After a successful day of duck hunting in Tallahatchie County, Miss., traveling back to the clubhouse, I passed numerous fields of corn ears covering acres and acres of ground. They lay there glistening in the morning sun, bright golden-yellow, a feast for waterfowl but misfortune for the farmer who had toiled long and hard and invested his time and money.
Winds from the hurricanes had done the damage. This was a double dose of trouble, because the drought had taken a toll but nothing like the winds. It was not just the corn crop — soybeans and rice took a hit, too.
Being a city dude, it is sometimes hard to imagine the extent of the drought until one travels around and sees bayou and sloughs devoid of water, something not seen in 30 years.
It is also hard to imagine there could be any happiness in the community after seeing the conditions prevailing in Tallahatchie County, and I knew that it was not just in Tallahatchie. The damage was widespread throughout the Gulf Coast and Mid-South.
That night I ventured to the country club at Sumner, Miss., for dinner. It was my first visit and what a lovely town it is, situated on Cassidy Bayou. Christmas tree lights lined the bayou on both sides, making a wonderful holiday scene. The town itself is picturesque and truly worth a visit just to see, especially when it is lit up for the holiday season.
I met many fine citizens of the town; most were farmers. They lamented not their predicament, but were full of cheer and hope — hope for another farming season and a chance to drop some seeds in the soil. Many had parents who had gone through the Great Depression.
My Dad and Mom had both gone through it, and I had heard their stories as a child. The stories still resonate within me. They lived through — as some of your parents did — one of the most difficult times our country has ever faced. Nevertheless, they persevered, just as we will, for we are stronger people because of it. We do not wilt during difficult times. Instead, we roll up our sleeves and plow ahead.
When the people of Sumner should have been down in the dumps, they were not; they lifted my spirits.
It was then that I reflected on our servicemen and women in Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign places, spending their holiday season in some foreign land, not able to spend Christmas or the New Year with their family and friends. We send our thanks to all of you, and may the good Lord bless you and protect you.
After supper that night at the country club, thunderstorms and lightning dumped an inch of rain, hopefully, the end of the drought season and better times ahead.
A strong north wind and drizzle greeted us the following morning (a Sunday) as we awaited our guests in a flooded soybean field. It was a beautiful day to a duck hunter, but to the city folks back in the big concrete jungle, it was a miserable day, I am sure. It is all in one's perception.
And our guests did not disappoint; we finished our duck hunting early.
As the locals hunting with us headed off for church, my oldest son (Bryan) and I headed back to the clubhouse for breakfast with the other club members. I said a prayer, thanking the good Lord for our many blessings and asked Him for a better year ahead.
Yes, I have much to be thankful for — a wonderful wife of 31 years, two fine sons, a wonderful sister, and good health.
May God bless you and your family this New Year.
Wayne Capooth — outdoorsman, writer, and physician — has hunted extensively in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas for 50 years and has written four books. On the Internet, go to www.waterfowling.org.