Tag Archive | Connecticut

Time in the Woods

I look forward to going hunting every year. Last year, after two years of getting nothing, I got a small button buck in the Connecticut woods. It gave me a great feeling of accomplishment and I returned to the woods this year with a much-bolstered sense of confidence.

But a deer was not in the cards this year. This was the first season I’ve gone hunting when I didn’t even SEE a single deer in the two whole days I was in the woods. Even in the previous hunts when I came home empty-handed, I had at least seen deer in the woods.

I saw deer while I was driving to Connecticut and back. There is no shortage of deer in the world. The woods of the suburbs and country are still sick with the beautiful beasts. And I have a good spot as well. My favorite hunting spot is a bluff that overlooks a healthy slice of woods. I’m elevated and out sight. It has given me many chances to get deer.

My friend Steve, a very experienced hunter who has taught me a lot about hunting, said the deer were moving differently this year. It was windy on one day we were out and deer don’t like to move around when it’s windy—the wind carries their scent to potential predators. Steve said that some years that’s just what happens. You can sit for hours and days not see nothing. That’s hunting.

Hunting is a noble venture, and it requires a lot of patience and discipline. And that’s actually one of the best things about it. Hunting means you have to be silent and quietly observe nature for many hours at a time.

The first day I went out this year things were cold and windy. Leaves falling from the trees and swaying branches will sometimes catch your eye. Your mind can play tricks on you and you’ll see deer in every movement of the trees or leaves. You’ll hear a sound in the distance and think it may be the sound of some game approaching. It will turn out to be nothing but the wind.

Every clump of brush in the distance could be a missed chance at a shot. I found myself scoping in on things just to maintain my aiming acuity and in case these shaded areas of the woods turned out to be a delicious venison.

The second day I went out was about a week later and it was the last day of the hunting season. Snow had fallen and the woods were blanketed with a layer of white. There were fresh deer tracks not far from my regular spot. I got there plenty early and stayed quiet. I still saw nothing. It was beautiful to see the woods covered in snow, even seeing different animal tracks in the snow made the trip worthwhile.

Steve tells me that hunting is all about time in the woods. The more time you spend in the woods, the better hunter you become.

I’ll add that more time in the woods makes you a better person as well. Everyone needs some quiet time to contemplate nature. Everyone needs hours at a time in the outdoors where you don’t speak at all. You are quiet and watching and waiting. The peaceful quiet is its own reward, and may be your only reward that day. Sometimes that’s enough.

Happy Summertime, New York

r-NEW-YORK-HEAT-WAVE-large570New York in the summer is for oppressive heat and simmering anger, for being tempted with the sights of more female flesh while blanketed with heat and the sweaty intrusions of more people.

City life is a trial of patience and suffering in the summer. Concrete and blacktop absorb and reflect the heat, exhaust fumes are trapped by tall buildings, and everything in the city is hotter than everywhere else. Cramped onto subways and buses, we bristle at the sweaty touch of others, suffering further in one another’s vulgar heat.

Summer tests everyone’s patience. The heat and humidity magnify the unending slights and annoyances that are the fuel of city angst. The unavoidable heat and its sweaty unpleasantness works to erode our patience and our souls boil over with anger and white-hot rage almost daily.

The sad realization of summer hit me just yesterday while I stood waiting for the 7 train in Flushing. The 7 train is populated mostly by Asians with sharp elbows who scramble for seats that they’ll only sit in for about 25 minutes at most and are less comfortable than standing. I prefer to stand so I can read the paper and not fight for a seat. But like other subway lines, the 7 train is a strange beast that operates on its own whims and curses its riders with frequent malfunctions. I was jolted to the realization of summer while standing and waiting for the subway at Main Street, which is underground – most of the 7 line is above ground. “Signal problems” caused a delay in subway service, and there was little to do but stand motionless and suffer as the platform became more crowded and sweat soaked through your clothes.

Summer in the city has its fun moments. It’s sometimes nice to stay in the city while everyone else is away, especially Labor Day weekend to end the summer season. New York is forever populated with young women and the degeneration of our society has dictated that popular fashion becomes more and more revealing with each summer season.

But at some point, you must leave New York City for at least 48 consecutive hours every summer in order to preserve some shred of sanity. Being baked in a concrete, glass and body odor oven for three and a half months will make even the strongest person go mad.

I’m going to Connecticut to light off explosives with a few good friends and then to California where I will try to trace the steps of Henry Miller and light bonfires in tribute to John Steinbeck and the ghosts of Portuguese whalers. But I shall return soon to our sweat-soaked city to grab it by the throat once again.

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