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It's been said that February is the month for lovers.

I generally think of it as the month squirrel and rabbit seasons end and time to dig out the trout fishing gear before the March 1 opener in the state’s four trout parks ... but I suppose it could be for lovers, too.

This week I’ll fulfill my Valentine obligations by taking my lovely “young” wife to a nice restaurant for supper. I’ll dress up a bit — at least not wear the red and black flannel — and lay my napkin in my lap instead of tucking it in my collar like I might do at home. I’ll likely buy her some chocolate covered strawberries, and maybe a card with a mushy message written by those talented wordsmiths at Hallmark who can turn a phrase much more eloquently than I can.

I extended an invitation for my wife to spend some extra time with me this weekend. I invited her to go squirrel hunting. She declined, mumbling something about having to stay home and do her hair ... or it might have been “just go and get out of my hair." Last Saturday I invited her to come out to the garage and spend time with me as I cleaned up the tractor. She said she’d love to but was too busy cleaning house (... which is odd because she vehemently opposes housecleaning and considers it a necessary evil).

Several years ago I invited her go trout fishing with me. She went but didn’t seem to really care for the sport. She made it clear she was okay seeing her trout for the first time filleted and fried and served on a plate with baked beans and hush puppies. She refuses to go rabbit hunting with me ... something about how since I no longer own beagles I’ll be wanting her to climb up on the brush piles and jump up and down to scare out the rabbits.

I’ve tried to convince her that sitting in a deer stand together for hours on a crisp November morning, or playing the role of beagle and jumping up and down on brush piles so your spouse can shoot the rabbit when it runs out ,are simply things people do for one another to prove their affection. I even built us a cozy elevated deer blind for two this past fall. I christened it the "Tenderloin Taj Mahal". But, alas, I spent deer season in the blind hunting alone as usual.

She seems to think that me buying her chocolate covered strawberries or a massage and pedicure can take the place of outdoor togetherness. I must admit I just don’t see it!

But since it is the month of love, I’m going to forego begging her to go squirrel hunting with me and, instead, write her a poem. Several years ago at church they had a series on relationships which culminated about Valentine’s time with a wedding vow renewal service. The men were encouraged to write a meaningful poem or letter to their women.

Now don’t get all self-righteous about my reference to women. It’s in the Bible, where it says “ ... and he called her ‘woman’”. But even though it's in the good book, my wife still gets riled when I call her "woman" ... or, at least she would if I had the nerve to try it a second time.

Like any good writer the first thing I did was look for something already written that I could adapt into my own words. Sensing the magnitude of the task before me, I went straight to the Bible. It’s there in the “Song of Solomon, Chapter 4” that a very wise man waxed poetic about the virtues of a fine woman.

I quote: “... thy hair is as a flock of goats ... thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn ... thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely, thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks ... thy neck is like a tower of David builded for an armoury ... thy two (bosoms) are like two young roes that are twins which feed among the lilies ... thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.”

There was nothing could be done but that I take up where old Solomon left off and continue with my own February letter of outdoor comparisons. Here’s what I came up with:

“How do I love thee, let me count the ways (this first part I borrowed from early 19th century English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning of the Romantic Movement).

“Your hair is soft and fluffy like the south end of a north going bunny running at full throttle to escape the snapping fangs of our old beagle “Flash” or a full load of #6 lead shot from my well-worn 12-gauge pump shotgun.

“Your eyes are bright like two green walnuts hanging from the same limb bud, yet not nearly that close together.

“Your ears are like those of the old tom turkey back over on the ridge behind the cabin. While turkeys aren’t known for their big ears, that ole’ fellar can seemingly hear me sneaking through the woods from a mile away.

“Your memory is like the mud around the pond down by the old sawmill. It’s so miry that anything that wanders by gets stuck in it forever.

“Your nose is like those too-small camo huntin’ britches you bought me last Christmas ... always up in my business (figuratively speaking, of course).

“Your neck is like a stick of hickory-smoked deer jerky ... it smells good and is fun to nibble on.

“Your arms are like a new pair of longjohns ... they really cradle me.

“Your ... uhmmm ... behind is like a gunnysack full of little animals, wiggling this way and that way when you walk.

“And despite the fact that you’re a lot like the old crow that’s always scrounging up pieces if tin foil and tinsel to line its nest ... you do tend to like the shiny things of life ... you still put up with me. And for that I’m eternally grateful!”

While you only have a couple days left to order the flowers, buy the chocolates and write your own poem, keep in mind that squirrel and rabbit seasons end the day after Valentine’s Day. And nothing says “I Love You” like a mess of pan-fried rabbit or a pot of squirrel dumplings.

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Doug Smith lives in an old house, drives an old truck, tinkers with old tractors, is married to a young woman, hunts and fishes often, and can be found on any given day wearing his Buffalo plaid flannel jacket and matching Elmer Fudd hat ( ... and dreams of the day he can convince his wife to go to deer camp with him).


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