If we are lucky, we have business, personal and family rituals that help keep us happy and on an even keel.
Often these rituals coincide with seasons and mark the passing of one season as much as they offer the promise of a new one.
And so, as Labor Day arrives the hay has been cut and stacked over the summer, the boats sit idle on trailers, in slips and at docks, and the sometimes languid and peaceful lull brought on by school vacation comes to an end.
Whether we are in school or not, or have children who are no longer students, our calendars are often similar to those of families whose lives navigate around the ebb and flow of the school year.
But in Texas the days surrounding Labor Day offer one of the great breaks from humdrum routine: opening day of dove hunting season on Sept. 1.
The doves fly in just after sunrise and then just before sunset. There’s a long gap in between for eating, drinking beer, and just hanging out. The non-hunters are most likely aghast to read about drinking beer and handling firearms but, hey, this is Texas, after all.
Facebook was jammed with messages this week highlighting the rituals of family and friends leading up to opening day and then tales of a day of shooting.
There is a romantic notion about all of these rituals that surround hunting season, and some among us might scoff at them. But the romance is real.
Shotguns get oiled and the pungent aroma lingers in the house. Hunting clothes, camouflage in this case, come out of the closet. A phone call from a friend informed me that he was going first to his lease with his business partner so he could prepare to take his young sons there over the weekend.
And it’s not just fathers and sons who learn the traditions. It’s also fathers, mothers and daughters.
One female friend wrote on Facebook that she wanted to apologize to her anti-hunting, anti-gun friends but by God she was getting out the Beretta and “oiling it up.”
Her photos posted on opening day had lots of smiling faces with family and friends but none of the day’s quarry. Opening day of dove season is less about shooting birds than about camaraderie and, of course, ritual.
On the other hand, a good day in the field can lead to a great night in the kitchen as once again family recipes for dove are hauled out.
My favorite opening-day post described a friend’s wonderful day of hunting and the reward of coming home to recount and relive the day’s endeavors while sipping a good strong glass of Scotch.
Whether his next post was before, during, or after the Scotch I do not know but I suspect he did not mean his words to be taken literally:
“I went home and soaked my breasts in milk and then wrapped them with bacon.”
That’s a lot of dairy and a huge slab of bacon, I thought, but so much for rituals.
Richard Connor is chairman of the parent company of Fort Worth Business, DRC Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.