Monday, October 14, 2013

Reggie Jackson

Duck season opened the first Tuesday in October at high noon when I was a kid. The first time I skipped school, my dad picked me up with a canoe on the truck rack so I could, "Help on the farm." I bounded down the stairs and put on my hunting vest as I hopped into the old green Ford.

New to child-rearing hint: your child will think you have super powers, can beat up other parents, hang the moon each night, etc. for about eleven years. Wanna get five more years out of them? Play hookey. Encourage them to dodge the man, show them that the box everyone is supposed to squish into doesn't apply to them. Be warned, some of this will backfire later.

'A Sand County Almanac,' by Aldo Leopold is required reading in many intro environmental courses. We had a copy at Camp 25. Gary left it with an inscription pleading visitors to read the tenth chapter when visiting the area at that time of year. Mister Leopold captured the magic of the month, birds squawking as they headed south, the new crispness in the air foretelling of winter months to come, the miracle of chlorophyll retreating from the leaves back to the trunks of the trees, leaving a brilliance of color poets struggle to describe.

I had a hard time when I moved to Alaska. October sucks there. Fall colors have already given way to the bleakness before the snows. Rain comes sideways. Darkness steals seven minutes of sunlight every day. Friends with more money in their pockets leave to surf Baja.

Guess what? October sucks in Botswana, too. The first time around, I thought it was just cuz I was new to the place and unused to the heat. But no one prepares for this, the first maddening heat of the season. How could one? Pain is stored in the short-term memory. (A good thing. How much would life suck if you could still feel the first time you stubbed a toe?) Realizations I had an October ago like the fact that it's possible to sweat from one's kneecaps, come rushing back.

Tempers flare. Super nice pilots originally from Argentina explode when they see hard-side bags well beyond the 15kg limit. A smile and shake of the head a month ago becomes a verbal tirade about pulling the clothes out of the bureau before putting said bureau into hard-sided bag. People quit jobs. Others pick up the slack and hate every minute of it. Humor eludes, waiting for the statute of limitations.

1 comment:

Aunt Patty said...

Nice post, Shane. So sad, the hunting shack is falling down and most likely Gary's Sand Country Almanac sits on the table for the mice to eat. We miss him.