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.