In other words, it's called hunting
It is the smell of salt and spices and grease and waking on a cold morning in December knowing breakfast is downstairs.
It is warm socks against cold feet and gently pulling the lace tight, hoping it won’t snap today.
It is frost and cold and stars in the sky and walking side by side when the earth is still and dark and soft. It is a place you dreamt of last night, have longed for all season, and it is finding your way across the creek, in the woods, up the hill, by the old, forgotten, possibly haunted, nearly rotted, remnants of a shed that was here before any of these trees were a few-feet tall.
It is a flannel shirt. It is a belt, a knife, the gloves with the hole, ripped while crossing a rusted barbed-wire fence two years ago where a bleached-white antler — weathered, dried, and stained with the red mud of this place — was found.
It is climbing a tree. It is tucking into a blind. It is standing against an oak tree that was here before the war and, maybe, the war before that one, too.
It is footprints in the mud. It is mud on the truck tires, mud on the legs of a dog, and the tranquil nature of a rare snow on a Tuesday in December while you are tucked in the warmth of a cedar tree, at the bottom of a late-planted wheat field, where a dozen turkeys and one, lone, ever-alert, young deer feeds.
It is poetry and written prose, and the picture that is in black-and-white form of someone you know or knew whose memory has lasted from then to now and will last tomorrow, too.
It is a single-shot, and that is enough. It is looking across the way and knowing nothing is in the way. It is witnessing the sun honest. It is feeling the moon speak in fiction. It’s knowing that a cold rain on a cold day when everyone else is everywhere else but on the bend of a creek, nestled in the pines, deep in the woods, where the beavers and the squirrels and birds and deer are feeding on acorns and browse, and it is only for your moistened eyes.
It is looking. It is seeing. It is a sandwich made with ham and love, and the sandwich maker doesn’t hunt but understands that you do.
It is the burst from below your feet of a rabbit. It is feeding doves by the dozens. It is handshakes and hugs and pats on the bucks and kind jokes because everyone misses.
It is a cousin and a friend and someone you meet at work and share an afternoon in the field, and it is the exchange of a pound cake for a season of hunting.
It is a wet dog. It is fire made from gathered wood in a cut and rusted barrel where you warm your hands and the front and then the back. It is hanging a coat on a familiar nail. It is the briar patch and the place the oak tree fell on the tobacco barn, the same one where you spent every August, decades ago, when the oak tree was healthy and tobacco paid the bills.
It is teaching a child and being taught by a child. It is asking advice and sharing opinion. It is a guess. It is an ongoing conversation had over the course of years about what you both want to do one day.
It is young and old. It is rich and poor. It is black and white. It is right and never wrong. It is sunrise. It is life.
It is hunting.
Enjoy your time outdoors.
You may reach outdoors columnist Jason Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.