There is something purely magical about this time of year. Autumn is a time for harvest and gathering and for me it is a time of reflection and thankfulness. As the days grow shorter and the nights turn cooler, it takes me back to the days of Friday night lights and the smell of hamburgers cooking on the charcoal grill at Rebel Field. It takes me back to Mom at the pep rallies and her coordinating our homecoming floats. I can recall gametime and the snap of the chip strap buckling just after the Nathional Anthem as I take my place as the man in the middle. The nervous anticipation just before opening kickoff and the overwhelming sense of invincibility before the initial crack of the pads. The way there was only one voice in the crowd that proved to be a perpetual source of inspiration for the 48 minute trench war and the feeling of respect you receive from many of the weekly "enemies" that eventually become friends for life .
This time of year brings back the moans of cotton pickers harvesting a bumper crop and the smell of the cotton being dumped into the module builders before being hauled to the gin. From checking the cotton for Second Generation Bollworms to putting down and "attempting" to effectively utilize Polypipe reminds me of the hard work and perserverence it takes to be successful in life. This time of year reminds me of the dedication of my parents to shape me into the type of man who by faith can overcome any obstacle that life may place in front of me. It also reminds me that no matter where your feet may be planted, you are never far from your roots.
As the cool becomes cold, the annual migration commences and the brotherhood begins. There is no way for a person to be more connected to God than to hear the whistling of wings at daybreak and looking above to see the cupped wings and the dropped landing gear of a flock of mallard ducks. My memories take me back to my most favorite duck hunt. My dad, brother, and I departed on what turned out to be a three hour tour. We broke from the house around 3:00 a.m. to one of our past hot spots. Charting a john boat and three paddles, we set off into a pitch black lake bottom with a hundred pounds of gear and eight dollar Walmart head lamps. Using my unequaled Eagle Scout navigation skills, we paddled around in circles for the next several hours. Thanks to Dad, we finally found our way out to the location that was a mere hundred yards from shore. Embarrassment being understated, we came up bird free. However, I cannot recall a moment where I have enjoyed the company of my two favorite men any more than our disaster duck hunt.
Finally, the afternoons bring back opening day and the anticipation of the first deer of the season. From the trials of Shelton getting his first deer to Dad's bobcat buck, the thoughts are too numerous to recall. From Magna Vista to Shiloh, the best memories of my life are buried in a place that now no longer exists.
As I now look forward to making new memories with the most amazing young lady I have ever met, I cherish the positive experiences in my life that happened in these same very months. It almost seems fitting that my most memorable day is only weeks away. I am thankful for all that God has bestowed upon my life and the examples that I have been provided. Indeed, there is something truly special about this time of year.