MY YOUNGER BROTHER, BRANDON, AND 5-YEAR-OLD NEPHEW RAIN – BOTH DECKED OUT IN CAMOUFLAGE – FISH IN THE POND BEHIND THEIR MISSISSIPPI HOME. (NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL SOUTHERN ENTERTAINMENT.)
AND YES, EVEN I GOT INTO THE FISHING ACTION – RAIN’S SPIDER MAN ROD WAS A CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM ME, AND I WAS JUST AS EXCITED TO TRY IT OUT. LOOKING THROUGH PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND LATER, A FRIEND POINTED OUT THAT I STUCK OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB IN MY CITY CLOTHES NEXT TO ALL THE HUNTING GEAR.
I’M SERIOUSLY NOT JOKING ABOUT THE ATTACK OF THE CAMOUFLAGE, IT TRULY WAS EVERYWHERE. (AS SHOWN HERE BY BRANDON, RAIN AND BRENT.) I MUST SAY THOUGH, I WAS A BIT IMPRESSED BY ALL THE HUNTING GARB BRENT HAD ACQUIRED. WHO KNEW THERE WERE SO MANY PATTERNS OF TREE.
“Look, I have something to show you,” my younger brother Brent says to me.
We are standing outside my Mom’s home in Eupora, Miss., last Saturday – or “Thanksgiving” for us.
Thinking he’s going to show me a picture of something he’s experienced while away in the Air Force, I’m shocked when the picture on his phone is a deer.
A dead deer.
“That’s the exit wound,” he says, laughing at the horror on my face.
It was at that moment I could see exactly how much living in a city had affected me. How much I had changed.
I grew up a country girl. Not because I wanted to, mind you – I had no choice. I was way outnumbered in a house full of Mississippi boys.
Don’t get me wrong, some of my best memories – and a few of the greatest parts about me – are because I grew up a bit rough and tumble. But those moments include my first driving experience at five years old, behind the wheel of a truck as we bailed hay. (What was my Dad thinking? For the record though, I did a wonderful job pushing the brake and letting it out.) Feeding the cows and having to note if they had been bred. Riding four-wheelers, catching catfish with raisins, mud, dirt, scrapes.
But the one thing I never enjoyed was hunting – even though I was forced to spend every weekend at our hunting camp during deer season. My Dad and brothers really took to it, so until I was old enough to say no, off we would go. The boys would all head to the woods, my Mom and all the other wives and daughters hanging back at the camp, making meals, cleaning and finally, out of horrible boredom, trying to find something to watch on TV. (About as close as I’ll ever be to Amish, I’m sure … well minus the TV.)
I went out in the woods with my Dad once. I shot at a deer. There was blood. That’s all that I have to say about that. It’s one of those memories I’ve tried to suppress.
Thankfully for me – their vegetarian, animal-loving sister – my brothers eventually fell out of love with the hobby, as did my Dad.
Until this year.
Arriving to my Mom’s house, I was met with a barrage of camouflage. For three days, it was everywhere I looked. My brothers, my step-brothers, my nephews and my step-father were all sporting some type of tree-printed fabric. The hours consisted of Thanksgiving dinner, hunting, leftovers, hunting, football, hunting … and on and on. Someone was either coming in or going out to the woods, dousing themselves with doe urine to ward off any smells that may have picked up in their few minutes out of the tree stand. (Yep, horribly gross.)
I found myself many times saying that I could survive the streets of Uptown – three people were shot in my alley a few months ago – but I knew I would take a bullet driving through the Mississippi woods. Obviously, I escaped unscathed.
Physically anyway. Emotionally, it’s is a different story.
Living in a fast-paced environment has only increased my impatience with a slower way of life. Driving to my brother Brandon’s each day from my Mom’s was a challenge. I can sit on the train for the same distance every day without even batting an eyelash, but put me on a bumpy gravel road to the middle of nowhere, and I’m as antsy as they come.
As far as the hunting goes, I’ll get over the fact that every male I’m related to shot – or shot at – a defenseless animal this year.
I could no longer judge once Brent explained it to me after I asked him why he was into it again.
“It’s made me feel closer to Dad,” he says. “It’s all I have.”
And I know, that’s something I can’t argue with.
IF MOM CAN LAUGH OFF ALL THE HUNTING, THEN SO CAN I. “TAKE A PICTURE OF BRANDON IN HIS CAMOUFLAGE,” SHE TOLD ME AFTER THANKSGIVING LUNCH. NOT THAT I NEEDED TO … THE MENTAL PICTURE WILL LAST FOREVER.
THE BEAUTY SURROUNDING BRANDON’S HOME MORE THAN MADE UP FOR THE LONG DRIVE OUT THERE EVERY DAY. (NOT TO MENTION BEING AROUND HIM AND HIS FAMILY WHO I LOVE MORE THAN LIFE.)