It seems the older we get, the faster time seems to pass by – especially when it comes to time spent with our children.
It was the last evening of Indiana’s youth deer hunting weekend as we made our way around the edge of the field. The dried leaves of the soybeans bounced in the breeze of a perfect early autumn afternoon with blue bird skies and a hint of high pressure in the wind.
I led the way packing our gear for the evening’s watch. Every now and then, I’d glance over my shoulder to make sure she was still there, her footsteps so light, they barely made a noise.
I took in the sights as we hiked to our spot. The golden rod alive with the buzzing of hundreds of bees. The poplars and water maples that lined the edge of the field were doing their best to put on their fall colors of yellow and red. As we stepped into the woods, I paused for a moment and breathed in – breathed in the smell of the damp dirt and the fallen leaves. The smell of the autumn woods and deer season.
But the pause was more than to soak in the woods, it was an unconscious attempt to stop time – to stop this very moment and freeze it in my mind. The sun pouring through the tree tops. The leaves rattling in the breeze. The feel of the wind on my face. The sight of my 17-year old daughter walking in my shadow…
We quickly made our way to our hiding spot for the evening’s hunt. An old, cobbled together log cabin. It was thrown together years ago by me with the help of my two kids, both barely young enough to lift a hammer – let alone swing one.
As we took up our positions inside the now falling down shack, my thoughts floated back in time and I can still see my seven-year old daughter trying her best to drive a nail – bending more than I can count – and a smile crept across my face as I became entranced by the smell of the old sassafras logs used for the walls.
Over the next couple of hours, our conversation was sparse. We both had high hopes for a buck to come close enough for a shot and I tried to pray and will a deer to cross in front of her sights.
We talked about the squirrels and laughed under our breath at their noisy fights. We talked about blue jays and pileated woodpeckers as they squawked and carried on. We watched a hen turkey and her chicken sized poults make their way past. We talked about volleyball and school and a little about cars; but most of all, we just sat and watched as the woods came alive.
I caught myself wondering how my seven-year old girl had turned into a beautiful young lady, seemingly overnight…
“Where has the time gone”, I thought to myself.
We watched as the shadows grew longer and the gray of dusk made its way to our spot. It was time to go and I knew it. But, I didn’t want to leave. I wasn’t ready for tonight to be over. Time has an unfairness about it.
We retraced our steps and I knew that this was her last hunt as a “youth” and it brought a lump to my throat. A doe made her way across the field, but neither of us even gave a thought to her shooting it. This hunt had nothing to do with antlers or venison.
No, this hunt was about time.
Time spent between a father and his daughter and trying to hold onto as much of it as possible.
As if on cue, a flock of wood ducks whistled over the bean field, heading south and they reminded me that there is a season for everything and that change is inevitable and time stops for no one…