It’s opening weekend here in Texas. As sunlight creeps over places near and far, the migration begins. Like ducks cupping their wings for a landing, they begin to arrive. Clacking trucks bring nephews and cousins, sons and friends as if I’ve been blowing a boy call for all to hear. Some travel hundreds of miles and others cross our small town to take over my home.
Young men go in and out trailing all things camo along their path. There are guns to clean, decoys to organize, and tires to kick. Out on the back deck one of the oldest is teaching another to blow a duck call. “This is how we call in the timber of Arkansas,” I hear him say.
And don’t forget the dogs. There’s Leroy and Deetz and July. Because all hunters come with their duck retrieving dogs in tow, and they’re not just dogs. They’re family.
I’m the odd ball out on this one. The lone survivor never bitten by this waterfowl bug. I have no desire to rise before the rooster crows and wade through frigid water. No need to fill the sky with the quacking tunes of a call in hopes the birds will like what the hear. And much to my husband’s chagrin, camo will never be fashion for me.
I used to dread it. Just last year I lay flat on my face in the shop exclaiming to my friend, “When will this season be over!” Because this loooooonnnnnnnggggggg season of duck hunting is messy, and I’m usually the one cleaning up after they have their fun.
I sweep the house as the last truck clatters away and smile at the remnant pile on my kitchen floor.
I stoop low to push the pile into the pan and notice I’m smiling. Somewhere along the journey of this year I let go of dreading the extra work this season causes me, and found a way to embrace the excitement in the air.
I drop remants in the trash and give thanks. For boys becoming young men, the music of duck calls, camouflage, laughter, coverations about the difficulty of adulting, trucks, boats, warm goodbye hugs, and dare I say it.
… even the smell.