20 September, 2004

Burwell Manning Dove Hunts

Spent a breezy day out near Heathwood Hall, absorbing the cool wind through my pores. The sky was deep and without cloud - more autumn than summer now. I saw lots of family and got to catch up with a few of them.
The atmosphere always sounds like a battlefield, volleys of gunshots coming from all sides and distances, but the doves still fly like gangbusters, everywhere and all at once. I can see parts of people, mingled about cornstalks, hedgerows and sunflowers, generally in the sparse shade. Dogs pant with great canine smiles, some looking skyward with anticipation.
I love the sunflowers best.
But the rows of pickup trucks and all the men in kaki pants and camo tops, shell bags and ballcaps, most with a little paunch - this is why I love SC. Young and old, family and friends. Most I really hardly know, but the idea of it represents what is "good" about the south. Burwell has been having these shots longer than I can remember. A hundred people sometimes, all excited to come. Arguible some of the best dove hunting anywhere in the south. But still it is mostly family: Kaki, Belton, McLain, Deas, the Boyd's, Walker's - it's all family. What's the difference.

I feel different, like I don't fit in anymore if I ever really did, but something about it is so refreshing, so revitalizing, grounding - I feel like 'I just needed to be there', regardless of any conversation or tangible happening. I love these people. They represent what is real and what is good about my home, my past, and my family. It is something that I know to be real. It is a rock of calm certainty in my sea of constant challenge and change.

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