Sunday, November 25, 2012

Opening Day

    I am driving home, lost.  Behind me is a trailer loaded with an ATV, camoed and ready to hunt.  The trees blur by and the snow flurries glisten in the headlights.  A disorienting fog sometimes obscures the road until I drive through it and realize that it is actually smoke from the wood stoves exhaling from the hunting cabins alongside the road.  Trucks pass me.  All of them laden with the same cargo as me but  traveling in the opposite direction.  That is when I realize I am driving to our home in the city, but I am lost.
     I know how to get to our house.  I know the directions.  Yet, I feel lost, that I truly am traveling in the wrong direction.  Before I left the woods, I began to feel it, as I heard the echoing booms of rifles being sighted in.  The feeling grew as our dirt road turned into a main artery of travel for strange license plates and ATV's.  The disoriented feeling became almost oppressive as I drove through the wood stove smoke, it's acrid smell stinging my psyche as well as my nostrils.  The air in the car became heavy as we passed the trucks traveling in the opposite direction, heavy with coolers and ATV's and anticipation of the coming morning.  I felt as if I were trying to move underwater, my lungs tightening, as the small cabins lit by lanterns and generators blurred by, their driveways overflowing with trucks and hunters and excitement.
     I am lost on this road, driving away from opening day to go to work, to a job that rarely shows any acknowledgement of achievement, of value, of worth.  Most of my coworkers are not interested in the work, only how to get out of it.  The bosses look to lean on the employees that share a dedicated work ethic, but it is a thankless dedication, rewarded with more work and less understanding for absence.  It does not allow for family or for the soul of an employee, just the grind.  And so I am lost.
     My children in the backseat shoot questions at me as they hunt for their own answers.  They are curious to know why they see children in some of the cabins we pass by.  They want to know the reason behind the kids in the parking lot of the grocery store, decked out in camo, smiling ear to ear, nearly vibrating with excitement.  As we drive and discuss the sights outside our windows, it dawns on me, they understand what is happening in the woods.  They do not understand why they can not be a part of it.  They can not comprehend why their school does not recognize the importance of opening day.  My kids want to know why their school does not understand the importance of tradition, of family, of camaraderie, of lessons of life and death and the life cycle.  They wonder why participating in the food chain is frowned upon by the teachers.  I try to explain that it is partly the fault of the same people that wish to abolish community service from the school system.  Partial blame lies with the people that do not believe that character and integrity and responsibility should be taught in the classroom.  Political correctness always wins out.  The backseat falls silent.  They do not, can not, fully understand.  To them, the whole thing is black and white.  And so I am lost, searching for the answers.
     In the end, I must shoulder the blame.  I am traveling in the wrong direction because I choose to appease my work stresses and willingly avoid using sick time for these important days, days I will not get back.  I am at fault for not allowing my children to have this day in a classroom of a different sort, for not rocking the boat, for not standing by my values.  It is my own fault that I am lost.  I know the way but still choose to drive in the opposite direction.  I truly am lost.

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