Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Opener...


     My internal alarm clock goes off at 5 am despite the one next to my bed being set at 5:30…my mind’s way of telling my body not to over sleep on opening day. I wipe my eyes open and force my contacts under the swollen lids, burning with saline solution as I squint my way into the kitchen. The boy is already up and moving and dressed to go…I rummage through the fridge, find a piece of cheese and grab an oatmeal cookie as I slam down a diet coke for my morning caffeine fix and we’re out the door…

     Racing out SR250 like a couple of vampires running from the break of dawn, we make it to the farm just in time as the sun barely cracks the purple sky.  We beat tracks across the no till field to the safety of our dark, hidden little blind tucked away in the shadows at the edge of the trees…Organized we’re not, but everything, including us seems to find its place as we elbow and jockey one another for position in the cramp quarters.

     Finally settled in, we wait for day time’s return and an accommodating turkey to show up within range of our arrows…We’re shoe horned in the blind and I can’t help but wonder where the time has went. Just a couple years ago, we had room to spare in our hiding spot, I thought to myself as I happen to glance down at the kid’s Frankenstein sized 14 boot dwarfing my size 9’s…I still have a difficult time remembering that there’s not much “kid” left in the 6 feet of lanky teen to my right…where has the time went?

     The woods are waking up as the sun at our back creeps its way across the open field in front of us…eating away inch by inch, minute by minute the grayness of dawn. The boy spots a doe coming across the field 200 yards straight away, heading right to us…She puts on the skids at 50 yards, head bobbing trying to figure out what we are and why we’re here…She’s safe for now and continues on her way, followed in short order by two others heading for their bedrooms after night of dining. Songbirds fill the air along with the ever present noise of crows…A gang of four of the black birds making non-stop racket. A redtail glides over and is immediately bullied by the leader of the pack…I’ve never understood why a bird as strong and graceful as a hawk puts up with a crow…one grab by the hawk’s talon would be instant death. As I watch the dive bombing, aerial dog fight, I’m quietly rooting for the crow’s demise…

     Blue jays, woodpeckers and nuthatches talk back and forth…But my son and I quiet for the most part, listening for another bird. A yelp, a “cut”, a purr…hopefully a gobble? Two hours into our vigil and nothing heard. No turkeys to be found…The hunt will be over soon as I have to be responsible and get the boy to school…I think to myself that I probably should’ve made him go on time, but tomorrows aren’t guaranteed and the way I see it, we only get to be part of so many sunrises and I’m determined to share as many of them with my kids as possible, so any guilt at missing a period or two of studies is quickly washed away…Besides, some things learned aren’t taught in the classroom.

   

   “What time is it Dad?” he whispers… “15 more minutes Bud, then we’ll have to go” I reply, wishing it was hours…We manage to hear a distant yelp from a hen and call to her, but she’s not interested in our attempt to talk and we finally concede it’s time to go…Not much conversation was had, but we didn’t need to speak…In the stillness of the morning, in the coolness of the air, lost in our own thoughts, in our facial expressions, we spoke volumes…we didn’t need words.

     The turkeys might have won this round, but my success this morning wasn’t decided by an arrow launched or measured by the length of Tom’s beard or the hook of his spurs…