It’s the time of year to which I most look forward. It’s not just the pumpkin bread (and muffins, pudding, soup, seeds, and all other versions of foods that we’ve created from our abundant pumpkin patch in the back yard). It’s mainly the hunting, which has become my singular passion over the past few years.
I’ve tried to articulate the allure of hunting in the past, and I don’t think I’ve quite succeeded. Now I’m going to try that same thing at book-length, which seems a daunting yet inviting task.
But I’ve figured this out: when I venture afield in search of game, I’m really in search of equilibrium.
In an external sense, I’m looking for equilibrium with my environment. I want to be responsible for at least some of the food I eat every year, hence the pumpkin patch, all the other vegetables, caringly tended for. And the ducks, grouse, geese, and pheasants in the bag, in the freezer, and on the table.
But even more importantly, in an internal sense, I’m hoping for equilibrium with myself. So often I’m thrown off kilter by disappointments and assaults, and I struggle to maintain my bearings. Yet as soon as I get in my car and start the long drive west, toward the South Dakota border, all of that falls away. I am immediately set right.
I am trying to figure out what it is that happens during those times, and I haven’t quite gotten to it yet. But I know it’s something unlike any other aspect of my life. It’s the uniqueness of hunting (and fishing, hiking, and canoeing) in my experience that has put me on this quest of understanding.
Each of us, I think, needs to foster those activities that establish equilibrium in our lives. I have found mine, for which I am supremely grateful. Now, I’m trying to understand it.