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  • Sarah Reijonen

Silence with the Golden Boy

“Likes long, silent walks in the woods.”

Maybe this wouldn’t have been in my personal ad years ago, but it is now (not that I have or need a personal ad!)

Spank and I nearly tip-toed through the land mine of twigs, sticks and branches. One full-footed step could spook an elk, or worse yet, get me a stern look from my husband. It was my first hunting trip, after all, and I didn’t want to end up blackballed from future excursions. I was honored that Spank even asked me to accompany him on this last-minute elk hunting trip up north. I was raring to go after just having completed my Hunters Education earlier this year.

We rose early every morning of our quick, five-day trip to northeast Washington. The first morning was a special one—my first! We commemorated the trip with a special nod to Spanky’s grandfather, who taught him all about hunting and totted him around on scouting missions as a boy. This called for coffee and butterhorns! No eggs for us. Nope, it was the swirly, cinnamony, pre-packaged goodness of 2-week-old donuts held together by sugar, preservatives and plastic. It was a special way to start the trip.

When we got to our hunting spot, we proceeded with the twig tip-toeing. Spank hunched over in his bright orange vest and I couldn’t help but think of Elmer Fudd hunting “wascly wabbits.” I love my husband’s intensity in these moments and I try to emulate them like a child. Aside from watching my step, I wondered if the elk were also tiptoeing around, skirting branches and going, “Watch it, those big, bright, fleshy blobs are out trying to blow our heads off!”

I’m so grateful that my husband includes me in his hobbies. He doesn’t just include me, he invites me and teaches me. He shares his passions with me and lets me into some of the most sacred spaces (i.e. the boys club).

Of course, I give him his space and I don’t always adore his hobbies as much as he does (ahem, gold mining), but it means the world that he wants me there with him; plus, those are some of my favorite memories metal detecting in Australia, salmon fishing in Alaska and now hunting on his home turf in eastern Washington.

The time alone with Spank was valuable, even in the silence. I mean, we didn’t really do much talking—it’s frowned upon when hunting and fishing—but I found it rejuvenating. There are so many screens and distractions anymore. I sunk into the silence like a day at the spa in a mist of fog and the scent of fallen leaves beginning to decay on the ground. Some of the trees still held their leaves and needles. I paid special attention to the glowing, yellow tamaracks, which are the only fir trees that are also deciduous, changing color and losing their needles every year. The morning light shone on the tops of the tamaracks like a spotlight highlighting them in their fall debut.

I am a sucker for fall colors, but it was the silence that struck me once again. As a bird flew overhead, its wings seemed as loud as the blades of a helicopter. A woodpecker chipped away at tree, and I could almost feel it in my chest like a jackhammer. Spank reminded me that while I was more in-tune with the sounds of nature, the animals’ senses were even more heightened. I finally felt like the man-child in the relationship as Spank reminded me to slow my movements and lay off the zippers. (Insert stern look.) I would also tell you about the morning bathroom breaks and vast amount of TP I had to pack each morning, but I don’t want to ruin this lovely blog.

While we didn’t come home with any meat for our freezer—we only saw a herd of cows with one spike, but they were on private land—I came home with a new appreciation for the age-old art of hunting and can see why it’s so appealing, animal or no animal (Though it would have been good to kill dinner for the next year! Salmon and halibut, it is!)

For now, I am reminded that I need more silence and more new experiences. Life is one big lesson, but you don’t learn anything until you move out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to dress in camo, but you do need to try new things. I’m also aware of the fact that my life is full of too much noise and too many distractions. We can’t let everything drown out the silence. We must find moments of peace and quiet to reflect. I think I’ve found one of my goals for the New Year…

At the end of the water A red sun is risin' And the stars are all goin' away And if you're too busy talkin' You're not busy listenin' To hear what the land has to say Quiet your mind

“Quiet Your Mind” by Zach Brown Band

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