The month of September fulfills me. It primes then gives me October which in turn prepares and loads me for hunting season and cooler weather. As a child Autumn meant a slight change to the color of our trees and chilly rain and windy dark mornings which kept the ducks low beneath the clouds, susceptible to the slightest squeak of my uncle's old and worn duckcall.
She, his wife, made our lunch. He required bacon biscuits which she'd tightly wrap in old paper sacks and then pack inside a canvas bag along with two large Alladins filled with doctored coffee. Her biscuits were as large as my fist. For some reason she'd say, "I don't know what's wrong with ham..." She was strange, that way.
I too remember how I'd wipe the window for a glimpse of swamp or occasional peek of cattail filled canals - an indication of arrival. When you're a boy the anticipation of decoy placement and duck thick skies wears upon you. I was puckered for the kill.
It fell to me to hump the smelly burlap sack of decoys. I'd stand deep in the mud and reach over the bed for the wet sack of heavy and then make my way along the trail of cold water as the Nor'easter slammed my bent form. There was the thick salty smell of tidal marsh, the crunch of oyster shell, the faintly lighted horizon where deep dark clouds scudded before the wind and in the distance often the whistle of pintails. I was happy for my Woolworths heavy shirt. Still I shivered.
Years have melted my memory of the shotgun. I remember it was a double, fairly heavy for a teen. Other than its gauge, it lines escape me. Probably a Savage or Mossberg, doesn't matter, it filled my dreams of ducks on the water. Even the hunt isn't important to me now. The dogs are long gone, as is my Uncle, a man I didn't truly like. He was just my ride. Whatever became of the shotgun I'll never know, it too isn't important.