Friday, October 29
Friday, October 29, 2010...Whisked Away To Some Forty-Seven Years Ago......
Have you ever been performing a simple, daily task and find yourself thrust into the past by something you see, hear, feel or smell? Occasionally this will happen to me and I simply love the little vacation from my present world, when it happens... for I am magically whisked into the past...to a time when I was a younger person, experiencing again...a feeling that is usually very pleasant to my memory. Oh, there are times my memories aren't exactly pleasant, like smelling something burning and reflecting back to a time I accidentally burnt a hole in one of Mom's tablecloths when I upset a candle on it, but mostly they are pleasant memories.
This morning...in the pre-dawn twilight, I stepped out on the rear deck with the dogs and took in a deep breath of chilled morning air. The lingering smell of damp earth and wet fall leaves transposed me back to a twelve year old boy, longing for the first day of deer season. The place was central Pennsylvania; in a little town called Marysville...located just on the fringe of the State game lands and the old Scotia Iron mines, a few miles north of State College. From the time I could remember...I awaited my twelfth birthday. Once attaining the age of twelve, I would then be able Hunt. I would accompany my Mother and Father, along with all the other family members who came every fall to hunt. This year, I could join in the hunt for the elusive white tailed deer during the first day of the Pennsylvania's 1963 antlered deer season and I was psyched beyond belief.
I had little idea what to expect, but it was made to be such an important event in Pennsylvania, that every young boy usually awaited the chance to go, with a great enthusiasm. Most workers had off and schools excused absences for the first two days, which weren't tolerated for any other reason. Stores had "Deer Lonely Ladies Day" sales for the ladies who preferred not to hunt. For the men and boys, there was always such buildup toward the first day, special "hunter sales", announcements and contests for the biggest buck harvested, that a young boy couldn't help but be psyched beyond explanation!
Looking back, I remember the early morning smells and noises of that Crisp November morning in 1963, as I stood on our porch, itching to go...listening and looking across the still dark fields and woodlot behind out house. I could see headlights as cars slowly crawled along the old woods roads below our house, heading for the remote, old and desolate farm fields, long ago abandoned and growing over...being reclaimed by nature as the years passed. I could hear voices of die hard nimrods as they trudged through the red brush, toward a pre-determined stand location...leaving at this ungodly early hour, trying to arrive before someone else claimed their spot. I remember shivering and wondering if my clothing and boots would keep me from freezing to death during this day of bone chilling weather. I remember going small game hunting with my Dad several times...although it wasn't this cold... and how we had to sit quietly and motionlessly for hours just to see a couple of running squirrels, high in a tree. Could we sit this long and quiet on a day this frigid?
I learned from Dad what it felt like to kill such a beautiful animal, just to place it on the table to fill our stomachs....death for sustenance....a cruel world we inhabited indeed, yet we must survive. Money was extremely tight in those days and rabbit, squirrel, grouse and pheasant were mainstays on the dinner table. Hunting for our meat, allowed us to have more money for purchasing vegetables, bread and milk... or all the other things necessary to set a dinner table.
I learned to revere the life I was taking...never to kill for fun, but always humbly accepting animals sacrifice of life....and accepting what God had placed on the earth to feed us and maintain our own lives.
It was a special thing...a grateful occurrence that many kids who didn't hunt, ever had the privilege to learn or experience. I learned this immediately the first time I pulled the trigger and the innocent animal in my sights fell to my killing. I had great guilt at the taking of its life, yet a reverence for the bounty it bestowed to my family and me. How easy killing comes to other animals in the wild. A hawk or fox doesn't think twice about killing and never feels remorse in doing so. In fact, no other creature but man feels this in killing for sustenance. Just the same, it seems only right that man, being the ultimate being on earth should show a reverence for such a gift of beast.
I really feel sorry for those among us that have never had the opportunity to learn about life in this aspect. I have many, many fond memories of days afield with my Mother and Father and would not trade one minute of these memories for all the riches known to man. My Mother is gone, but these thoughts are receicved into my mind at lightning speed every time experience one of these moments. My Father is alive, but we can no longer enjoy time afield together...except in our memories... for he is able to breath the fresh air of the outdoors from his wheelchair in a central Pennsylvania home for assisted living and I am in Upstate New York.
All this considered....I feel extremely fortunate to have had the experience and cherish the memories there of when they instantly occur...especially in the crisp chilling serenity of early morning twilight, such as today....
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