An Antonym for Hibernation

Every November I have a dream of Hibernating through the Winter. Wrapping myself in a blanket, building a fire, and sitting down with a cup of hot cocoa and a book. Usually by December that dream dies a horrible death.

It always seems to start with car problems. The week before the first snow of the year my wife’s car or my own will break down (and sometimes it’s both). I’ll rush around trying to fix it for a week and one or two days before I do the first major snow will fall for the year. Generally I then groan and look at all the things that I’ve put off for the last week while I was trying to fix my vehicle, knowing they’ll be much harder with four inches of snow on the ground. This year I was unlucky, and after a month and a few hundred dollars worth of parts I still couldn’t get the car fixed, so ended up buying a new truck.

After the car problems there’s our annual Christmas party, then Christmas, New Year, and the month of January. January sometimes feels like a month long social event, because everyone makes the trip home from college and wants to hang out. February, March and April always seem to find new ways to make my life hectic every year. (For those of you wondering, Winter officially lasts until April in my book. Around here snow doesn’t completely melt from your lawn until mid-April, and then a storm usually deposits one or two more coatings of it before the weather warms up sufficiently.)

This year the chaos included a landlord accidentally flooding the cabin I rent, my wife taking a month-long trip to a foreign country, and our continuing search for a house to buy.

I suppose realistically winter in Montana is a time of hyperactivity, which unfortunately is not brought about by the sugar in hot cocoa.

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Hunting

I feel like I need to give an explanation of my history with hunting. I was very confused when I first heard the argument that “hunting is not a sport because the human has an unfair advantage.” By my calculations I have a very significant disadvantage when I hunt.

My dad hunted all throughout my childhood, but only when there was more grocery money to be saved by buying a deer tag than by working the number of hours that would be spent hunting. I was never extremely excited by hunting, it was just a thing that you did to get food. This is why I was halfway through high school before I took hunters education and got a deer tag. Unfortunately, I realized that I had waited one year too long, and was no longer able to shoot a doe as a minor.

I spent the next few Novembers carrying a gun through the woods searching for a buck, that was my hunting for four years. During this time I saw a single buck, which bounded, at full sprint, from thick brush on the right hand side of a gravel road, touched its front, then it’s back feet in the middle of the road, and disappeared into the thick brush on the left hand side of the road. By the time we had skidded to a stop in my dads truck the buck was across a partially-frozen swamp and halfway up a mountainside, still running. I’ve often wondered what could have spooked that deer so much.

With such bad luck at finding something that was even legal to shoot at, I eventually gave up on buying a hunting license. It isn’t worth $50 in licenses and tags, $50 in gas, and countless hours of unproductivity to sit in the cold hopelessly.

For three years I didn’t buy a license, until last year I decided to give it a try again and hunt with my wife. We have since mutually realized that we should never hunt together. I’m like β€œDear, let’s find a tree and sit under it until a deer walks by.” She’s like β€œI saw a flash of white half a mile away and moving fast, maybe it’s a buck. Grab your gun! Run after it!”

So why did I decide to start hunting again? Because last year for the first week of hunting season shooting white-tail does was legal. However I hadn’t heard of this before the season started last year, and therefore hadn’t put any time aside to hunt.

But this year, 2017, I was ready. I set out, gun in hand, hunting skills as rusty as a mines whistle, to finally shoot a deer. Or not, I mean, old habits die hard.

100% of Proceeds Go To…

A few days ago I found myself in Arby’s, looking to grab a small bite to eat before heading out to dinner at a fancy restaurant with small portions. I thought I was lucky when I walked in, there was only one person between me and the cash register.

Unfortunately, though, he was an old man who had some trouble explaining what he wanted. He was near the end of his order when I walked in, and would have been on his way fairly quickly if the teenager behind the counter hadn’t asked “Would you like to donate a dollar to the Montana Children’s Charity today?”

The old man said yes, but then immediately asked “But tell me, does all the money go to the kids?”

“Yes.” The teenager replied.

The old man said “Well in that case I’d like to donate five dollars,” as he reached for his wallet.

However, after the money had been handed over the man must have began to think about the short answer the teen had given, and it unnerved him.

“Just how do I know that all that money makes it to the kids?” He asked, and the conversation went like this for the next several minutes.

When I finally got my food and sat down I glanced at the old man and thought of what he said. I wonder how many people don’t give to charities because they think that a good portion of the money gets spent on the bureaucracy of the organization itself. It brought to mind a friend who said he had to stop going to the Church he attended, and a good portion of his grievances were about how they would spend more money on new microphones and flowers than on charity or Bibles.

I was happy to be able to tell him that my Church had never had that type of issue, in fact it was sporting the same coat of well-maintained yellow paint that it’d had when I’d started attending there as a two-year-old. I would expect that all institutions dedicated to helping others should be similar. If our local library had done a drive to update a few shelves of reference books, rather than to refurbish their reading room, I may have donated some money. If a children’s hospital or animal clinic had an outdated building then I would assume that they’re efficient at passing along donations, and be willing to give more.

But of course, outdated buildings and reference books and yellow paint don’t look very impressive. I feel like the facades charities present are mostly so that the donors can say “Look at what I was a part of,” and receive respect. I personally have very little respect for those who give not to help, but because it’s popular. Of course, some of them don’t realize that their motives may not be right, and some charities don’t realize that they’re not actually helping the poor by planting expensive flowers ‘to bring in more donations.’

I would just ask that anyone reading this take a moment to deeply consider the institutions you support or are involved in. Are they misallocating the money on their organization? If so, how can you help them pass along the money more efficiently? Consider your thoughts on the matter a donation to them, maybe.

Taking Offense

It bothers me when people say that we don’t have to deal with race issues in Montana because there aren’t very many African-American folks here. What, race issues can’t come up with Native Americans and people of Asian descent, of which we have many? But let’s assume for a minute that we don’t know how to deal with race in Montana. We still know how to deal with people in general. You just treat everyone decently and let them mind their own business unless it infringes on yours (like kicking your dog or fooling around with your girlfriend.)

I think treating everyone like this, regardless of their skin color, should go a long way to stopping any sort of racial conflict. Maybe I’m wrong though. Continue reading “Taking Offense”

Born in a Town Where I Never Lived

My parents decided to move to Montana while my mom was pregnant with me. They bought a property located ten miles up a dirt road from the highway, and there my dad started building a cabin. One day he had an accident with a chainsaw, cutting his hand badly and needing to go to the doctor.

The doctor lived in a small town about fifteen miles from my parents property, and I will never forget the description I got of him. Continue reading “Born in a Town Where I Never Lived”