Sunday, September 11, 2011

rite of passage


A few weeks ago, Nephew A asked, "do you miss the country?" I, without pause, hesitation, thought or consideration immediately replied, "every day."

I live in the city now, and have for 12 years; however, rural West TN will always be ... Home...

I drove home Friday afternoon to attend the annual dove hunt shindig.  If you are from the country, you are probably familiar with this annual event.  If not, just know that the event involves food, food, dove season (field) opens, and more food.

Nearing sunset, I drove along the two-lane roads, listening to a narration of Pat Conroy's "South of Broad," read by a gentleman with a deep south, Charleston accent.  Warm, late afternoon sunlight bathed the corn fields, ripe for harvest.  It was as if a huge protective, welcoming blanket surrounded me along the drive.  Some can't go home, or choose not to go home, but for the remainder of us, going home will always be a comforting event.  It is where our memories lie, where our dreams were formed, and where we choose to return to rest at the end of our earthly journey.

Food is huge during the annual dove hunt.  From the pre-hunt cookers producing poppers, and fried fish and b-b-q bologna, to the post hunt lunch of shoulders and ham and baked beans. And that brings me to the  'rite of passage.'

There will not be a recipe in this blog post, for you see, I did not receive this rite of passage.  I am not privy to the ingredient list, nor the technique, nor the cooking time nor temperature.  It is my brother who has mastered this art, and this year, it was his son to whom the instructions passed.

As I watched, Nephew A listened and followed directions for preparing the shoulders for the overnight rest in the cooker.  His Dad is master of the cooker, consistently preparing delicious post hunt shoulders.

Nephew A, this is where your memories are being made, and a place to which you will return for years to come.

I can attest to the fact that the shoulders, cooked overnight, cooled, and pulled were delicious!  I don't really need the recipe; all I need is an invitation to attend the feast.

Sunrise next morning...
I arrive at the field with the hunters long before first light.  Everyone is looking for 'just the right spot,' as if having a premonition of from which directions the doves will fly.  I, on the other hand, am looking for a location where my camera lens and I will not get pelted with shot, yet have a view of the field, the sunrise, and hopefully a few birds.

And then it happens........someone yells "BIRD!"  and the shots fire.  Dove season (in this field) has arrived, just after sunrise, over a fog laden field of drying corn and spent sunflowers, heads bowed in reverence to this time honored tradition.
The birds hit the ground with a thud, the young hunters are thrilled with their marksmanship, and after dressed, the dove will provide a tasty dinner.

CLICK HERE to see the pictures from the Dove Hunt 2011.

Nephew A and his Wife M are expecting their first child in February 2012.....a son....rite of passage....

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