Monday, January 24, 2011

Tree Stand Days

   I love country stores.  There is something in the way that they smell and invite hunters for miles around to explore their wares that makes me go there for no apparent reason. Given my affinity for things of this nature, it shouldn't be surprising that my dream is to own such a store with some sort of amazing archery and gun range. (Obviously not in the exact same vicinity, that would get really messy real quickly.)  DU is all about this, as he keeps looking at places that need such a company and things that we could stock.

   One day, early in our relationship, DU came up and visited my Yankee self in Lockport, NY.  For those of you who haven't been there, you haven't missed much.  Lockport consists of about 2 dozen streets.  The best restaurant was a hole-in-the-wall kind of place that serves the best steak I've ever had.  Besides that, Lockport doesn't have much to offer. The town is small and pretty urban. I lived above the garage of a pink Victorian house and had barely enough room for a bed, let alone anything else. We spent the majority of our time together exploring places, visiting my home town, or walking Titus (then the solitary puppy in my life). We would meander around town and inevitably someone would walk past.  If any eye contact was made, DU would nod or say hi. This sort of greeting is never really reciprocated in the north.  Hence, DU stuck out like an uncomfortable,sore thumb with his Indianian drawl and southern attitude. He'd speak and either no one could understand him or they just ignored him.  Ah yes, the hospitality of the north.

   During this visit,  I took DU to my favorite country store.  I was introduced to Johnson's before I moved to Lockport so by the time I moved, I was excited to live five minutes from it.  The shop has a log-cabin feel and has that down-home feeling that a lot of the big chain stores lack. The best aspect of Johnson's overall is the staff.  As a new hunter, I was a little scared with how I was going to be received in the hunting community.  Would I look like a poser? A novice idiot who had no idea what in the world I was doing? Or worst of all, did I resemble someone who hunting simply because the man in my life did?  Fortunately, the guys at Johnson's accepted me with open arms, with a lot of good-natured jokes thrown in.

     I bought my first bow and shotgun at that store from a man who passed away shortly after I met him.  I owe a lot to his tattooed self. I wish I had known him longer, as he was the most passionate hunter I'd ever come in contact with.  He would insist that my ex and I would stay late, after operating hours, to hang out if we needed our bows adjusted. When I killed my first deer, I knew he was watching from above, proud as a poppa bear. The rest of the guys knew me and I made them cookies at frequent intervals, simply to thank them for the superior service they provided. Leaving that store was terrible because it is impossible to get that kind of one-on-one attention at any of the big chain stores (worse yet- no one to make cookies for!)

   One worker who seriously loved to pick on this short huntress had recently called and told me there was something they specifically bought with me in mind.  DU was eager to see what they thought was quintessentially me, so I led him to Johnson's. As I walked in, I saw everyone's eyes widen in surprise.  This store had been the frequent stomping ground for myself and my ex. So, when I waltzed in with another guy, people were suspicious.  None more so than my favorite worker.  Fortunately, he knew me and knew what my situation was so he welcomed DU with open arms.  Once the formalities had been taken care of, we got to the good stuff.  Out came a pink camo shotgun that was so utterly not me that I loved it.

    As soon as DU saw it, he laughed.  He had been planning on ordering me the same firearm for my birthday but this took care of it.  We walked out of the store wanting to shoot it.  I looked at DU and said, "When we run our own store, we have to give employees time off to hunt and shoot guns."

   DU thought about this seriously and said, "Of course, we'll call them Tree Stand Days."

   After some discussion, we proclaimed that a Tree Stand Day is:

     Definition: (n [as in "Today is a Tree Stand Day],v [as in "I feel like Tree Standing this day"],adj [Two weeks from now feels like a Tree Standy Day])
     A 24 hour span in which something spectacular of a hunting nature occurs.  This includes but is not limited to: buying a firearm, bow, ammunition, or camouflage; venturing to a pro-shop or some sort of destination hunting store; scouting deer; hanging out on a rusty tailgate truck, drinking PBR, and discussing hunting.  Days spent hunting, even in a tree stand, do not constitute a Tree Stand Day. This statement comes from rule 7, section 8 of Tree Stand Day Bylaws which state that since hunting in a tree stand is commonplace for hunters, Tree Stand Days connote some special occurrence within the hunting realm, therefore hunting itself is NOT Tree Stand Day worthy.

   Since that pivotal day,  DU and I have celebrated many Tree Stand Days.  We never plan them, they just tend to happen naturally. It is only after we buy a gun, try out a new bow, or adventure to the distant Gander Mountain that we realize, Oh My Goodness! It's a Tree Stand Day!  We then celebrate by grilling or going somewhere different for dinner.

   My time with DU has been punctuated with random Tree Stand Days. We've been fishing at midnight.  We get excited buying random hunting implements and taking the boat out to scout for ducks.  Each day that we get to spend together, doing something we love, is considered not only a rockin' Tree Stand Day but also a blessing.

   Today is a very special and uncommon Tree Stand Day.  In a couple of hours, DU and I have reservations to the extremely expensive restaurant where we had our first date.  In an attempt to woo this interesting huntress, DU chose the spot, unaware of its price. He says now that he'd pay tenfold for that dinner again if I asked.  Of course, I don't ask but I know he isn't bluffing.  Almost a year later, the restaurant is a part of a special week that has cheap dinners at ritzy eating establishments.  We grabbed a table right at the perfect time and since we can't afford such a venture for our actual anniversary, I'm considering it as such.  Although we're not purchasing the latest camo or going to a gun show, I'm still dubbing it a Tree Stand Day. 

  Even as I sit here, 15 minutes until I leave work early in order to get pretty for tonight, I'm nervous- even more so than I was for our first date.  The first time I sat down with DU, I knew nothing of Tree Stand Days or how beautiful a duck call sounds like. I didn't know that anyone could love, understand, and support me like DU does. He tells me I'm beautiful when I'm covered in mud, feeling like I gained 48 pounds, my face expertly painted with black makeup and claims he wouldn't want it any other way. (I have an inclination he's lying about that one.) DU has taught me to stand on my own two feet, to think for myself, and that unconditional love exists. And for that, I'm eternally grateful.

  I implore you to be aware of the Tree Stand Days in your life, they're a blessing from God and should be treated as such.

UPDATE: We had a great time.  The food was absolutely amazing- a carnivore haven with perfect mint lamb tenderloin, amazing top sirloin and a copious amount of other meat beautifulness.


A Reel Lady said...

Wonderful post. I love spending time in the woods or on the water with my husband, but every girl enjoys getting all dolled up ONCE in a while too. :) Happy Anniversary whenever it is!

Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

Reel Lady- Thank you so much for stopping by! I agree, I enjoy getting dressed up every once in a while for something fun like dinner last night. Nice to know that I still turn his head even when I'm not in camo. :-)

Anonymous said...

Great post, nothing beats a tree stand day.

Whitetail Woods Blog / Deer Hunting and Blackpowder Shooting at it’s best.

Lorraine said...

DU isn't wearing the infamous pink shirt!

DeanO said...

Country Stores - I'm on board with that. I love them also. Wood floors that creak, wooden shelves and clerks that help.

Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

Rick- I agree!

Heals- I know! The thing doesn't fit him anymore- that and he still thinks it's orange.

DeanO- I completely neglected to include the creaky floorboards! Thank you for reminding me!