The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 26, 2012

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Memories with husband make way for his new adventures — with son

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The only prenuptial agreement my husband and I had was that I would take a hunter education course before tying the knot with him 13 years ago today.

I did, and I was the only female and the only person older than 14 in the class. But it legitimized me for what had been our courting ritual: watching the sun rise together at the edge of the spring turkey woods, backs against a tree, listening for the 7 a.m. train whistle that would set the toms to gobbling.

Our first married Thanksgiving, I accompanied him to the duck blind for the first time for a crisp dawn hunt that put roses in my cheeks and bacon-wrapped poppers on our supper table.

Our conversations and a shared interest during the years of Field & Stream-like moments that followed drew us closer. Since then, we have been side by side along Michigan sand dunes and through Belizean jungle, and the more domesticated Wildcat Glades and Wilderness Park.

We also had two sons who, like sponges, have soaked up every bit of outdoor wisdom and folly we could think to pass along. They’ve learned the scientific principles of ecology and conservation, as emphasized by their father, a biologist, and their mother, a naturalist. They’ve been taught respect for nature, and they’ve had safety lessons drilled into them.

Last week, the oldest — age 11 — hit a new milestone: It was his turn to take hunter education.

He’s been in the duck blind with his dad since age 3, first with a cork-strung popgun and then with a Daisy Red Rider. Now, he’s ready to put poppers on the table himself. Which, as you might have guessed, made old Mom a bit sentimental.

But nothing could have prepared me for the sight of Husband eagerly marking the dates of the course on his own calendar, or the announcement that when it was time for the course, he planned to sit through every minute with him, or the mile-wide grin he wore home when our son returned with his hunter education card and patch.

Nothing could have prepared me for the handwritten greeting card of congratulations I found in our stack of mail a few days later, written by Husband, addressed to our son and channeled officially through the U.S. Postal Service.

Nothing could have prepared me for Husband’s idea to stage a mock hunt on our two acres, in which older son gently taught younger son safety, patience and perseverance in order to bag the plastic turkey decoy set out where our prairie meets the meadow.

And nothing could have prepared me for Husband’s announcement that, just as his grandpa and grandma did for him after he passed his hunter education course some 27 years ago, he will be taking our son to John’s Sports Center for his first shotgun purchase — never mind the fact that he knew and I knew and our son knew it would be a tight squeeze on the household budget.

I’m going to advise Husband to trade in my youth model, pump action Remington for it. He has a new hunting partner now, and I am totally OK with that. New memories are about to be made.

Happy anniversary.

Follow Andra Stefanoni on Facebook at facebook.com/andrajournalist and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.

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