My thoughts on everything from albacore tuna to zebras
| It was early Thanksgiving morning and a light snow coated the ground.This wasn’t the powdery mid-winter snow of late December or January but rather an early winter wet snow, the kind you find late in November, the kind that on a sunny day would be gone by noon. My Mom was busy in the kitchen making the stuffing for our Thanksgiving dinner while my Dad sat at the breakfast counter eating a bowl of cereal with a sliced banana. A steaming cup of coffee sat next to him. Occasionally he would glance out the window at the house across the street looking for some sign of activity.
He was wearing a plaid flannel shirt and a pair of canvas pants. Perched on his balding head was was bright orange cap that had seen better days. In the corner of the kitchen stood two double barrel shotguns and two well worn canvas coats that smelled of a wonderful mix of the earthy smells of autumn, hunting dogs and sweat. I hurriedly downed a glass of orange juice, ate a banana and scrambled to get dressed for our annual Thanksgiving hunting trip.
Across the street our neighbor, Walter, appeared from around the back of his house. Similarly dressed to my dad he cradled a shotgun in one arm and led two excited barking beagles on leashes with the other. We hurriedly gathered our gear and met him at the back of the house. The snow had already started to melt and drip from the roof. While Mom busied herself with preparing our Thanksgiving dinner, Walter, my Dad and I climbed the hill behind the house beginning with the abandoned railroad grade.Once we were well clear of the homes Walter released the dogs and we spent the morning following them through the woods.
The rising temperatures and the morning sun caused the snow to melt and fall from overhead tree branches. Occasionally it would find that space between the back of your hunting hat and the collar of your coat making its icy presence known on your neck. The dogs, closer to the snow covered ground, were soon soaked, though the wagging tails and excited barks showed they didn’t mind at all.
Some of our shots were successful and some were not.We laughed at those. We walked across old mine dumps and through large patches of briars.We got scratched, sweaty and sore. We didn’t mind. Sometimes the woods would open up and as the morning progressed we stopped at one of the artesian flows to use a collapsible metal cup for a drink. If we were lucky one of us would pull a Hershey bar or maybe an apple from one of the many pockets in our coat and we would share it.
At noon we would call it a day, call the dogs in and head back down to the railroad grade. We’d follow that back to our homes, leaving just enough time for us to get cleaned up for dinner. From the moment we walked into the house we were overwhelmed by the many smells of Thanksgiving dinner. They easily overwhelmed the smells of autumn, hunting, dogs and sweat.
Today, as I sit down for dinner with my wife at a local restaurant, I know I will give thanks for my family and for the experiences they provided that have made me who I am today.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. No matter where you are at, or what you are doing today, may your thoughts take you, for just a few moments, to family and friends, to a time when your life was filled with simple joys.