It’s my birthday. Now, I’m not asking for any gifts from my readers. However, if you send some to the editor of this fine newspaper to be forwarded to me, I won’t decline accepting them.
But that isn’t why I mention my birthday.
This is an eventful birthday. Number 50. Yes, 50 times around the sun. 50 falls. 50 winters. 50 springs. 50 summers. I also realize I have seen more days pass by than I will see in the future. All of our days are numbered, and I have fewer left to count than have been counted.
There have been some great experiences. I’ve hunted and taken bison and alligator with only a bow. I have hunted mountain lion from horseback. I’ve fished for snakeheads along the Potomac and brought in stingrays and sharks from a kayak. I caught my largest largemouth bass when I was only 7, and had to bring it in by hand after the fish stripped the gears in my Zebco 202 reel.
I have hunted dove with my dad and granddad. I have hunted dove with my dad and my son.
I watched one son take a large tundra swan with one shot from a long distance when the bird was as long as he was tall.
I watched another son bring in his first bream on a father/son planned fishing trip to where I caught my first fish. Then I watched him catch another. And another. And another.
I witnessed my daughter set a bowfishing state record.
I set several bowfishing and bowhunting state records myself.
I’ve taken two deer with a bow in the same day and I have taken two wild hogs with the same arrow on a single shot.
While all of these memories are spectacular to remember, I also know there is so much more left to do. This world is an amazing place. I cherish each time I get to hear the bugle of a bull elk as the weather cools and the mating season begins.
I look forward to catching glimpse of battling whitetail as they try to establish dominance over the other to win favor with the females.
I enjoy watching the squirrels streak up and down the trees, fly from limb to limb and scurry along the fallen leaves even if it does sound like a herd of wildebeest charging through the forest floor.
If I pass a tom during the spring that is in full strut, I always stop to watch, if only for a moment, so that it will burn a memory into my brain matter. It never gets old, even if I am.
I look forward to seeing more national parks and the wonders God has given them. I look forward to returning to others to catch the sunrise over the Everglades in a deep orange glow, or seeing fireflies strobe their lights along the surface of the Congaree grounds. The visions of colors that adorn the Great Smokies during autumn, the layered blues and purples of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the cloud inversions blanketing the land below the Shenandoah ridge all seem to be what Heaven should resemble.
A half-century has passed for me. You may be past that point, or you may not be there yet. Either way, it is good to have that bucket list of things to do and see. And as you pull one item out and mark it off, always have another to add to the list. While our days are finite, our experiences and dreams can be infinite.