by Francis Marion
The Burning Platform
I remember one of the first times my dad every took me hunting. I was probably five years old and it was out to the marsh to shoot ducks. I’ll never forget it. The thing I remember the most are the smells. The minty scent of cattails, the mineral-rich mud and the sweet, sweet smell of spent shotgun shells. Dad would put down a mallard and wade out to retrieve it in his chest waders and I’d pick up the spent hulls and smell them.
To this day the smell of those shells takes me back to my time with dad in the field. Back then my old man was a bit of hard ass. But he was fair and he gave us the one thing you cannot replace with money or things, his time. My dad always had time for us and he was generous with it. We were close, and I learned early not to cross him. Not just because he wasn’t shy about the use of the rod but because I respected and loved the guy so damn much. We spent so much time working and playing together that disappointing him would leave me with a deep and lingering sense of shame.