TOM BRYANT: Priorities Come Into Focus In Duck Blind
I've seen hundreds of sunrises from duck blinds all over the country; and like snowflakes, no two of them have been alike.
For me, their beauty has always made a reassuring statement that the world makes sense; even though after the last several months of politics and negative news about the economy, I wonder if we are indeed on our last go 'round.
I was down east, as duck hunters call it, hunting our club's impoundments overlooking the Pamlico Sound. My hunting partners, for one reason or another, had failed to make the opening weekend, with the exception of Bob Rudolph. Bob and I had a great time hunting in the morning, fishing in the afternoon, and closing the day out with an evening hunt.
Long ago, we learned that a successful outing is not equated with game in the bag. And it's a good thing, because ducks were scarce, and fishing turned out to be just a beautiful ride on the sound. Bob packed it in after the morning hunt and headed home to bride and hearth. Being a die-hard when it comes to duck hunting, as well as the only one in our group who's retired, I determined to make a couple more days of it. Therefore, I was watching another beautiful sunrise alone. A few teal buzzed the decoys about 15 minutes before legal shooting time and that was it.
A lot of contemplation goes on in a blind while I'm waiting for some action. This has been especially true over the last three or four years. Drought and warm weather has put a dent in the duck harvest, and this day was no different. I kicked back, watched a pair of Cooper's hawks sail over the corn looking for breakfast, poured some coffee from my thermos, and thought back to the recent election and our ailing economy.
Sometime in the mid '80s, there was a T-shirt slogan that read something like "The one who dies with the most toys wins." As I sat there that beautiful morning on the Pamlico, I thought that little tongue-in-cheek quip has become the mantra for our country even to the point that our government heralds it.
We are a nation of consumers; and right now, it seems as if we have been consuming ourselves for the last two decades.
We're working harder, scrambling more, driving faster just to fill that third-car garage. We've bought bigger and bigger mini-mansions just to keep up with the neighbors, and the neighbors are trying to keep up with us. It's a merry-go-round that goes at break-neck speed. Unfortunately, the carousel just hit a major snag and threw a whole crowd of consumers into the ditch. The banks and financial institutions that gave us the money to start with, knowing that one day there would be a reckoning, continued to pour good money after bad. And our government, to shore up a dam that was about to break, sent every taxpayer and even those who didn't pay taxes a check, urging us to do our patriotic duty and head to the mall and spend, spend, spend.
The two Cooper's hawks flew right over the blind, saw me, and headed for the heavens, a welcome diversion. I need to be thinking happier things, I thought. There's nothing I can do about this economy. The national election, which divided the country more than the Lincoln-Douglas debates, is over; and only time will tell if voters made the right decision. If we didn't, all the king's horses and all the king's shiny knights will never put us together again.
Hyde County, where our impoundments are located, is one of the state's poorest. Without Ocracoke's tax base, the county probably wouldn't exist. Its citizens are cordial, happy people.
Every driver you meet on the small two-lane roads has a friendly wave. I think the rest of our nation could take a lesson. These folks know what is important.
As far as that T-shirt caption, I hope our country hasn't figured out too late that it has nothing at all to do with winning but everything in the world to do with dying.
Think I'll pick up the decoys and head to the barn, too many negative vibes in the blind today.
The pair of Cooper's hawks continued to look for breakfast.
Contact Tom Bryant by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
More like this story