by Chris Larsen
The night I held my son for the first time doesn't seem that long ago. As I looked into his eyes in the delivery room, I saw unlimited potential. But he was totally dependent on his parents for everything. Fast forward to today. I'm dropping him off at preschool for the first time. That potential is materializing itself everyday. It's a little sad for dad, but exciting at the same time. He is entering a new chapter in his life. A stage in which he is slowly becoming independent of mom and dad.
As school buses hit the roads across this great country, I'm reminded that new chapters are beginning all around us. Our world keeps spinning, kids keep growing, and the seasons... they are changing. Yellow school buses arrive before yellow and orange leaves. But their presence is the first indicator in my home state of Wisconsin that hunting seasons are here. Dove and early goose seasons have already arrived. My hunt crazy neighbor is getting that wild look in his eye.
The realization that another summer has come and gone is a reality check. There are still a few home projects that remain uncompleted. That part of the honey-do list has been mentally erased from my mind as my man cave fills with the aroma of Hoppe's No. 9. I'm reconnected with the tools of the trade. My guns received a little practice over the summer but now I prep them for highly anticipated trips afield.
Falling temperatures and new smells are not lost on Willie either. My yellow lab has an extra spring in his step and fire in his eyes these days. The intensity of our evening sessions is increasing. Perhaps his biggest clue is the annual resurrection of my camo. The big blue storage tote that protects my camouflage and blaze orange made it's way out from under our stairwell earlier this week. When the lid is pulled off a whoosh of air releases the scent of seasons past, now permanently at home in the fabric of my most treasured apparel. Willie is well aware of what is about to transpire after the tote appears.
As I step out the front door, I am reminded of that list again. The storm door needs to be installed. That thought escapes my mind as the garage door opens. The decoy bags and tree stands look back at me from where they were stowed last winter. The bags have a few small tears and one of the stands needs a new strap. Those were late winter projects never completed and now part of my preseason preparation. They're simple fixes that leap ahead of the storm door on my list of priorities.
As the calendar pages turn, we're reminded that sons and daughters don't stay young forever, hunting seasons are never far away, and project lists are always expanding. Don't be afraid to leave a few of those projects unfinished so you can enjoy cherished moments. I keep looking, but I have still never seen a tombstone with a storm door on it.