While my usual writings for this column are about shooting, hunting and general outdoor topics, I feel I should share with you something of a more personal nature that is unfolding even as I write this installment. While I tend to stay at arm’s length with my personal life in the articles that I write, there is something that will be happening over the next few days that is just too good to keep solely to myself. And so, here goes.
To set the tone, I have often written about the importance of sharing the out-of-doors with other folks and the importance of introducing new members to our outdoor fraternity. With that in mind, I am faced with trying to decipher whether or not a potential new member of my family will be open-minded to hunting, shooting and the general nature of being in the woods, and how I need to gently bring that person into the fold of serious conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts.
You see, it began just a few months ago, when my youngest son, Tim, flew in from California with Britt, his new “lady friend” — whom he had been dating for just a few weeks — to attend a family gathering in the Pittsburgh area. While it was obvious that they were both quite “smitten” with each other, it was early in their relationship and I had many questions, but little time to really secure the answers. She quickly interacted with all the family members and was an easy person to talk with, but there were just too many other folks there who were engaging her in conversations. I told her about the upcoming October Fall Fest here at my home — that is actually occurring this weekend — and told her that I hoped she would come in for the weekend with my son in hopes that I would be able to spend more time talking with her and getting to know her better. She liked the idea.
Why did I have reservations? Well, I have been a life-long conservative and outdoor enthusiast who hunts and fishes for a great portion of what I put on my dinner table. I spent my formative years growing up in Lycoming County and have the very typical values and ideals of a rural Pennsylvanian who likes to be independent and not count on the government for any kind of handouts or help in any way.
Britt, on the other hand, is a fifth-generation Californian…! Born and raised, pure and simple! Our initial conversations at the family gathering seemed to disclose that she did not have what I stereotypically thought of as the California attitude and mentality. Before talking to her, I pegged her as the usual liberal, government-dependent closed-minded person who typifies a lot of the West Coast population. Would my mind be changed as we talked? Would my pre-conceived notions pan out, or would I find out she was more open-minded and that there was a good chance she would accept and be interested in these conservative and rural values I have held so dearly all of my life?
I quickly realized that, while she is extremely attractive on the outside, she was much more beautiful on the inside. She was coming across as well-rounded in her interests, seemed to be rather open-minded to various conversations and even declared that she had nothing against hunting — in fact, was interested in talking more about it with me and doing some shooting, which was all new to her.
Fast forward from that family gathering to this weekend here at my home. On the flight in from California, my son, Tim, proposed to her. She accepted. So, she arrives at my house as his fiancé and my potential future daughter-in-law! Pretty exciting times for everyone!
But, there still remain my underlying concerns. Will she truly embrace my love of hunting and fishing, will she really be open-minded about the trophy room with all of the “dead heads” that adorn the walls and — for me — are a wonderful reminder of memorable adventures from the past and will she really be interested in shooting firearms of various kinds?
Time will tell, and as this weekend unfolds, there will finally be answers to many of my questions and, hopefully, a lifting of any doubts that I may have. I will follow up next time with what I anticipate will be a very positive outcome to this Fall Fest. Meanwhile, please wish me “Good Luck!”