It’s Friday evening as I write this and the last 36 hours has been a blur. It’s with a small but of reflection that I realize that the blur has lasted more than 36 days.
The Fall is my favourite time of year – it’s also the busiest. There are so many competing interests at play:
- The harvest and the bounty it offers to preserve
- The stunning amount of great food events, festivals and tastings
- Preparing for the hunt
- The Brickworks Picnic (where we served more than 650 portions of food we prepared in four hours)
- Two long weekends which tend to be mini-vacations for us (generally to the hunt camp to prepare for the harvest)
- It’s also the busiest time at work as I host an International Summit of Leaders from across our business
- I’m starting a new position at my company – transitioning roles is a bit like working both jobs at the same time until one gently fades away.
- I’ve decided to keep the 1,000+ consecutive days of posting going so there’s also a matter of pre-writing 10 days of posts to keep the site going while I head into the forest.
It’s been busy. It generally always is before the hunt – the 6 day moose hunting season generally marks the end of the busiest time of year for me these days. It’s like my drive home – our house is less than 2 minutes from the highway that takes me home; I go from 100 kilometers (around 60 miles) an hour to parked in 120 seconds or less and it takes a few more minutes for my brain to slow down and get in synch with my body.
Our work summit, this year, included 2 days away from the office. We’re on a break of the final evening – there’s a casual get-together after an intense 4-days filled with meetings. I’ll be here through morning when I’ll wrap up some final work items, finish my final posts and run errands through town before leaving mid-morning for camp. I’ll be there in about an hour from here (it’s close but the rough logging road I’ll cross in my pickup demands respect and patience).
It’s ironic that the chosen location was Huntsville, Ontario (where I’m writing this journal) – I’m 3.5 hours from home and less than 20 kilometers from our cabin. I’m between two worlds – geographically far from home and socially in a different universe than that cabin that’s so near (to get an idea of how remote, visit this post from 2009). We’re staying at a golf course which is all but closed for the season – I can see the fall colors all around me and keep thinking of the cabin where my Father, a few friends and my dog await.
My Family spends a lot of time in the cabin this time of year. Mom and Dad will spend 30+ days out of 45 just getting ready for the hunt. They’ll spend time working on small projects as well as hiking and using the 4-wheeler (ATV) to look for signs and evidence of animals. Mom left camp with Dad on Monday (her final visit of the year) and he came back yesterday (Thursday) for another 11 days. He’ll be back in November for 16 or 17 for deer season.
I generally always get to camp later Friday night. I love arriving Friday night – it’s generally just the retired guys who are in and it feels like the calm before the storm. It’s a celebratory mood and the guys either stay up or get up to greet me, even if I arrive after midnight. There will be no such arrival this year as our conference goes through the evening – something I am slightly sad about but I’m also excited to have a casual night with my peers. Besides, I know I’ll be in camp early in the morning so my ‘sacrifice’ compared to years past is probably a 1:00AM beer.
Yesterday morning saw me up and out of the house before 6:00AM. I took Schaeffer (who was bounding with excitement) up to the suburbs and dropped him off with my Father. I didn’t think taking our pup to our conference for 2 days would go over so well so he took the express route to camp with my Dad (who is his absolute favorite person in the world).
From there I headed up rural roads and wound my way up to Huntsville. After a mini-SUV passed me on the highway I received a phone call from the vehicle. It was a group of colleagues on their way to the same off-site session I was headed to and they were looking for breakfast recommendations in town. It was fun to take them to a diner I’ve visited since childhood.
The restaurant was packed and there were plenty of tables where groups of men huddled over caffeine and mounds of breakfast staples. It was clear to me that many were there for the hunt. I was identifiable as the same (my hunter-orange jacket is the only coat I’ve brought) and I stood out – the only hunter at a table of men who were the only group of men who were non-hunters in the restaurant. Much like where I am staying, my position at the table was one of limbo – physically between two places.
My colleagues missed a few subtle interactions between myself and a few others. There were a few knowing nods, smiles and glances as each of us prepares for something that most wait the entire year for. I have no idea who these people are and we’d likely miss connecting any other time of the year but this was 3 days before the hunt and we share a bond of familiar strangers. It’s an odd exchange to try to explain – and just as odd to experience.
We had a team-building experience today that included orienteering with GPS’s, target practice with a ‘kids’ bow-and-arrow and other outdoor activities. I had an edge over many of my colleagues until it came to lighting a fire that would bring water to a boil. Our wood was met and I made a few rookie mistakes that I should have never made but did. We ended up in second-last (in a game where pride was the biggest prize) and I was reminded of the Golden Rules of all things outdoors: as soon as you think you have it mastered and get cocky, you will be humbled.
Time to run out for the evening; an early alarm will call from sleep – I’m excited to get into camp and see my guys…
To see all of the posts in this series, click here (a new post will be published every day through Sunday, November 6, 2011).