Watching Hunters

A memory from an old journal of mine…

I am sitting uncomfortably, strapped with my back to a pine, thirty-odd feet off the ground. It’s dark and cold, not yet five a.m. A periodic wind pushes the branchless length of trunk this way and that and cuts through the layers of clothing I wear. The worst part is my feet feel like ice sculptures in my boots. I can’t feel my toes.

I’m on a deer hunt, this autumn of ’91, but just as an observer. It’s bow season and I am unarmed. The men I’ve come with are spaced in hopeful stillness across several miles of night-dark Georgia forest, participants in a ritual much older than recorded time. Hunters. Predators. There is camaraderie, even when everyone is alone, frozen, quiet. Camaraderie building to beers to be shared, observations spoken, well-meant insults inflicted. But now there’s just stillness and darkness and cold.

Uncomfortable as I am, I have a thrilling sense of connectedness, an awareness of how alive I am, and how alive the woods are around me.  This place, this rural, undeveloped parcel of land, still dreams the deep dreams of wilderness, and I, not back in my bed partitioned from the earth’s breath by walls with their own vented, heated breath, am a part of those dreams. Continue reading

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