C.W. Gusewell


A hunt makes so many other moments possible

This morning I awoke fully rested and refreshed. And I will do my best to remember that sensation.

Because tomorrow, with the opening of the Missouri wild turkey season, there will commence an unbroken 10-day series of 4:30 a.m. risings.

The tom turkeys will greet each succeeding dawn bright-eyed and alert, cheered by the prospect of spending the next several hours mating.

It’s hard work, but this time of year demands it.

The difference between the birds and those of us who hunt them is that their enthusiasm for their duty lasts until all the hens are bred and on the nest.

Whereas our thoughts, by only the third or fourth morning, have begun to focus more and more on breakfasts in country cafes.

Each spring some effort is needed to ready my little Ozark cabin for friends’ arrivals. One comes from Seattle, another and some years two from Indiana, two from Florida and generally one or two from the city.

We drove down a couple of weeks ago to restart the primitive plumbing system, which must be shut off and drained each fall to prevent the pipes from freezing.

Evidently I’d bungled the job last November because when I plugged in the power we immediately heard the splatter from leaks under a sink and against a wall.

It helps to have a long history in the neighborhood. Tom, a many-talented friend I’ve depended on in countless emergencies, telephoned me in the city three days later to say the problem was fixed.

Limbs blown down by winter storms had blocked the woodland lane from the cabin to the nearest pond. John, my neighbor across the country road, said he’d gladly clear the way.

The red wasps that colonized the storage shed last year were back again, but a few blasts from a spray can have finished them.

All the far-flung hunters are safely gathered now. The only uncertainty is whether the gray fox vixen – or perhaps one of the females from her litter of two springs ago – will be back to birth kits under the cabin again.

Today will be devoted, as last night was, to catching up – to reciting again our memories from nearly a half lifetime of friendships.

Then tomorrow, as the first light of morning pales the sky behind the trees, we’ll sit in wrapping stillness, listening for the barred owls and turkey gobblers to announce the day.

And that’s always a fine moment.

But it’s only the excuse that brings us together for all the rest.