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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Eve’

We'll see, won't we?

I was issued a hall pass for the day before Christmas Eve … are you jealous yet? Just one day, so close to home was the number-one criterion. Someplace undiscovered was my second priority. Hmmmm. Tough list already.

A chance glimpse at one of the dozens of maps lying around the shop sealed the deal: a famous steelhead river beckoned … well-known for its aquatic denizens, its side draws and finger canyons might hold valley quail and chukars. And this time of year, if I encounter anyone it’ll be a lonely, shivering steelheader not a bird hunter.

I’ll be celebrating, in a way. Not only is it the day before we quaff eggnog and finish decorating the tree. It’s just one day removed from the winter solstice. The longest night of the year, followed by the shortest day.

Our hunter ancestors feared the dark, long nights. We who live in homes, not caves, merely tolerate the inconveniences. But we revel in the longer days, even if the sun only gives us one more minute of its presence each day, even if those days portend the end of hunting season, even if in one way summer has started.

A lump of coal in my stocking couldn’t spoil this Christmas gift.

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Almost here.

Almost here.

Do you remember Christmas Eve? Maybe you went to mass, there might have been  a party, possibly a big dinner with cousins you saw but once a year (and never liked anyway). But after all the ceremony, once dishes were dried and put up, when the lights were doused and you were tucked into bed with sugar plums dancing in your head, anticipation eventually seeped into your subconcious as the one, the only feeling in your young and impressionable mind. Soon, seep led to trickle, then to roar as the endless night dragged on.

You know, that can’t-get-to-sleep, did I leave Santa enough cookies and milk? will it be under the tree?  potential for unbridled joy coupled with a tinge of looming disappointment.

I’m there. Smack dab in the center, at the nexus of fun and wariness. Tomorrow we head north and east, Manny, Buddy and me.

Maybe because last night I was subjected to old home movies of my first Christmases, that’s the metaphor that best describes the night before embarking on the Awesome Upland Road Trip.

I’d promised Buddy and Manny this would be the fall we both got enough hunting to satisfy us. Let’s hope I’m not turned into a liar.

I’m wrapping a family-celebration trip as this is written, and while air travel typically is a drudge (that’s on a good day), this series of plane trips has been flavored by optimism on my part, smiles by airline staff, good weather, on-time arrivals, friendly seatmates and that identical sense of anticipation that sets in about midnight on December 24th.

Do you ever get that feeling? Maybe as opening weekend approaches? Or as you set out to pick up a new pup? Maybe as your annual trip to (fill in the blank: Wisconsin/ruffs; Texas/bobs; South Dakota/ringnecks) comes nigh?

Rub your hands – sleep in your clothes – check the alarm clock every hour – get up early (earlier) than planned – the sweet taste of impending fun and new country. It’s Christmas in September …  see you on the road!

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