Monday, October 22, 2012

Reflections of you, Dad


A quick look outside my window tells me it looks like it could snow. The grey and white-streaked clouds are hiding the Big Horns, the leaves are falling to the ground and it is quite simply cold outside. 

Still, there is something about it that makes me smile. Perhaps it reminds me of moose hunting season in Fairbanks, Alaska. Sure the timing is off, moose season is around the beginning of Sept, but the weather and the smells are much the same. 

Hunting moose meant I got to spend one-on-one time with my Father. We would spend several days before the season opened going out scouting areas we wanted to hunt, we spent time shopping for our supplies, sighting in rifles, packing gear, looking over maps and so on. 

Then, the evening before the season opened, we would say good-bye to our normal lives and head out into the Alaskan woods. Although we never shot a moose, it was a glorious time. 

There is something special about spending one-on-one time with either of your parents. But, right now, with the overcast sky, the smell of leaves decaying and wood smoke, and the cool breeze in the air, I am thinking about my Father. 

I talked to him for a little while this weekend. He and my Mother live in San Antonio, Texas and are preparing to move up here to Wyoming. We chatted about our normal stuff, music, food, work, retirement (for him) and so on. 

As our conversation came to a close I decided I would ask him a question that has been with me for awhile. 

"Dad," I said, "When you move up here, would you be willing to go hunting with me and my boys? would you be willing to teach them some of the things that you taught me?"

To some folks this seems like a simple question with the obvious answer being, "Sure, I would love to." But it wasn't as simple as that. 

The days we spent in Alaska traipsing through the woods looking for the moose that always got away, are long gone. It seems there has been a lifetime of events that have unfolded since that make that time between Father and son seem so long ago. Things, that although healed with time, still drove a wedge through the past. 

And then there was the realization that time does indeed catch up with everyone.

Recently, when I was living in Kimball, Neb. my Father gave me his 30.06. He said he didn't have a need for it anymore because he lived in Texas and didn't plan on doing any hunting. This was hard for me. Hard because I immediately thought of all the time my father and I spent freezing in the woods next to a pond. Hard because it seemed like my father was giving up something that, at one time, meant a great deal to him. Hard because it was proof that my Father isn't as immortal as I once thought he was.  

After I asked the question, there was a silence. Sure, it only lasted three or four seconds, but it seemed like a long time. 

Dad exhaled, "Sure, we could do that. That sounds like fun." I could tell by the way he responded he was genuine. 

I smiled. We talked a little more about licensing and needing to purchase a new rifle, but it all seemed trivial. Or, perhaps it was symbolic. That here, despite the several hundred miles between us, despite all that has transpired, Father and son were planning a hunting trip once again.

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon. - Harry Chapin, Cat's in the Cradle