Thankful…and Then Some

Thanksgiving is over. We spent the day with my parents and sister at their house where we overate, played video games, and built things out of LEGO with the boys. It was, all-in-all, a very nice day.
But somewhere along the line, we got a phone call from my brother, which pushed the quality over the day from ‘nice’ to ‘excellent.’ You see, while the family was gathered in NY, he is in Texas, awaiting orders to deploy to Kuwait with his National Guard unit. His wife and mother-in-law had driven down there to see him for Thanksgiving, but he was able to call us. He spoke with everyone in turn, including my oldest son.

It was nice to hear from him and talk, even if it was just for a few minutes. Especially not knowing when we’ll get the opportunity to talk again, as he isn’t set to return home around this time next year.

We ate early since my sister had to leave for work around 3:30, and I needed to catch a nap before I left for work myself. My wife, kids and I left there a little after four, and I crashed on the couch while the boys watched cartoons and played. I don’t remember when I woke up exactly, but when I did, there was a few “Happy Thanksgiving” text messages from people which I responded to.

One though, was a complete surprise. A message from my friend Chris. Those of you who have been around a while might remember Chris from a brief post I did a while back: When I transported him to the hospital

The text simply read “Happy Thanksgiving.” Now, while he’s a friend of mine, this is literally the first text message I’ve ever gotten from, and I’d never sent him one either. Honestly, I don’t remember when we exchanged numbers. I thought it was a little odd to get a message from him, since we don’t see each on a regular basis, much less actually hang out or pal around. Still, you don’t let a greeting like that go by unnoticed. I responded in kind, and got another message from him. We texted for a few moments, and he updated me on the situation which led to his being transported to the hospital with me as the driver, a year or so ago. It was nice to know what he’d been up to and that he was doing better than he had been the last time I had seen him.

Then, he said something that I never, ever thought I’d have said. After he thanked me again for helping him that night, he told me “You helped save a life that night.”

In my line of work, and given all of the experience I’ve had with the ambulance and fire departments, I like to think that there have, in fact been a few instances where I’d been involved in lifesaving activities. Certainly one or two come to mind, but when you hear it coming from a childhood friend…it rings a little differently.

We wrapped up our conversation, and I started getting ready for work. I thought about Chris’s messages, and it got me thinking about all of the men and women who do jobs like that on a daily basis.

I work with men and women in law enforcement who are the most selfless people in the world. Along side them are the firefighters, EMS, dispatchers, corrections officers, and many others who contribute to the health and well being of humanity whenever they can, and that goes for the volunteers as well as the professionals.

So, along with the obvious thanks I have for a happy, healthy family and a decent job which I love very much, I am also grateful for the fact that I can be a part of a group of people who make a difference, not just to strangers at car accidents, but to our very friends and neighbors, even when they look you straight in the face from an ambulance stretcher and say “I’m not coming out of this alive.” The first response family is a huge one, and it includes some of the most dedicated, professional people I’ve ever had the privilege to know, and I am eternally thankful that I get a chance to live and work alongside them whenever I can.

 

 

I am Not a Good Hunter.*

I love hunting. I very much enjoy hunting small game, but every year at this time, the coveted rifle season opens.
I look forward to it all year long. I get a chance to get out into the woods by myself, and relax. Simply take some ‘me’ time. For a few hours every time I go out, nothing matters but what I’m out doing.

The thing is, I’m absolutely terrible at hunting, especially deer. I lack patience, and will often move from a spot long before I should, and be moving around when I should be sitting still. I don’t like the extreme cold, so when the temperatures are right for the deer to be out moving around, I stay in bed.

As much as I enjoy the sport, I am truly, truly lousy at it.

Last Saturday’s opening day hunt is a testament to my terribleness.

It started later than I like it to. I usually like to get into the woods long before sunup, but I was working on ambulance call until 6am. If no calls came in, I was out the door at 05:59:59. None did, so I packed up my gear, and was out the door. By the time I reached the spot where I like to hunt, the sun was up.

I parked my car, and cut into a field where I immediately kicked up three or four doe. No big deal, I didn’t have a doe tag, let ’em run….except…they ran DIRECTLY into the woods where I was headed, snorting and spreading the word that I was there. My hunt, I thought, was over before it had even started. Still. In I went. I made for the tree line, and started up a path which headed to a field where I like to sit for a few hours. The leaves and undergrowth were dry, so stealth was out of the question. I slowly picked my way through the trees up the trail when I started to hear the dreaded squirrels.

You see, for those of you that don’t hunt, the squirrel is a terrible creature. Capable of sounding like the antlered king of the forest as it scampers through the woods, It is responsible each year for more spikes in blood pressure than being pulled over by the police.
The first few times I heard the leaves rustle, I stopped and listened. “It’s a buck” I thought “Sure as hell, its one hell of a……goddamn it.” Squirrel. Every time.

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About an hour into my little walk through the woods, I found a place to take a small break. A downed pine tree. I sat for a while, and had a small snack. Off to my left, I hear the skittering again. I listen, and its stationary. Another freakin’ squirrel. I stood, squared away my kit, and decided to take a leak before I moved on. So I did. I dug through my layers of clothing, did my business, and prepared to set off.

The undergrowth rustled again, this time, accompanied by a stomp. WTF? Squirrels don’t stomp? Oh….shit, that’s a deer!

I knelt down and peered through a short stand of scrub pines. I see legs. Deer legs. Another stomp. There’s three or four deer, less than 40 yards away from me. An easy shot if they cleared the trees and entered the path. The sounds in the undergrowth stopped. Another stomp.

All of a sudden, a realization hit me. I was mere feet from where I had just relieved myself, and deer have a fantastic sense of….. *SNORT!* ……smell.

Damn it.

All of a sudden, they winded me. All of the animals in front of me bolted, never once even showing me if one of them was even a buck, much less giving me anything to shoot at.

Hunt all but over.

Still, I wasn’t sure when my next chance to get out was, so I pressed on, dejected. I found a nice rock to sit on for a while near some massive old oak trees, but nothing ever came along. Behind me, I started to hear something large moving around. I never got a visual on it, but it had to be one of the deer I had spooked. I started to stalk it, just in case it happened to be my quarry. As I did, I started hearing MORE noise, off to my right. Something else was coming up the path.

There’s a golden rule with hunting- never use your rifle scope to ‘glass’ anything. That is, its not binoculars, so don’t treat it like it is. Thankfully, with firearms safety being a massive thing in my life, I did not ‘glass’ this second noise, and its a good thing I didn’t, because it turned out to be another hunter.

Now, here’s where I take a little bit of solace.

See, as I mentioned, and have proven- I’m a lousy hunter….but there are those out there that are MUCH worse than I am. I watched the other hunter come up the path, and it was obvious that he had heard the same noise I had, we were essentially stalking the same animal. I stood still in the middle of the trail and watched him. Now, when I hunt, I dress with the blaze orange. I’m visible to other hunters…or so I thought. This guy, around fifty yards from me, was so focused on the noises ahead of him, that he never even saw me, another hunter, standing in the open wearing blaze orange. It was right there that I decided my hunt was, in fact over.

I made my way back home for a cup of coffee and a nice, long nap before I reported to work where I would largely exaggerate the details of my hunt, and leave out the embarrassing factoid that I had blown myself up with a little bit of wee when I spoke with my coworkers.

….If you see any of them, don’t say anything.

~AD

*Please do not bother to lecture me on how terrible hunting is or why I’m a savage for doing it. I don’t judge your hobbies, nor do I expect to change your mind with a scathing diatribe, please extend to me the same courtesy. Thank you.

 

It’s Over. I’m Back.

So if anyone’s still around, I took an extended break from this blog, on purpose this time.
Right around the last time I wrote an update, the U.S. Election was starting to heat up. I took a hiatus because it was way too tempting to come in here and start writing about it.

I even started a few posts that were related to the election and the candidates, but I realized that as a virtual nobody in the world of politics, my voice would be little more than a whisper in a room full of shouting.

I backed out, not wanting to clutter the readers of my blog with yet another politically oriented post.

There was, of course plenty of other things to talk about, but the spectre of politics was always there. Its been hanging over our heads like a storm cloud for months, and I really didn’t want to deal with the temptation of getting into it.

But now its over. Kind of. At least we’re at the point now where we know how it ended. Now we just have to clean up the mess we’ve been making for the last eighteen months. We need to wait a few more weeks for the initial emotional response to fade and we as a nation return to business as usual.

I will say simply this on the matter, than I’m gonna go back to my own ‘business as usual.’

We all have our own opinions on how the election went. We cast our votes, or our non-votes (which is a perfectly legitimate decision if you ask me) and stepped back to see how things shook out. For some, there’s fist-pumping joy. For others, head-hanging despair. For even others still, there’s a tumultuous sense of disbelief at the entire mess that was this cycle.

But the decision has been made. No amount of finger-pointing, or name-calling will change that. Yesterday is over, and how we act TODAY will matter tomorrow to our children. Will your children see you rioting in the streets because you didn’t get your way? Will your children see you handle defeat with grace and a newfound resolve to champion your cause? What lesson will they take when they turn the pages in their history books to see how their parents reacted to such a debacle that was the 2016 election?

As for me, on election night I was at work and an exuberant young student came up to me.

“Sir, can I ask you, who did you vote for?”

I told him a quick story.

When I was a little boy, my father took me to the polling place on election night. I can’t remember if it was a presidential or local election or what. We went into the booth, he pushed a few buttons and pulled a lever. When we came out, I asked him “Daddy, who did you vote for?”
His response was the same one I gave to the student at work. “When you’re in that booth, whomever you vote for is nobody’s business but your own.”

You probably won’t ever know where I landed in this election. You could try to guess, but does it matter? Is it really worth the effort? That’s not why I started this blog. Its not why I became a part of this online community where we share ideas, tell stories, and swap everything from recipes to parenting tips. Yeah, from time to time current events or political issues will become the topic of discussion, but when its this big, I think it should be a private matter and I’m not out to change any minds or influence anyone.

So. Politics be damned. AD is back to blogging.