Two Boots & Bunkum: A Father's Day Reflection
As Spooky approaches the summer, I wanted to take some time to reflect on a few of the men that shaped my perspective of the outdoor life and, ultimately, my life. The best memories I have with those men are generally around some activity, either work or play, in the outdoors. From cutting firewood, toiling in an endless garden, working cows, watching a bird dog work along an old fence row, learning to hunt squirrels and pond fish, to countless sessions throwing a ball or chasing a little white ball places it was not supposed to go, my perspective on life was shaped by were we spent time together. Those shared experiences taught me how to appreciate the stillness of a sunrise and the quiet joy in a sunset, to learn to be grateful for the time spent in the outdoors no matter the result of the work, the hunt, or success of a fishing trip, and the value of conservation and fulfilling our role in the Creation.
Raised on a small patch of land in East Texas, my father taught my brothers and I an appreciation for the land, through work, sports, hunting and fishing and, to have a deep gratefulness for the Creator who made all things possible. His father, “Gindad”, and my mother’s father, “Granddaddy”, both exemplified hard work and demonstrated the satisfaction of work that took place outside… man’s man, both of them. Both of my grandfathers worked with their hands and by the sweat of their brow to provide for their families. They got up every morning and headed “outside” to build on or shape the land. When compared to what is promoted in today’s culture, their quiet toughness and work ethic seems almost mythical.
While there have been other men that shaped my appreciation of the outdoor life, these men were the foundation. There are stories and memories that I hope to pass along to my family so they appreciate the men that set the foundation of, not just my view on the outdoors, but on life in general. I try to tell the stories to my sons so they can understand why certain things are and will be important as they grew up. To that end, I would like to share a little bit about my Gindad. There are stories and experiences with my Dad and Granddaddy that are equally important to me; however, this snapshot of him epitomizes his influence on my perspective.
My Gindad was a quiet man that his wife and friends (which seemed to be everyone) called “Bunkum”, which, in and of itself, made him legendary to me. He was a tremendous athlete in his youth and exuded the calm of a man that knew his place in the world. I often had the privilege of spending weekends with he and “Ginny” during the year and a week during the summer. When I was there, everyday it was rise with the sun, eat a homemade breakfast prepared by Ginny, watch him finish his “saucer’d” coffee, then sit on the back porch while he put on his boots. The screened-in back porch overlooked their 100-acre farm and was cool in the morning no matter the time of year.
Gindad putting on his boots was an event and was conducted in complete silence. One sock, contemplate who knows what forever, then the other sock and repeat the contemplation. Same with the boots, first one, pause for reflection, then the next. The entire process took several minutes but to a young boy seemed to take an eternity r. Although I am not sure what his purpose was, I now think it was to reflect in the still of morning, to plan his day, to look over the land, appreciate what the Creator had created and express his gratitude. Once the boots were on, we hit the door for a day of work on a farm where there was always something needing to be done. What I learned watching him go about his day would fill volumes, but I doubt I would be able to pinpoint the day where I learned this or that.
The memory that motivated me to share these words though revolves around hunting and how special those times are to me now. He was a quail hunter and had the best bird dogs in county, Brittany Spaniels. In those days, he was either related to or friends with everyone in the county and had “permission” to hunt quail along the fence rows. He and my father spent many years hunting those winged delicacies around the land surrounding his farm. I can remember watching them headout with their shotguns, trailing behind a dog or two, anxiously waiting the day I could go with them. I would listen eagerly when they got back to hear about where they had found a covey, how the dogs did and how they shot.
As I grew in stature and maturity, I looked forward to the day when I would be allowed to go with them. I was spending a weekend with Ginny and Gindad around Christmas and we had been moving hay with the tractor for the cows. We had been at it for an hour or so after lunch and he looked at me and said “Let’s go get the dogs” which translated to we were done for the day and I was going on a quail hunt with my Gindad! I cannot tell you today if we found one covey or ten, if I pulled the trigger or brought home enough for a “mess”. What I can tell you is that now I have an appreciation for a working dog, the thrill of anticipation when a dog points and another honors the point, the rush of adrenaline when birds come off the ground and the memory of a man that took me on a hunt. It is a heritage and legacy I hope to pass along to my sons. My Gindad is no longer with us having gone to his Saviour many years ago but I will always appreciate the times we spent together, living a life outside.
I hope this will remind you to reach out to those men and women in your life that shaped your view of a life outside and thank them.