am a huge fan of the fall and this time of year.... hence the name.

A nice maple I was seated under for a while today...

The Ancient Bridge Abutment - May favorite, favorite sitting spot
Not too much to ponder on today. It was all good and I am tired from the driving and the 4:45 wake-up so I am wrapping it up. More to come I am sure. Some things were on my mind all day and I will address those here, as soon as I am rested and back to being the other guy I am 6 days weekly. For now, I am off to play Dora and Diego save the dog with the flat tire... or whatever she wants to do. Kids are still just the best part of it all.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Finds Ohio

It was a fiendishly simple plan and it played in my head something like this; Take very Monday off from the first of October until the week after Thanksgiving. History has shown us that we never get to hunt in December until after Christmas anyway so no need to worry about the Twelfth month. You are too busy during the silly season anyway. Just use up the Mondays as hunting days that way no Monday in the office, hunting fix attained, life goes on, no worries. Right? Well, wrong actually.

The reality of the whole mess goes like this. Fall arrived in about 20 minutes last Tuesday and the high temperatures dropped from a balmy, high eighties sort of thing, down to a it's sort of chilly sixties sort of thing. The nights are following suit as well. Don't misunderstand here, I am a huge fan of the fall weather. What has failed to factor in is that the three-year-old will almost always catch a cold when things change like this. What does that mean? For those of you not blessed with the germ-infested bundles of joy, the rule is like this: If they get sick, you get sick. How special.

So here we are... Monday morning... The sun is just making its way to the horizon and the predawn is gorgeous. I can hear the birds starting to chirp and my rifle on the rack calling to me. It knows I am home and we should be hunting. What nobody else can feel is the red-hot line of pain running down my throat from my nose to my ears and further down. Gawd do I hate sinus infections. They are just the worst. Worse than the flu. Worse than Poison Ivy. Worse than just about everything. It's like someone pressurizing your head with really nasty Jello and then smacking it with a hammer. If I were not sniffing and coughing to go with it, I would be hunting anyway. There is enough OTC sinus stuff in my house to make this possible. The coughing that is in attendance here, makes the whole silent motionless thing just impossible.

So instead of watching the tree for signs of movement, for hopping nut carriers or busy tails flitting around, I am headed for the urgent care. Me and twenty or so others, all in a room, coughing and waiting for our turn to say 'Ah' and buy a prescription, take a pill, and stop secreating. Ah well.... there's always next Monday. I guess even an ill day at home with the kiddlet, sick or no, is better than a meeting about how to amortize or physical asset depreciation. Rock on.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

On-Call Melancholy Annoyance and the Infinite Satisfaction

Imagine if you will that you're asleep. It's Saturday morning and it is about 5 AM. Some where, in a datacenter full of servers, literally thousands of them, a server that knows your name and where to find you has waited until this moment to run out of disk space. Since it knows who you are and that you must fix it if it calls, it decides to wake you up to come and see its boo boo.... and the fun begins.

Such is the life of systems guys during the week of on-call pager duty. Now I can't complain very loudly about this because as a trade off for my once per 7 week rotation, they let me hunt or work at home nearly as much as I want to or at least as much as they can. (Comp time and Vaca time are the world's finest perks I think.) It's tough to beat it really. Couple that with a really nice check and I think you've got a dream-like gig... at least I do anyway.

Monday is a holiday (10 of those yearly. That's two extra weeks off yearly for those of you who don't abla) and I will be hunting again in the morning... home with the wife and the kiddies in the afternoon. I am really going to enjoy it this trip. Maybe it's the many generations of blue-collar worker conditioning built up inside of me or just the way I am wired... either way it always seems that having a day of fun is more enjoyable after a stretch of long work. It's even better if the work was hard too... twisted I know but it's how I feel most times. If it feels like there is still work to be done, hunting is far less enjoyable.

It seems very odd to want to talk about gratitude for days with 3 hours of sleep and systems that just won't keep the wheels from flying off all the time, but I have to say I am grateful for this gig this time around. I have made it as far up the food chain as I wish to go and have decided to do this work instead. I am a lucky guy to have made my way back down the food chain in one piece. I'll not lose this spot again until I am ready to walk away...

At 12:01 AM Monday my on-call shift ends and you can bet, 4 hours later I will be headed for the happy hunting ground, new rifle in tow, feeling very much like I accomplished something and a bit of recreation is truly in order. See? This is the good stuff... ( Oh yeah... New rifle is sighted in and shoots dreamishly. I'll have a post hunt post on Monday probably with pictures and all...)