This time of year makes me want to sing for joy! In spite of the ladybugs, the crisp fall air does wonders for the soul! But as the harvest reaches full swing and the humidity heads south for the winter, I lose my living room floor to a mountain of plastic birds.
Last fall we missed out on the hunting frenzy as my husband left for a yearlong deployment with the Army National Guard. But this fall he’s home, and the fury is back in full force! The duck boat has been exhumed from the shed. The shotgun has been cleaned, examined, polished, examined again, and lovingly put away in anticipation. And lucky me, my husband has located every last one of his duck calls, even the two that accidentally fell deep in my sock drawer a couple years ago.
Like most men in waders, my husband’s eyes glaze over when he starts putting together his game plan for duck opener. His transformation from my mild mannered husband to Mallard Man frightened me when we were first married. I figured hunting season must be what the “for better or worse” thing was about. But, if I was going to be a good wife, I felt like I should enjoy the same things my husband did. After all, if my groom was willing to dress up like Rambo and leave the house before dawn, it must be fun.
The fun began when my husband woke me at 4am with a contest to see who could put on the most layers. I slipped into my thermal underwear without opening my eyes, while my husband rifled through his drawers like a madman, muttering about things like gortex, polypropylene, and cordura. I thought he was having a nightmare about some sort of motor oil.
Getting the boat ready was mainly my husband's job, so there wasn't much physical involvement for me. Unfortunately, he hated to see anyone just standing around, so I was put in charge of doing a quick decoy touch up. The fact that this involved spray paint and me before my first cup of coffee didn't seem to bother my husband. He wasn't at all impressed that some of his ducks looked more like Woody Woodpecker when I was finished, but I thought they looked pretty.
Driving to the perfect spot was the closest I got to enjoying myself, even though I was getting an earful about the differences between waterfowl. Luckily, my husband was so absorbed in his own explanation that he didn't notice my dozing.
Launching the boat had me ready to turn around and go home. We couldn't use the normal boat ramp to gently ease the boat into the water. We had to pick a spot where the only way to get in involved me with water up to my knees in the smelliest part of the slough. I remember thinking that sloughs were conveniently left out of our wedding vows. I was quickly chilled to the bone and not even close to having fun.
While still dark, we made our way to the spot my husband had scouted out for weeks. Little did I know, a motor is useless in a duck boat, because obviously it makes too much noise. I got to help row.
When we breathlessly arrived, it was time for my husband to maneuver the boat while I dropped decoys. I learned the hard way that mallards cannot swim next to pintails, and pintails can't possibly go beside teal. After rearranging the lovely things twice, I gently informed my beloved that the ducks I was hunting did not care what formation the decoys were in. Using his better judgment, he called it good and we headed for cover.
I settled in to snooze for the next fifteen minutes until the sun appeared. I had just enough time to start enjoying the predawn peace when a duck call exploded in my ear and nearly sent my flying out of the boat. Seems decoys aren't enough for today's duck; they need conversation too.
The hunting began right on schedule. I even got to shoot once. Does buck fever become duck fever when hunting waterfowl?
We were lucky enough to get two and cautiously left our cover to retrieve them. I gathered our timing was off when the biggest flock we'd seen all morning chose that time to fly overhead. Apparently, the affect of decoys is lost when there is a boat in the middle of them.
When the time to leave mercifully came and my husband chatted happily about how much fun he had, I came to a serious conclusion; I was obviously the brains in this marriage. And on the ride home I plotted new and painful uses for his duck call if he even suggested I learn how to clean a duck.
Climbing back into bed that day was heavenly, and my mood softened as I warmed up beside my hunter. I reached over to give him a squeeze and thought that maybe sharing all the same interests was not God’s intention for our marriage. As husband and wife, there will always be times we march to the beat of a different drummer, but maybe that’s something we should be thankful for instead of trying to change. Maybe God wants us to enjoy singing different tunes, as long as we turn to Him for the harmony.