The Last Thursday of November is coming up this week again. I can't help but be excited. While its just another ritual the gravity that pulls me to it never weakens. It's a day that seems distant in February and January .......it sounds cool and dreamy in June and July ....... and by the time September and October roll around its worrisome that its so close and there is so much preparation to do. But from sundown the night before until half an hour before sunrise time goes into slow motion in my mind. Thanksgiving, the opening day of ducks season in Kentucky since I can remember is always kind of special . It's an annual marker in every year and a milestone to age and time and possibly wisdom ( that is still up for discussion with some of our wives and parents).
I'm 54 this year and have spent the last 45 thanksgiving mornings in a blind or boat or standing by a tree knee deep in the water with the man that I love and respect more than any other..... My dad. Throughout the years we've been joined by friends and brothers and and brothers in law and my sons but we have always been together on this morning. We have had our differences and disagreements thru the years but that always has taken a back seat on this day.
I always look forward to it as it opens our season of time together. Even though I dread the hurry and worry of someone disturbing our best laid plans or weather or conditions taking a sudden turn for the worse I look forward to it as a landmark.....the start of the season, the start of long conversations and long stretches of silence broken with muffled grunts of " three over the trees at 1:30 left to right" while turning my face to the ground but scanning the sky with my eyes. There's the hot sausage biscuits from the gas station store and a strong cup of coffee from the thermos and a peppermint cough drop.
Sitting in the blind before the first light of day and the first thundering shot from down in the bottoms.....before any ducks show up and the real action starts is a real special time. Usually nobody talks but we just sit in silence each listening to the wind or for ducks in the dark. For me this is when time kind of stands still...this is the fuel that burns the fire of a duck hunter. The times when we are still. When its dark without closing our eyes ...... you can't see but you can hear and you can feel the wind and you can smell....God you can smell. And you can remember the smells. The smell of mud and ducks and burnt powder and wet dogs...its enough to overwhelm you if you think of it all at once but man is it powerful.
I'll admit that after all of this time I still get excited . Yes I do but its different now and I suspect its even more different for him.....He's 85 this year and I'm going to guess that he has been in this game for 60 plus years and has seen really good days and really bad days and anymore he welcomes either as long as he is still out there in the game.
So here we go.....another round....hopefully not our last.