187. Transitions

Image result for too much luggage pictures at airport and a babySo Grace and the Boo Boo bear had to fly home on Saturday morning. But first there was  a two hour drive to BWI.  Little Leah had been diagnosed with bronchitis the day before. She was having trouble breathing through her nose as she sucked on her binky. Not a good combination. Stu was better after a night’s sleep. It was Grace who was sick now and seriously sleep deprived. The rollicking holiday upper GI flu was raging through her, and we had to get to the airport by 10 a.m. Nothing was working out. Even her sister Erin had reinjured her own ankle while running to catch a train that wound up being late leaving NYC. That required a doctor’s visit on Friday.  Sister Jess was coughing and hacking too. But Grace had the jackpot… Abysinnian Anthrax Flu. It’s hard enough to travel with 100 pounds of checked luggage and a baby and baby stroller, but add acute sickness and five bags of Christmas presents to the mix. See the problem?  How to eat the figurative elephant with a plastic  spoon and a thimble?

Well, the baby presents had to stay at our house. That was an easy decision. However, getting into the car and driving winding, curving roads for an hour to Rte. 15 was ugly. Nothing felt right as she sat doubled over next to me, throwing up into zip lock bags while Stu tried to comfort the fussing Leah in the back of our tiny Honda Civic. That space is small to begin with, but when you add a puking mom and crying baby, well, it started to feel like I was one of the famed Chilean miners two miles underground, without food or water, running out of air and way too close to bodily functions. Tension congealed in the cabin, thick and viscous. I drove as fast I could. If I focused on the task of safely speeding down the interstate while rubbing Grace’s back, I would not have to process the agony gushing out of her periodically. Thank God, Leah slept for most of an hour in the middle of our trip through Hell.

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At certain awful moments Grace gasped, “I can’t do this.” My right foot just stepped harder on the accelerator, 80 and 85 mph on Route 70 East. I imagined the Maryland State Trooper pulling me over. I would simply let him or her draw their own conclusions from the emergency room in a phone booth scenario that we were. In times like this I have to shut off my empathy receptors. A switch unconsciously flicks to the off position, like butchering that beautiful deer earlier this month. You can’t maintain that emotional/spiritual connection and do the hard task at hand. The will must override the compassionate heart. The lovely lull was over, Bloggywogs. It was war in a car. I didn’t dare turn on the radio because we had passed the irritation threshold and were running out of oxygen. At her lowest, Grace reacted hostilely to Stu’s comment about a good night’s sleep helping with symptoms.

 

“Shut UP!” Then, after a moment of silence, “I’m sorry. That was mean.” It was the Absynnian Anthrax Flu demon talking first followed by the daughter I know and love. I felt more and more like Chilean miner #9, Marco, the part time goat herder, wishing I was with the goats right about now instead of slowly clawing for survival on Rte.195.

Leah woke up agitated and began crying again. Stu ran through his empty box of baby management tricks too quickly. Grace hissed out, “Sing to her. It doesn’t matter what your singing voice sounds like!”

Well, Stu complied and sang, “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round…. the baby on the bus goes whaaa, whaaa, whaaa, whaaaa, whaaaa, whaaaaaa….” but it was no good. Somehow the airport had moved a good ten miles farther east and we were going to explode from the extreme cabin pressure.

Stu was learning what I’d learned decades ago:  when the sickness and stress bubbles are erupting like champagne and battery acid in a Styrofoam cup, keep your head down and mouth shut. Nothing, I repeat, Nothing you say can possibly help. Even though Stu had trained to swim out of a submerged helicopter in pitch black water without freaking out,  he was not skilled in domestic warfare in a car. He had no chance.

The transit from one place to another was in full raging swing. From home that isn’t home any longer, to a place that is but not for long… Ft. Rucker, Alabama. From routine to controlled chaos. From formerly familiar to nearly hallucinogenic. From hard to impossible. Civilian reality to military mundanity. Those were just a few of the transitions whirling about the loaded down cherry red Civic with tan interior. Pressurized like an overinflated set of steel radial tires. From sick to well and back again. From pleasured expectation to sore butt reality with no rest stops in between.

We finally got to the departures ramp and circle at the terminal….Southwest, United, Air Tran, Delta. “Oh, Thank God!”  I ran in and procured a wheel chair for Grace. Stu hired a skycap to haul two huge bags and three small ones while he put Leah in her folding stroller. The problem was this:  there was no one left to push Grace in her wheelchair. I could not stay because the cops were ushering motorists away from the curb as soon as possible. I hugged her goodbye and exchanged “I love you”. She felt frail and small again, like a little girl. She leaned on the wheelchair and slogged forward toward the automatic doors where Stu was checking in the mammoth bags.

I pulled away breathing hard and deep, wishing I could take her pain and pressure off her shoulders, knowing full well that such things are what carve parents out of soapstone. Love sacrifices. True. And you never stop parenting. Amen.

 

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186. the lull latte

Image result for christmas landscapeIt’s a quiet Christmas morning. Frozen outside, a weak sun cannot melt the ice spots on our deck. Inside, the wood pellet stove fan’s whir is interrupted by the augur pushing more pellets into the hopper to burn. My bare ankles detect a chill at floor level just above the ridge of my new slippers. I adjust the stove’s setting a click higher as a sneeze sounds upstairs where my oldest daughter and wife sip tea and read books silently.  My youngest daughter sleeps behind me on a recliner after a tough night of coughing and sipping robitussin. And I, I want to memorialize gratitude on the blank document before me.

The grand baby Leah was off all  night as well. She had a wet sort of cough and a stuffy nose. At ten months of age she can’t have medications willy nilly, nor can she sleep with her binky in her mouth while snuffling through a stuffed nose. Something had to give last night, and that was her parents’ right to sleep. They held her upright and sat in a steamy bathroom on and off to ease her discomfort. As Grace cheerfully said this morning, “If anyone else prevented you from sleeping all night, you’d be upset and cranky. But when it’s your own baby, well, it doesn’t matter.” Simple truth: love sacrifices.

Several times over the past two days I have gazed at my granddaughter’s sparkling angelic face and smiled a joyous smile back at  her. She pulls her binky out of her four tooth grin and offers it to me with an outstretched little baby girl arm. Each time I think but don’t say, “Grace, thank you for not going right to work and delaying these moments for years or forever. What a great gift you have given us. As parents we did not have a choice. We  had to work up to, during, and after delivery. We lived on the edge, often upset and cranky with each other and with our station in life.  We could not be as resilient as  you. Thank you for this joy born of faith.”

“Thank you Stu for working without complaint or measuring to provide Grace and Leah this ideal time together. Thank you for who you are and who you choose to be in a world that clamors to divide your attention and loyalties. Thank you for loving God, my daughter, and my granddaughter so deeply.”

Grace, baby Leah and hubby Stu drove over to Stu’s good family this morning. Fortunately they live only three miles away so we don’t have custody cravings and clashes. They are good people, those Gallaghers. I want to thank them for putting family ahead of stuff, and for putting faith first in their family. Days like today are rich dividends paid on those investments. Not big material gains but subtle relational ones, for all the gifts exchanged mean nothing compared to the laughs, the smiles, the hugs and the love of family. “Thank you Dan and Joann for holding cracked family systems together and re-bonding the fractures. Thanks for  parenting again as grandparents. You are twice blessed.”

 

This year we really dialed it back on the gift giving, not because we had to. It was more a question of stewardship and priorities. We lack nothing. It’s an odd contradiction when you must really concentrate and take inventory to come up with a gift wish. After a few searching moments, I said, ” I could use a belt.” My wife bought me two. I’m full, Blogelves. Anything more and I will overflow in wasteful luxury. What I wanted was abundantly present before and around me– my faithful wife, my three fabulous daughters, my amazing son-in-law, and my precious granddaughter. All in harmonious peace.  Friends visited during the day, then we all went to church, opened presents and played a tough game of chess and later Scrabble. (I lost both… happily.) It’s all good.

So in the quiet of today comes the lull, the slow and easy break from the breakneck life we live. It’s the root of lullabye, a repeated lu-lu-lu sound that soothes children to sleep. I imagine Mary and Joseph lulling baby Jesus back to sleep in the brutal world they inhabited. Soothing sounds from a loving mother, better than robitussin and vodka, and before you know it the babe is rhythmically breathing, a little bird in its downy nest, a little lamb on its mother’s warm, fuzzy belly. The lull is a safe and satisfied place to be, a drainage ditch off the bayou of joy. You can bed down in the sweet long grass there like a fawn, safe and blessed. A pause in the struggle of survival. Today tastes like victory, like tiramisu and cheesecake with rich creamy coffee. It’s playing the X on a triple word space overlapping a double word line in a  seven letter word play fifty point bonus. Yeah, like that.

Yesterday at the coffee shop the coffee was free. I said to Andrea, “This must be what heaven is like.” She did not disagree. I told her I would initiate a pay it forward program all day long for coffee. She was unimpressed with my antilargesseness.  But it’s all good in the lull, the moment between inhale and exhale as oxygen hooks up on dates with blood cells in your lungs. Sure, there is more stress coming tomorrow. The world will erupt again in chaotic activity and conflicts of all sorts because this was too small or that was too large. Our first world problems will seep up to street level like sewer gases. But for the moment I’ll have the lull latte. Thank you.

185. Hemorrhaging quarts of vitalabrations

Being and doing are often at war with one another.  Doers do stuff. They leave footprints and fingerprints all over their worlds, all over history. They conceive and achieve, leaving museums and inventions and books and stuff behind their existence. Be’ers, as opposed to beers, might do things also, but primarily they are being human beings. The difference is about consciousness, a topic that my old timers group has been massaging lately. We are all nearly retired and/or fully retired therapists with over a century of clinical experience among us. We are mostly be’ers now, I think, getting around stiffly in our gaits, but there is a lot of wisdom in these arthritic roosters. Six guys in my living room; average age is 60. That totals 360 years of life experience huddled around one coffee table. Awesome but no more than a single rose or a snail’s spiraling shell.

By default and training, our Western minds focus on doing. Git’er done, boys! Our justice system, our mental health system, our political system hang on the concept of responsibility for behavior or doing.  Jurists try to figure out the just response to criminal actions/doings. Then they assign a commensurate punishment or other corrective treatment/doing. Guilt means you did it.  But how responsible is a free will? Is there even such a thing as a free will? How mitigating are the circumstances of one’s life? Likewise mental health clinicians want a checklist that removes doubt and ambiguity. They want a clean diagnosis to rule in while ruling out the rest.  Politicians want someone to blame other than themselves. Consequently we are all left raking the fine sand at Futile Beach. I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds poetic and dramatic. “Look! It’s Jay Gatsby raking the sand while gazing across the sound at Daisy Buchanan’s dock light. That is tragedy fit for a postcard.”

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We roosters don’t rush to conclusions or judgments so much as we amble around mysteries, dilemmas and paradoxes. We share our being. Sometimes that’s a daunting task, to simply reframe our quandaries or admit our limits instead of reaching for the crown of ‘smartest guy in the room’. Today we chatted about being transcendent, losing one’s self to find oneself. It’s a Christian concept and a Buddhist concept as well. The record of Western consciousness has been one of illuminating the unconscious, exposing and dethroning myths and symbols. Science usurped the throne of authority a long time ago in the West, but it can’t eliminate non-science issues. Science is limited by itself because it denies what it cannot prove conclusively. Shining a bright light on matter does not explain what remains unseen… Sometimes we see by not  looking; the thing comes to us when we stop stalking it.

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Terms like “stillness” arise. Joe speaks eloquently about the dilemma of words’ insufficiency to capture the truths of being. Ed recalls Masses Joe celebrated for the daft and delirious at the Restoration Center.  “It was still God meeting his people, though some were psychotic and others drooling. It was more than verbal communication.”  Joe retorts, “You liked it because there wasn’t a collection, Eddy.”  Friends laugh soothingly. Greg aligns and extends the narrative while condensing it. We nod, believing that we’re following what we believe they are saying about filters and clarity, six points on the same star. We don’t problem solve necessarily, but we don’t  dramatize either. Our task is about becoming more conscious with others and then floating on that consciousness like a beach ball. As Westerners we tend to think of consciousness as a river we float upon; there’s a source and a course and a final mouth. Westerners can’t seem to leave the concrete sequence of beginning, middle, and end. I believe Eastern mystics conceive of an ocean of unconsciousness with no destination. No illusions. Nothing and everything in that moment and place. Somehow embracing unconsciousness seems irresponsible to us highly responsible folks, even though we are speaking deeply about invisible, unprovable issues. Someone has to remain the designated driver, right?  But we persist and two hours evaporate as we feel full. But full of what?  Stillness, wonder, connection, reverence, spirit, curiosity. The coffee table might as well be an open fire in the dark woods. We sit around it that way, feeling and pondering the center of the star.

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The deeper you go into mankind’s cave of consciousness, the more you start to feel like Alice in Wonderland, pondering every word and concept being articulated. How can I simply be without knowing at the same moment that all else has ceased, turning out the lights of consciousness when the last idea has left? Where does that disembodied hand go once the light switch is flicked off? Oh causation and consequence, thou dost plague me!  Okay, where did that Elizabethan dwarf come from? Trippy. The next thing you know, talking cats and rabbits will appear. Just flow. Breathe. Be air, oxygen passing into my own blood stream, pumping through the arterial highway system that keeps my brain alive. Consciousness orders itself to cease. Float on nothingness. The only idea left is the unpunctuated void. Swirl past the graffiti, carvings, the pictographs, the cave paintings, back to the mere smudges of inhabitation. Say yes to the no, hold the purpose less ness. Be less.  Be no-ness. Just air vibrating after the guitar chord struck a moment ago over there. All vitalabrations.

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184. Gold Miners and Wise Men

King Midas, Rumpelstiltskin, and the Goose that laid the Golden Egg– these are myth and fairy tales that speak to gold and greed. There is a long association between the two. In these stories the pursuit of gold led to heartbreak, death, or an ironic killing of the gold machine. Some sort of destruction followed greed.  Storytellers and writers have valued these stories enough to keep them alive for centuries. Like Neil Young’s singer kept searching for a heart of gold, a miner for a heart of gold. I’m not sure if he ever found it. There’s the literal and the figurative, the fact and the fantasy.  By post 184 you are well aware of my preference.

Image result for gold mining reality tv show picturesThere are several reality shows on television based on gold seeking. They celebrate the  pioneer spirit of Americans who are chasing the rags to riches story in our highly technological world. It’s ironic that gold remains central to our economy and technology after thousands of years. It seems to exist in the exact right proportion to be both essential and difficult to come by in relationship to humankind’s ever expanding wants. It would not surprise me if the next mother lode is discovered on Mars and that Martian gold would draw humans deeper into space just as it drew explorers to the New World in the 16th century and Americans to California in the 1850’s.

Families carry their children while they toil for free in mercury-poisoned pits to pan gold in Ghana. Photo: Lisa Kristine, Lisa Kristine ©Gold seems to bring out the best and worst in humans. On the one hand its beauty, malleability and conductivity have been creatively exploited for many good purposes in art and technology and medicine. On the other hand its undisputed value as hard currency has fueled man’s greed for millennia. Gold has been used to glorify God in cathedrals, but the greedy human pursuit of gold is a story of blood, death and enslavement. For instance, African gold today is evidence of modern slavery. It is extracted from that tragic continent by imprisoned miners under the  hardened gaze of armed guards.  It makes me cringe to think that the value of this metal is held so much higher than the human lives expended to obtain it. I don’t even like to consider how much human misery was compelled by the production of my wedding band or my wife’s jewelry.

Image result for nelson mandela picturesBut I’m not focusing on real gold mines today. Rather, I’ve been thinking about the golden veins that run through the wrinkled gray quartz of our minds.  Jackpot memories and associations that wind about in the neural wire mazes of the brain contain some of the same gold qualities that are in play here– purity, conductivity, beauty, malleability. Which brings me to Nelson Mandela, a gold mine of a human being. (He was the same age as my father, who would have been 95 this year. ) Why would a white kid from the suburbs of D.C. care about a Black African political figure?  Probably for the same reasons that I cared about Martin Luther King, Jr. domestically. He was another gold mine in my mind. Something was wrong in our world, not just a little wrong, but drastically wrong like raging cancer.  It had to be amputated from the body of civilization or else a limb, a tribe, a continent would die. And these two men stood up to it with truth and light and laser faith, like skilled miners in the depths of the earth. They were underdog Davids versus monstrous institutional Goliaths. They operated surgically with words as their scalpels, cutting up the well defended giants who had every advantage.

A five year old could see the injustice of apartheid but a fifty year old could not… because that older man had grown up in the soupy illogic of inherited racism. If you cook facts under a steady low flame of ignorance, over time all the elements will cook down and mix together into something else, which I believe is institutional racism. Isms become so familiar and warm and sticky, they are as hard to get rid of as pine sap on one’s hands. Turpentine can cut the grip of it, but the smell, like the smell of blood, lingers.

Image result for mandela speaking to congress picturesBoth wise men avoided  cooked down political soup slop, and instead deconstructed the garbage they were fed by the authorities of their day. They bored through the  walls of inequality, discrimination, and apartheid on separate continents with similar intensity. They never met, though MLK tried to get a visa to visit South Africa in the early sixties. No surprise, he was denied access…the light was not permitted in the darkness by those invested in the darkness.  By the time Mandela spoke to the U.S. Congress in 1990, Martin Luther King, Jr. was long dead…killed by that same low flame of ignorance. Branded as a communist, an anarchist, a rabble rouser, a puppet of darker forces. Funny how villains of propaganda become heroes in truth. Propaganda is fool’s gold; truth is real gold to the wise.

It always seems to be that tragedy polishes and refines the gold in our lives. A worm eaten frame of injustice around a haloed saint seems to make that halo brighter. A dark veil makes you squint all the harder for the rays of light that pierce the crosshatched fabric behind it. Then quite dramatically one day the veil burns to ash. Freedom is all the sweeter and brighter and glorious after a long absence. The Berlin Wall crumbled under the sledgehammers of free people.  Two systems had met on that line– democracy and totalitarianism, messy truth versus controlled lies. It always seems to go this way… when our love of truth and freedom is not held responsibly, in rushes fear driven deceit and ever escalating control. When that totalitarian control is finally shucked off, what glorious joy the newborn truth radiates.

Wise men don’t wait for injustice to celebrate the truth. They don’t require any prison term to enjoy their freedom. No, with each breath they inhale truth and exhale joy, following God’s star.

183. GWH Leaveth

So I’m standing over the illegal spike buck and unwilling to take photographic evidence of the kill. I thought, ‘No, I can’t have any evidence of this deer or big trouble could erupt.’ I called Clark back, “Hey, the she was a he.”

“Oh no, it’s that spike buck I saw yesterday. I should’ve told you about him. Dang it, Quazi.” He’s taken to calling me Quasimoto from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I have no idea why and suspect he doesn’t either. “For now just get away from it and I’ll be over with the tractor.”

Ten minutes later he arrived on foot and we inspected the shem drag stag. “Yep, it’s illegal alright.”

“What are my options?”

“Well, I can get a hatchet and we can cut the spikes off. That’s illegal if you get caught. You can just not report it and that’s illegal if you get caught. And then you can call the Game Warden and see what he wants to do. I think it’s a $50 fine and the loss of the deer. You think about it while we get the tractor.”

In the meantime we gutted the deer and drained off the blood. Not a pretty sight, my blushing blogoiters. I held its heart in my hand briefly. It was larger than my grip. All sorts of organs and shapes huddled in a steaming pile. “The buffet is now open, Coyotes.”

We slogged slowly back to the house and the outbuilding that overhangs the tractor. No rush. We had some coffee and I decided to call the Game Warden. Clark was sure the spikes were five inches. I was sure they were three. Off we went with the tractor to retrieve the carcass. I measured the spikes with a dollar bill, which I know is six inches long. Exactly half way up the bill the spikes ended. Clark was unimpressed. “It’s illegal, Quazi.”

I read the hunting manual about Mistake Kills and figured that was what I had on my hands. The fine is only $25 and the loss of the carcass. I thought that was fair, so I called. It was around 9:30 by now and Officer Dustin Bender said he’d be by the house at noon. Okay. We left the deer in the front yard near the road.

The house/cabin is being remodeled– new roof, siding, an added bedroom, porch, laundry room. Plus new windows and cabinets. Around the perimeter was a mess of roofing pieces, soffit cuts, vinyl siding pieces, and various other pieces of construction waste. For an hour and a half we gathered up the pieces and sorted them into aluminum and scrap metal and burnable junk. The difference was amazing. Suddenly it looked like someone actually lived there.

We threw down on lunch– pork loin, sweet potato, applesauce, and cheese. Good grub for hunter gatherers like us. At exactly noon the Conservation Officer arrived and proceeded to back up in order to load my deer. As he opened his truck door I could see he was all ready to write up the citation. I said, “Hey, uh, before you write that citation, would you mind measuring the spikes on the deer. We measured three inches. “Sure”, he replied and took out an official looking metal rule. “Three inches on the money. HMMM.”

I looked at him. Clark looked at me. I looked at Clark. Officer Bender looked at the deer and then at us, looking at him. “Tell you what, fellas. Since you called us and you’re trying to do the right thing, we’ll just call this an antlerless deer. You put your doe tag on it and keep it. Okay?”

“Alriiiiight!” I smiled. “Now I can feel good about the shot. I hit him at about 50 yards but its ears were bigger than its spikes.”

“Oh yeah, I know what you mean. Honest mistake. No problem. You guys have a good day.” And away he went. I was tickled.

“Well, let’s get butchering”, I offered. Clark brought the tractor back out of the shed. As he had put it away earlier he’d said, “If I put it away then the Game Warden will surely let you keep the carcass.” He was wrong about the spikes but right about the tractor parking.

Now this is grisly stuff, my blog puffs. If you have a weak stomach or like to hug puppies, you should walk away from the monitor now. If you are still reading, then you have given implied consent from here on. We wrapped a chain around the neck of the young buck and hoisted the carcass into the air while attached to the tractor bucket. Not a pretty picture, let me assure you. But it gets worse. Clark gathered up the knives and hacksaw for the butchering and we began the brutal and ugly process. A psychic switch is thrown to stay task focused and not relational with this creature.

“Cut the legs off, Quazi.” I complied and put them in a bag for my dog Johnny.

We cut the fur around its neck and pulled down while cutting the thin membrane between muscles and fur coat. The neck is dozens of maroon muscles that allow the animal to turn its head and nod and shake. I focused on muscles and not on the entire entity. Never looking at the innocent and beautiful face.

Eventually we had peeled all the skin off, leaving a mass of drying flesh hanging from a chain. Clark lowered the bucket and we began cutting out the backstrap muscles that run along the spine. Those are prime cuts because they are not heavy duty muscles, therefore they are tender. Then we cut off each shoulder, which was remarkably easy to accomplish.
The carcass was disappearing quickly as Clark sawed the rump away from the rest of the spine and rib cage. I was supposed the catch it, but I did not. The rump fell onto the gravel and dirt beneath us. “Tenderizer” I justified.

In an hour we were cleaned up and had venison where a young buck had been. This was a clear example that the sum of the parts is not equal to the whole. The buck has been separated from his life force, then his guts, then his other parts. But he did not die in vain. He died in Warfordsburg.

182. The Great White Hunter Cometh

Tomorrow night I return to the woods in pursuit of the venison I did not shoot last year due to a pair of small oversights– no bullet in the chamber and no doe tag. This year I am fully ready to slay a buck and a doe. I have ammo and will load in the light. I have had a year to ponder my errors, like the St. Louis Cardinals. I have my doe tag and I will not be denied again. It’s time to detach from the modern clock-driven world and re-attach to nature. So I’m packing my boots and socks and sweater and gloves. Bullets. Coffee. Okay, I’m good. A book to read in the evenings. And an attitude of reverence.

My buddy Clark got me into this business. I had been perfectly content not to hunt all my life. Then he got on me like a used vacuum cleaner salesman on an aborigine cave dweller. He persuaded me that I had to hunt or die missing one of the wonders of life. So I had to have this experience that had evaded me for 55 years. I ran the sweeper in my mental cave and had to have one. After I was successful and killed a fat doe two years ago, I became drunk with success.

Now I’m a drunk hunter with a vacuum cleaner salesman in a cabin, figuratively speaking. I have venison visions– deer approach furtively while I scope them from a tree stand 300 yards away. I site in the 10 point buck and KABOOOOOM, the 270 rifle report echoes across the hills as the buck drops. I run over the scrub and fences into the field to claim my fallen stag. Adrenaline pumps through every pore of my being as the animal’s heart ceases beating. It’s a strangely spiritual experience watching the life force leave one animal so that another may live. It’s brutal, grisly, and messy. And then it gets worse with the gutting and butchering that comes later. Through it all I want to honor the animal that has been slain. I think of the Indians and how they used all of a deer out of reverence and need. That’s not practical today. Besides, what do you do with a deer leg? My dog did enjoy the last one I gave him. But four legs? I could give them as Christmas presents to folks with dogs. “Something small and funky for your dog, Marilyn.”
“Ewww!!!!”

We leave the carcass for the coyotes to fight over. It must be like winning the lottery for them when a huge unearned meal drops mysteriously out of the blue in the middle of their woods. Other animals that winter outside will take what they need from the carrion we leave. The life cycle continues and death plays a critical part. Birds, bears, rats, or bobcats can all drop in for a bite. I don’t think they take turns like humans at a deli counter. No, for animals it’s the quick and the dead in the woods. For humans it’s the patient and armed who survive to blog about it all.

And blog I will. Compared to killing wild animals, it’s so much more civilized to hygienically write about hunting. Like the cave men who scribbled on walls before zealous vacuum cleaner salesmen converted them to new religions. Those were the forerunners of hunting blogs. I know smart aleck archeologists claim that the artists tried to gain power over the spirit of their prey by drawing pictures on cave walls, but how silly an idea is that. Some of the scrawlings have recently been translated by hip anthropologists. One such sketch was found to translate, “Thad miss bison. He suck.” Another seemed to say simply, “OOps” as a hunter was gored by a rhinogiraffeasaurus. It has been theorized that the cave scribe was not actually a hunter. Careful handwriting analysis determined that he was one armed, apparently, and had a seizure disorder that caused him to fall into the fire pit frequently, which is how he discovered the medium of charcoal. He was half shaman, half artist, and half ambidextrously mad. Don’t you believe a word of this.

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Two days later… I have returned from the cabin in the mountains where Clark resides sometimes. Day one was not a good time for the GWH. I saw only one deer the entire day, and I was out from 5:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. with a break for lunch. As dusk was coming over the ridge, a large doe dashed across the dirt road I was walking down. I drew up on her but decided not to pull the trigger since I could not get a good angle on her left shoulder. Twelve hours of nothing does not prepare you for the five second rush that is rifle hunting. I was cold, surprised, and on foot. Not the best combination for success.

Meanwhile Clark was farther down the road, deeper in the woods. He had only seen three deer all day, and those were in the last hour. He showed me his tree stand and suggested that I sit in it come the next morning.

So this morning I did just that. I watched the woods come to light again, like watching a very slow Polaroid picture develop from nearly total black into rusty leaves below India ink tree silhouettes that rise up to a pale blue sky streaked with early morning orange cloudstreams. The squirrels got busy in the dry leaves and made a ruckus, enough thrashing noise to be confused with the approach of deer. After a while I heard the stronger, longer thrashing that signified several deer were behind me. Unfortunately they were directly behind me, and I could not turn with my gun without spooking them. So I sat and waited for them to come to me. They played little reindeer games and left before I could get one of them in my scope.

Now I began to wonder if these would be the only deer I’d see today. I determined to take my next shot, even if it was not an ideal angle. Maybe twenty minutes later I heard a single deer treading slowly through the leaves about 50 yards over to my right. It appeared to be a decent sized single doe weaving between trees in no particular hurry. I scoped her and then waited for her to walk from behind an oak tree and into my crosshairs. When she did, I fired and down she went. ‘Well that was easy’, I thought to myself. I jumped down from the stand, reloaded just in case, and walked over to the fallen animal.

I called Clark to let him know I had one. He said I should sit tight and he’d bring the truck over at 8:00 a.m. Great.
After I hung up my phone, I began dragging the deer over for a cell phone picture, when horrors, two spindly spikes appeared between her ears!!! She was a he, a spike buck. I had an illegal deer on my hands and Lou Reed singing “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” in my brain. “Doot doot doot, dootadoot doot doot doot dootadoot doot…”

Whatever shall I do? I know, I’ll continue this blog post to #183.