From The Earth by Derek Towles
By: Derek Towles
Sirens, all I hear are sirens. They scream and call out at all times, no matter if it’s in my head, or when they are all around me as we sojourn down the road together in the fire truck. This is all I hear as I go about my normal day at work. Eggs frying in the morning, sirens, mop buckets being filled, sirens, grocery store checkout lines, sirens, a running treadmill, sirens, sirens, sirens….quiet, sirens. But then, it’s still, there’s only a slight rustle of leaves as the morning breeze passes by like a shooting star and then I hear it, the far off gobble of a turkey on this cool, spring dawn. My heart begins to pound and warm blood fills my veins. This is what I live for.
I respond with a few hen yelp calls on my crystal pot call. I like the crystal call because I feel like the sound cuts the air better than a slate or a metal call. I listen for a response, and then I hear it, still far off, but he’s responding well. Making sure my face is covered well with my camo face net, I assess the area around me and ensure nothing will give away my location as I melt further into the dirt and the base of the oak tree on which I am propped up against. He lets off another gobble, this time closer. I place a diaphragm call in my mouth now, this way I will be able to call the turkey while keeping my hands on my shotgun which is resting on my bent knee of my left leg. Giving off a few more calls on the diaphragm, I wait, and then I see him. The morning sun is just high enough to aluminate his blue head and moisture glistens from his black feathers. It’s a Jake, a young male turkey, he’s a legal bird to harvest, and it's well beyond legal shooting light.
A loud blast, and now I’m at home. Three months have passed since that April morning when I was fortunate enough to harvest that beautiful creature on that gorgeous spring morning. Summer is in full effect now, and in the morning I will be taking the boat out with a friend to pursue largemouth bass, but honestly, we will take whatever bites. The sound of oil frying in the cast iron temporarily replaces the sirens in my head. Then, the turkey makes his last sound, as his flesh cooks in the oil, the last bit of this bird is about to be consumed, and used by my body as nourishment for the day ahead of us tomorrow. From the Earth he came, and to the Earth he will return.
More sirens throughout the night on replay in my mind and then my alarm telling me it’s time to go fishing. We enjoy a relaxing day on the water full of good laughs, good stories, and hopes and dreams for the future. Coming home with a couple fish for the freezer is just a bonus, and today, we were lucky. We drink away the day's sunburn that night and return back to our normal lives the next day. Sirens, more sirens. But now there’s a chill in the air as fall approaches. Death slowly begins to creep in as trees shed their leaves and the annoying summer bugs fade away. As November begins, new life is moving in. High above me I hear the sounds of Sandhill Cranes, as they make their annual migration South to escape the bone chilling North that they call home. It seems like the more of them I see is directly related to summer’s fish in the freezing being consumed. High up there in the sky, they don’t seem to be part of this planet anymore, but they will return. Their calls remind me so much of the sirens.
Stillness, all is quiet, my breath freezing in the air as I exhale. A twitching of her ear gives away her location as I spot a doe moving through the woods. She’s a mature doe who is well beyond her years of mothering. All she has left to do in this life is to pass on to the next one. I watch her for a while as she moves freely through the forest. The time is approaching when I must make my decision. She stops for a moment and observes her surroundings. Then, both she and I realize that the time has come. I apologize for what I am about to do and take a deep breath. The next time I am talking to her, it is with my hand on her head and I am thanking her, even though I feel some pain and sorrow in my heart, I knew it had to be done. She also came from the Earth. She lived a good life and raised many deer, and now she will return to the place she came from. The same place as the turkey came from, and the same place as the fish.
She has passed to the next life but she is still providing, just like she did for all the deer she raised in her years. Now, she is providing for me and my family. She is treated with respect and she is honored at each meal as winter's cold grip gets stronger and stronger. Sirens, they continue. They will always be there, my only relief is nature. Now winter is fully upon us and escape for me and others may seem impossible, but it’s not. Darkness may come early as the sun sets beyond the horizon, but it will rise again, and when it does, we’ll be out there admiring the beautiful picture that is painted in the red and purple clouds, and from those clouds, we begin to see ducks.
“Keep your head down! They are circling in behind us!” I hear from my right. I let off a few soft feed chuckles from my duck call as I hear their feathers cutting the wind like a knife. The water was frozen solid this morning, but under the cover of darkness; we broke it open and allowed a place for the ducks and geese to land. “Now!” I call out as we jump out from the reeds and tall grass. The volley is heard through the whole marsh, just as the sirens are heard cutting through the city streets. “What a day” we say to each other and its only 9am as we wade out with a strap full of ducks. Back to the sirens I go.
Just as the turkey, the fish and the deer, these ducks came from the Earth. They will be consumed as winter drags on. Some will be put in gumbo, others will be smoked with maple syrup and some will be baked, but they will all be used and then returned to the Earth. As for the sirens, they will go on, as will I, but then winter will break and the sun will bring life to the next spring. From dawn's first light, you will hear it, the gobble of the turkey. The process will continue on just like it has since the beginning of time, and it will happen like this far after I too return to the Earth from which I came.