More signs that the year is changing. The sunflowers have gone to seed, and the seed has been mostly consumed now – by any number of bird varieties, but most especially by the mourning doves, for whom they were planted in the first place. It is a hunting technique – plant a field of food and shoot in the general direction of the birds that come to feed there. It is not an easy thing to kill a dove with a shotgun, let alone the dozen or so that actually make the exercise worthwhile from a culinary standpoint. But the first weekend of September brings a ritual that brings a lot of people together to do something in the out of doors, and that in of itself is rare enough anymore to make the rest understandable. There is often a big picnic at the end of the day’s hunt, and laughter and camaraderie – very old school.
I don’t hunt, but I understand certain things about it. My grandfather was a hunting guide, and there were a lot of years of my life when hunted meat fed me. Aside from the practical side, the sense of brotherhood that was gained in the field was sort of amazing to see – I guess you put a bunch of guys in the field with weapons and have them all watching out for each other and coming home intact is a powerful bonding thing.
And even after it is all over, there is food left in the field for the birds. As expensive a proposition as it is to plant sunflowers, it seems the birds come out ahead.