Lessons from the Swamp

I spend a lot of time in the swamp during the waterfowl season and my trip there this weekend allowed for some moments of reflection. To be honest, I learn something new about the world and myself every time I go out there.

On this particular trip I learned that, in a pinch, a garbage bag with a draw string works very well to line a leaky wader. Even better, a garbage bag with built in smellies like mountain flowers will freshen up musty leaky waders while keeping your feet dry at the same time!

My leaky waders aside, to be mentioned again later, I realized some pretty important things about life while on my pilgrimage to the swamp.

The ducks were flying, as usual, in the same frenzy that is typical of the morning flight. It is as if each one of them was late for an important meeting and were rushing off to their various destinations. It is at this time that my adrenaline kicks in and the blood starts pumping.

The excitement is palpable, how do I explain? For the non hunters out there it is something akin to driving a Maserati on the Autobahn, shopping at Neiman Marcus with a limitless credit card, finding out that Elvis is alive and lives next door. Anyway, I digress, the excitement is what keeps me coming back day after day rain or shine, through snow and ice. Why? Because it makes me feel alive. Simple as that.

The excitement is a double-edged sword, however, and can cause one to make grave mistakes afield. Much like life, if you hurry too much you are not going to get down on your barrel to focus on the target and follow through. This has been my problem on more than one occasion. You can’t just fire and will and hope for the best. You must take careful aim and never take your eye off the goal.

Another lesson involves, yes, my leaky waders. I have had them for 14 years now. They have seen me through so many memorable adventures and trying to make me part with them is like trying to make Linus give up his blue blanket. However, my waders have started to fail me. Last fall a red squirrel got into the garage and decided to remodel them into a corn crib for all the loot he hauled from the bird feeder. I opened a feed mill on what I dumped out of the right boot and proceeded to carefully repair the damage. I was good to go for the rest of the season.

This year is a different story. My patches are wearing patches and those patches are wearing patches. It is like a wader patch family tree! Yet I keep fixing something that continues to fail despite my diligent efforts. Hmmm! Life lesson, you can only fix something so many times before it is time to just walk away and try something new. I can argue with myself all day about how comfortable my old waders are, how many memories are associated with them, how they used to be so dependable, how long it will take to break in new ones, etc….. As you can tell I have been arguing with myself for a while on this! In any event, in life and in waders, sometimes you just have to endure the pain of trying something new rather than just settle for the same old unreliable.

So as I close out my post, I hope you all learned something besides the fact that I am long-winded, that I rent out my waders to woodland creatures in the off-season, and that the swamp gas may be getting to me! There are lessons to be learned every day even from a pair of leaky waders!

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