0400 - My feet hit the floor and I started donning my waterfowl clothes.. nervous as a cat in room full of rockers, this was to be my first trip out..my first excursion to anywhere other than a doctors office or hospital in the last three weeks. The ordeal of being filleted like a catfish was starting to resolve. My drains had all come out two days prior, my compression devices adjusted and refitted, my stitches are all still in and my restriction list still pretty long. But those pals of mine at Silver Creek Kennel and Hunt Club - my pit partners had all assured me they had it solved. I needed to go outside, I needed to see birds. I needed to waterfowl hunt. It was going to be camera only hunting day for me. Still too soon after surgery for using a shotgun. Hell I still can't carry a milk jug or raise my arms above my head, or twist or about a thousand other things the docs seem to think are a bad idea. But "I promise you, we'll make it work " Adam Rutkowski, my right guy Friday and best friend assured me.
The was the 0415 stop at the gas station for coffee and extra smokes.. a parking lot filled with trucks that were holding dog boxes and pulling boats covered in blinds. Hugs all around and where you goings the topic of discussion at the coffee pots and gas pumps.
North wind a blowin, it's raining, temps swinging down - it a perfect morning for ducks.
I was going home...finally after this craziness with the surgery and MS flare right before the surgery, I was going home to the woods and the water to do what I love.
Oak leaves skittered in the wind across the wet blacktop as I hurtled through the pre dawn rain , KDHX community Radio blaring it's Earth Songs Program...The perfect pre dawn Sunday music for heading to the woods.. as the music drifted around me, I started seeing those familiar vehicles from past 430am drives through the river bottoms during waterfowl season, in familiar places. The various trucks loaded down with blinds and boats flashed our headlights at each other in the "good luck/glad to see you out" friendly good morning greeting at the turn offs, field gates and cuts off the main road to everyone's favorite waterfowl hole and boat ramp..recognizing each others vehicles from countless rainy Sunday mornings in the past. Finally..finally..waterfowl season is here... birds are flying, dogs are fetching and I'm going to love being cold and wet. These are the winter mornings and traditions that I live for.
Maybe it was a little leftover pain medicine from the night before but I could have sworn Stacey Houston- outdoor sistah , fellow Prois staffer and WON Gun poked me in the ribs and giggled as I closed in on the big river bridge "Girl Girl your going out to play at last" ....then there was a suspicious crinkling sound, the scent of flaming hot cheetos and a stray zebra stripe mitten that I was pretty sure Mia Anstine, another Prois staffer, WON Gun, and outdoor sistah had stuck in my blind bag when I wasn't looking..Mia giggling too, raising a cup of GOOD coffee in a toast to life out of doors with Stacey. Yeah, my outdoor sisters were along for the ride this morning...
I felt a tear slide down my cheek as realized how blessed I truly was to have the outdoor friends and sisters that I have. As the the tears tracked silently down my face..I'm pretty sure it was Hawk Bow that whapped me on the back of the head and bellowed " Stop that snivelin', cowboy up, pay attention or you're gonna hit that big ol buck up there that's getting ready to hop out in front of you. "
Standing just outside the tree line, at he edge of the winter wheat field along side me he stood, thick necked, wide beamed, head up - giving me the courtesy of nod vs a smashed front fender as I drove by. He knew he was safe from me today. My mind was on the ducks and geese.. I'd look for his antlers come spring.
Fresh coffee, sizzling bacon and my joint custody lab Piper met me at the door of the club house...
I was home. Miserable cold rain, racin northwest wind..but we were anxious...one last double check of the weather, the radar, and the legal shooting time hurriedly we piled on gear , loaded decoys, blinds, brush panels , my special layout goose decoy chair all thrown into the trucks as we headed to the pits, knowing...just knowing it was going to be ducky morning..nasty weather, a front sliding in from the north and even before light the high squeaks squeals and scrabbles of high flying giant strings of snows could be heard.
Rigged up in the chair decoy, customized for my inability to raise my arms , cameras secured in the rain I lay back and listened, and felt and watched. Life was good...ducks were fallin' , dogs were fecthin' and I was back where I belonged.
This is good medicine...better medicine than big pharma can ever provide. This healing - outside the confines of hospitals and homes. This my lifeblood itself.
Let the healing commence!