Hunting for Love

deer-hunting-buck-jumpSeth took me out to the ranch for opening weekend of deer hunting this year. Although I’ve been to the range several times with my dad and brothers, I’d never been hunting before, and I’ll admit it was different than I expected.

For one, I was surprised at how peaceful it is in the deer stand. Seth and I woke up before dawn, bundled up in sweatshirts and jackets and drove quietly to the ranch, where we silently hiked to the deer stand on foot by the light of a single flashlight.

We sat mostly in silence from 5am to 7pm, spending fourteen straight hours together, quietly enjoying one another’s company and the scenic landscape around us. I think it’s the most reflective and introspective I’ve seen my outgoing, extroverted boyfriend. I’ve decided I’m a fan of the deer stand.

Our first day to hunt that weekend, we had some 6 points in our sights but decided to let them live and grow up for next season. When we still hadn’t gotten anything by sunset, Seth decided to shoot a wild hog that was tearing up the grass. He calmly lifted the rifle, aimed, and pulled the trigger. It went straight down.

Meanwhile, Seth hopped out of the stand, jogged to his truck, pulled the truck around, grabbed the still-warm hog by its feet and tossed it up into the back of his pickup. He quartered it, put it through his granddad’s old meat grinder, and threw it on ice. Then he got his ax and went to chop some firewood.

He’s the manliest man I know.

Peaceful as it was, I was proud of myself for sitting in the rickety, old deer stand for so many hours and not complaining about the lack of amenities (the bathroom was the bushes nearby) or the mosquitoes (that seemed to swarm me but left Seth alone). The chairs in the deer stand were stained and dirty, and every crevice along the wooden ceiling was filled with either a spider’s web or wasps’ nest. To a man, the deer stand is a little piece of heaven on earth, but I had to overcome fears to sit calmly amid the enclosed space. I would have preferred to be out in the open rather than trapped in the shack with the insects. I was outside of my comfort zone but wanted to cater to Seth, so I put on a brave face for him.

However, on the second morning, I decided if I was going to sit in that place for so long, I may as well be comfortable, so I tentatively voiced my concerns to Seth, meekly apologizing for being so soft and citified. He responded sweetly, hugging me gently and asking me to stay outside while he took care of things. Then he went to work lovingly tidying up our little “home”.  He moved with efficiency, reaching into the corners of the ceiling with his bare hands to dethrone the spiders and wasps that had taken residence there. He scooted beetles out of the shack with his foot, and he gingerly dusted off my chair to make me more comfortable. When he finished, he came back outside, took me by the shoulders, looked me full in the face and said tenderly, “Thank you for telling me. I’m a man. I don’t even notice these things. I want you to be comfortable, and I’m happy  to take care of you when you let me know what bothers you.”

That night, I drove alone to the only grocery shop in town to buy ingredients and prepare a nice dinner for Seth while he finished cleaning our first deer of the weekend. The next morning, Seth got up extra early – 4am – to make a pot of coffee for me, even though he doesn’t drink it himself and in doesn’t even like the smell of coffee. We both spent the whole weekend serving one another; identifying each other’s needs and seeking to meet them.  When I told my dad about the weekend later, he commented, “It sounds like the boyfriend of the year is dating the girlfriend of the year.”

It’s true that Seth and I have seemed to find our stride. 2016 has been a good year for us, and I think we’re both closing out the year both feeling very cherished. I have high hopes for 2017, but during this Christmas season, I’m reminded to set my sights on the one True Hope; the only one who will never fail us; the One who came to save, redeem and restore. We are so blessed. Merry Christmas, y’all.

Authentically Aurora

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Team Bryan

My daddy got a .30-06 rifle for Christmas, so this afternoon we went out to the range to zero the scope. It was a beautiful day for shooting: sunny and crisp. Daddy jokingly calls me “Annie” because (let’s be honest) I’m a crack shot. Here’s my first-ever cluster with the new rifle:Target .30-06

Dad and I had driven separately, so as the afternoon drew to a close, we hugged goodbye, and I walked across the gravel parking lot to my car. On the way, I spotted a 17- or 18-year old boy with a sweatshirt that said in big, blue letters, “TEAM BRYAN”.

No way! I have to get a photo with that kid to show to my girlfriends!

team jacob shirtFor the past couple of months, as I’ve been courted by Bryan and semi-wooed by Flynn, most of my girlfriends have chosen to either be Team Bryan or Team Flynn. With most of them now decidedly Team Bryan, I thought they would get a kick out of seeing a photo of me standing with a kid in a “Team Bryan” sweatshirt.

So – putting on my outgoing, extroverted self – I walked straight up to the kid and asked how he’d shot that day. His dad turned around at that moment, put his arm around the kid and said, “He did great!” They smiled at each other. “Well, this is a bit random,” I started to say as the mom walked up, “But I was wondering if I could take a picture with you. I love your shirt.”

The kid said, “Sure!” enthusiastically as his mom asked, “What is this for exactly?”

Uhh… awkward. “Well,” I tried to explain, “You know how for ‘Twilight’ all the teen girls are Team Edward or Team Jacob? There are two guys kind of pursuing me, and one of them is named Bryan. I thought my girlfriends would like to see your son’s sweatshirt because some of my friends are ‘Team Bryan’, as it were.”

The kid looked hopefully at his mom. This pretty girl wanted to take a picture with him. But his mom contorted her face and spat at me, “He has that shirt because he’s a cancer survivor.”

…………….

…………………………..

………………………………….…….”Oh, so your name’s Bryan, then?” I asked awkwardly. What the heck am I supposed to say in response to that?!

“Yeah,” answered the kid, the sparkle gone from his eyes. Why’d his mom have to go and bring his cancer into a perfectly fun and light-hearted conversation?

“Well, I’m glad everything’s okay.” I handed my camera phone to the dad, who was standing silently. “Will you take our picture?”

The dad quickly snapped a few shots while the mom fumed at the audacity of this young punk girl who dared to ask her son to take a picture in his cancer shirt, of all things! Oh, the atrocity!

I hugged the kid and grinned at him as I skedaddled and called bye to his folks, “Have a great day!” Eeek.

That. Was. So. Awkward. And it didn’t even have to be!

It took enough courage to ask a random stranger for a fun photo without a defensive, overprotective mom insisting on having a chip on her shoulder in regards to her son’s cancer. I’m sure he didn’t appreciate her ruining the moment and making a huge scene.

It could have been a playful and fun-loving interaction for this kid who most assuredly hasn’t had enough light-hearted moments in his young life. Instead, this worry-wart mom stole her son’s joy and made this girl right here feel very, very awkward.

So… yay, Team Bryan…?

Yay?

Authentically Aurora