September 13, 2013

Strength in what remains behind

I was in a meeting at work yesterday and the discussion centered around an upcoming event.  In the middle of the conversation, someone pulled out a calendar and exclaimed "oh wait!  we can't have the event on that's the opening day of deer season!"  My supervisor, who recently moved to the Midwest from the West Coast, was dumbfounded.  Evidently deer season is not a hot meeting topic in California.
My dad (on left) with his boss, late 1960's
But where I come from, hunting season just about trumps all.  Living out on the prairie, hunters took the Bible, particularly Ecclesiastes, very seriously:  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.  That meant a season for fishing, a season for duck hunting, a season for pheasant hunting and a season for deer hunting!
My dad and my brother, @ 1976.  I think the gun is taller than my brother
I was sorting through some old pictures recently, and came upon these pictures of my dad.  He was a man's man--he loved to be outside, on the go, hunting, fishing, camping, traveling.  He worked hard and he played hard.  And he always had a slightly dangerous twinkle in his eye that made you wonder what adventure he was dreaming up next!  He taught both of my brothers how to hunt and fish, and as I watch the hunting season begin I can't help thinking about him and missing him.
Father and son, early '70s
But hunting and fishing wasn't just for sport.  We ate everything Dad and the boys brought home--venison steak, fried trout, pheasant simmered in cream sauce with apple cider and mushrooms, all delicious dishes that stretched our grocery budget and made us appreciate the offerings of the earth.  I must confess, though, I turned up my nose at goose---obviously an acquired taste that I never managed to acquire. 

This picture makes me smile.  My brother is so proud, and you can see my dad and his boss were really enjoying the moment.  And that's the way life should be.  Moments of joy, that last forever in our hearts.  Wordsworth knew this when he wrote his poem Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.  Because even though nothing can bring back those precious times with our dad, my siblings and I find strength in what remains behind--beautiful memories and a strong family.

Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.

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