Saturday, December 13, 2008

Field & Stream

The alarm's ring barged into my fragile sleep at 5am this morning. I lazed around until Philip was dressed and going to awaken Ashlin. I must admit I do enjoy the hair & make-up prep time involved in such an early excursion. One bobby pin, two pigtail holders - positioned low to accommodate the wool mask, and "nada" as far as cosmetication.

Ashlin had slept in most of her clothes, I think, so we were on our way in no time. The cold, dark drive to the deer lease was comfortably quiet. We parked inside the gate, mounted the four-wheeler, and rode to the far side of the lease. The rest of the trek was on foot. Over a hill, through a creek bottom, down a few paths and ultimately into a bit of clearing where the "King Delux" deer stand waits to comfortably accommodate multiple hunters of all ages, skill levels, and attention spans.

Two years ago, we built this stand on the base of a boat trailer. Philip laid a floor then welded four walls to it. It is insulated, carpeted, and has wrap-around window openings that drop down for optimal marksmanship. After a slanted tin roof was added, all we needed was my artfully applied faux finish. I actually had all my kids plus their neighborhood buddies out in the yard with paint. Newborn Mari oversaw the whole operation from her infant carrier. The genius of using a boat trailer for the platform came shining through as we merely hooked it up to the suburban, hauled it out to the perfect spot on the lease, and parked it there.

Appropriately furnished, the "king delux" has two padded, rolling, swivel office chairs available for panoramic scouting. Taking full advantage of the vast square footage of the family stand, this morning Ashlin spent the majority of her "hunt" snoring in a sleeping bag on the floor in the nose of the trailer. Hunting is tough business. At one point, I was able to turn my chair away from Philip and subtly prop my head back on the chair. With the mild mechanical pivot of my left foot, I tried to convince him I was "keeping a look out"; when in reality, I was thieving precious moments of secret dozing. I could tell he did not trust the diligence of my efforts as his own scans became full 360 degree revolutions. I was just not doing my part.

We stayed for a couple hours. We saw no deer. We saw the sunrise. We saw birds. We saw squirrels. We saw no deer. Ashli said she was ready to go. Philip told her to check with me. I winked at her through my mask and she assured her dad we were "all" ready to go.

As we tromped back through the woods, Ashli made sure that IHOP was next on the morning's agenda. One of the most challenging side effects presented during this pregnancy is an uncharacteristic lack of decisiveness. The anxiety of choosing one set of eggs and one version of breakfast carbs at IHOP and then having to commit to those choices was nearly overwhelming. I selfishly probed to see how firm Ash's decision was. When I explained to her that Golden Corral had fresh fruit [and many, many choices to which you must offer little long term commitment], she enthusiastically changed her request. She even asked that we find a table near the fruit.

What a fun breakfast! Just Dad, Mom, & Ash...and platefuls of fresh fruit. Except grapefruit. She said "Greatfruit is not great!" As we left the restaurant holding hands, she looked up at me and said that this had been the most special morning in the world.

Thank You, Lord, for today. You are the Creator and Sustainer of all things. We PRAISE You! Thank You for Ashlin and all that she means to us. Thank You for calling her to Yourself. Help us continue to be sensitive to Your Spirit's prompting on her life, so we can make the path straight for her. Thank You for a wonderful morning. Thank You for the quality time!