I believe that I have a very good sense of humor.  My wife of nearly 44 years agrees - well, kind of.  What she usually says when I am on a natural roll, especially with someone I’ve just met, is, “He thinks he’s funny.”  After all those years of practice she can even say it with a somewhat deadpan expression, so that it doesn’t sound at all like the compliment I know that she means to pay me. 

We have never done much to celebrate New Year’s Eve or the day itself.  The mitigating factor is that neither Michelle or I have ever been big drinkers.  However, in my younger, working years I also had an adverse reaction to “wasting time off”.  So, when I was fortunate enough to get an extra paid day off from my job I felt that it was completely squandered if I wasn’t doing something.  I was thinking about this earlier this week as New Year’s Day had once more come around and we were without any real plans.  It got me to thinking about a New Year’s Day probably 30ish years ago.

There was a good foot and a half of snow on the ground that year.  The day dawned bright and the sky was clear and blue.  The problem was that the temperature hovered close to zero and it wasn’t supposed to have the strength to climb much from there.  So, taking our four children sledding or out for any other outdoor pursuit was a non-starter.  So, I paced back and forth between the kitchen and living room with agitation. 

The solution to my unscratched busyness itch came in the form of a phone call.  The caller was a fellow lover of all things outdoors.  He too, was looking for something useful to do with the day.  He suggested a drive to some nearby thickets and brush along the train tracks just north of Pulaski where we could engage in the willful pursuit of rabbits.  “Absolutely!” I exclaimed before he had a chance to reconsider the offer.  “I can be ready by the time you drive over.”  So, I set about changing into something appropriate for the weather and the purpose.  And, I began to gather up the necessary gear.

I made a little pile of my gear by the back door and began watching out the kitchen window for my friend’s truck.  Michelle and the kids came into the kitchen, lined up against the wall.  Michelle asked the children, “Where is daddy going, children?”  They broke out loudly into song: “He’s going to kill the wabbitt, the wabbitt, the wabbitt!”

Then I could hear it from the living room where Michelle has popped in a VHS tape (I said this was 30ish years ago) of Bugs Bunny’s introduction to opera.  Elmer Fudd, who spent many futile years pursuing that ‘rascally rabbit’, in that particular cartoon has his hunt set to opera music.  When it appears that Elmer has at long last successfully bagged Bugs, there is a real tear jerker of a scene where he regrets his foul deed.  Michelle considered it the perfect serenade to sending me off on my own rabbit hunt.  I was quite relieved when I heard a car horn honk and I could exit out the back door.

The actual rabbit hunt was relatively short-lived.  There was a biting wind to go with the bitter cold.  While the snow was deep enough but manageable in town, out in the open it had drifted significantly, so that in spots it was three feet deep.  And the snow was powdery so there was no thicker rust on top to hold you up.  You had to wade on through each drift.  

I did manage to jump one rabbit.  He burst out of a snow drift just about ten feet in front of my shotgun barrel.  I found his fuzzy little cotton tail with my front bead and slid the safety off.  At the same time that was happening I heard this little voice inside my head screaming, “Don’t shoot!”  I will state quite emphatically and for the public record that my only concern was that if I did pull the trigger at that range there would be very little rabbit left for the pot.  The image of Elmer’s pathetic, regretful face had nothing to do with it.  The rabbit meanwhile settled the matter by diving into a burrow and making good his escape.  Alas.

I have mellowed in my old(er) age.  I was quite content to have another cup of coffee and turn the page this New Year’s Day.  Of course, being retired now, there isn’t the same sense of urgency to fill every moment of every day, and that’s a good thing.  Still, if a friend would have called to go rabbit hunting, I believe I would have.  And Michelle, well let’s just say that when she reads this I know she’s going to chuckle.  You see, she still thinks she’s funny.

His Peace <><

Deacon Dan