Thursday, December 20, 2012

Heavy thoughts, heavier heart

     The SUV comes to rest in the same muddy ruts from last week’s excursion into Kentucky. I hop out of the driver’s seat, throw on my pack, grab my recurve and start my hike under cloudy skies…More mud and slop from recent rains and 60 degree temps. Sure doesn’t feel like deer season or Christmas for that matter.

     I shimmy up the Ash tree, buckle in and wait…But this evening’s sit is restless. Normally, the woods works her magic on me and takes me to another place, but not this time. This is too deep. Too heavy…Like everyone else, my mind is on Newtown and any minor problem that I usually bring out here in the trees seems trivial at best.

     How? Why? What would cause someone to commit such a horrible act? I want answers! I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m frustrated. I want a piece of the coward’s flesh! My mind has a million questions and I catch myself wandering how I would react to such a tragedy. How would I react as a father? How would I react as a police officer? Could I keep it together or would I fold like a house of cards? I try to concentrate on the woods and the hunt and for a time, I get lost among the trees and the wind, but the news reports and media attention that has bombarded us for the last 48 hours creeps back in…

     My thoughts race as I search for reason and answers in my head, but none are found. The snap of a twig brings me back to the present as a doe and a yearling cross the logging road to my right. My shoulder tenses, but I don’t even lift my bow as the gals pass over the ridge.

    Before long, I’m back to trying to make sense of the incident and I go over scenario after scenario in my head. I question myself and my agency’s own policies. I close my eyes and subconsciously go over the layout of our local schools. Each entrance, each classroom. Lockdown procedures and emergency plans. I bounce back and forth from father mode to police mode as I continue to look for answers…

     Darkness is falling and it’s time to climb down and make my long walk out. Along the way, it strikes me that we can’t make sense of the senseless. I’m sure in weeks to come; there will be plenty of blame spread around by all the arm chair quarterbacks and political pundits. It will be “The police could have done more or the school should have had a better safety plan” or “It’s the gun’s fault and a 2nd Amendment issue” or “it’s a failure of the mental health system in our country.”

     It’s a long, somber, dark drive back to Switzerland County…

     Try as I might, I had a difficult time tying this week’s article in, but then I thought of an old quote that goes something like this; “Take a boy hunting, and you’ll never have to hunt for a boy”. Parents, spend time with your kids. Love them, hug them. Listen and talk…cherish them and savor every moment.