Saturday, July 23, 2016

Country Girls and Hunting Trips

Today, I passed a field on the way home where a combine moved up and down long rows, cutting hay or perhaps barley; it’s too early for wheat I think. It made me recall a childhood memory.

I was 7 or 8 and down at my Aunt Millie’s house swimming in her pond. Uncle Jonas was outside with some of the farm hands preparing for a weekend hunting trek. Uncle Jonas and Aunt Millie owned over a 1,000 acres of rich east Texas farmland. They had all the latest farm equipment—plows and combines and plenty of workers.

The men—and the boys who were old enough—were preparing for a hunting trip that night. With an air of adventure and purpose, they loaded their pickup trucks with food and gear. They usually hunted in the deepest parts of the woods, an area they called Foggy Bottoms, guaranteed to be overrun with snakes and ticks.

Over fifty hound dogs danced around in the moonlight in an excited ballet they always did before any such endeavor. The noise and commotion was deafening and I watched on curiously from a pond across the road wondering at the strange ritual.

What could make a man leave the comfort of his warm living room and traipse out into dark, dangerous woods with over a dozen men and boys and 50 hound dogs just to shoot a few raccoons and coyotes?

I still live in a small rural town where young girls wear Levi’s fastened with nickel-plated belt buckles in the shape of Texas. The boys are tall and lanky from years of pitching hay. Boys that grew up taking midnight journeys with their uncles and fathers into deep woods on dark nights accompanied by a legion of hounds, howling at the moon and coyotes.

You shun being thought of as ‘country’ when you’re a teen. You hate being associated with these simple folks, but the older I get, the more I realize how much a part of me these sights and sounds are. Maybe it’s time to embrace my roots and stop running from them. Once we acknowledge where we came from, we begin to really see who we are. The world comes into perfect view.

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