Outside time was good early on because it always gave us common ground, a connection right away. We were cold or hot or windblown together. Farther along, that’s become more important it seems.
What excites us varies with age and the more jaded our tastes the higher the threshold, unless something universally engaging is in play, and one of those somethings is just around the corner.
As much as the dog days of summer in the Deep South wear on us and modern air conditioning gathers our praise, at heart we are creatures of a sub-tropical climate.
South of the 35th parallel, our souls expect not only to see sunshine, but to feel it, to taste it like morning coffee and wallow in it like deep blankets before an open fire.
Outwardly we may sweat and sigh but, deep within, part of our core is at peace because, uncomfortable or not, we’re home. Like clean sheets on a backyard line, our spirits are cleared of nits and small hobgoblins and snap clean fresh and renewed.
When we greet a March morning in the dark and watch the stars wink out and the sky turn purple from black, when we can see the eastern horizon warm to orange like a stove eye under the coffee pot back at camp or, from deep in the woods where tall timber obscures all but the heavens straight above, simply see darkness recede and give way to dim then to the light of day, when we watch the blooms on the dogwood and budding leaves on oak and gum soak it in as red birds and crows and, if we’re lucky, even a turkey or two speak out in joy at its arrival, our human connection to nature is not so much made as just recognized. It’s been there all along, and a walk in the dark in a new season has brought us close again.
This year, I’m looking forward to introducing my little girl to the spring turkey woods, to a hunt or two and, hopefully, to the sights and sounds that expel the winter doldrums the way close lightning peels back the night.
The days start early and often finish late, but little girls don’t suffer the burdens of conscience that plague their elders so mid-day naps are easy for them to come by and, in places where the sun is warm and breezes are cool, life is still sweet indeed.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.