Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unexpected Surprises

To me unexpected surprises are God’s little gifts to the world. You never know when they are coming and nine times out of ten you don’t realize they have occurred until well after the fact.

Just when I thought we were taking a break for a long Labor Day weekend at home, Tyson came home from work the Wednesday before and announced an ‘unexpected surprise.’ We were headed to West Point, Mississippi for the annual Dove Hunt.

This is a trip that I have missed every year due to one work event or another. So naturally I was excited to see what everyone has been talking about all these years.

I wasn’t all that surprised given that it’s his favorite trip of the year but since we had agreed that we were taking a ‘timeout’ from all normal activities until after the wedding I sort of put it out of my mind.

At first I was pretty hesitant about leaving again for four straight days. But once we crossed the Louisiana-Mississippi state line and I began to see those beautiful rolling green hills and big country barns my excitement only grew with each passing mile.

The Hunt: An ALL men’s hunt that lasts for 3-4 days with 2 hunts per day at dawn and dusk. This particular group of men comes from all over Mississippi and Louisiana to West Point for Labor Day. It’s a select bunch from all different backgrounds. They don’t just let anyone come and hunt. They have ‘spots’ which are highly coveted and hardly ever given up.

In the years passed they only allowed one other woman to participate, Farmer Brad’s wife Molly. She would help coordinate meals and grocery store runs. Molly and I had a great time! We went to the Prairie Arts Festival, also another Labor Day favorite in West Point. We talked for hours on the front porch of the Camp House while listening to the men out in the fields carrying on like little boys (so adorable).

I decided to take control of the final meal after the last hunt. Molly and I went to the store and managed to score the last packages of Boudin and Cajun Sausage. We picked up all the items necessary to ‘properly’ prepare the Dove as well.

The picture above is from our final dinner, after the final hunt. I debated for weeks about which picture to post, this one of the grill or the one of all the guys sitting around on the front porch. Obviously, I choose the grill and yes I am giggling right now…

The Dove came straight off the field and went into a secret marinade (sorry not divulging the recipe this year), stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos’ and wrapped in bacon- the ONLY way to enjoy these wonder little creatures!

I have tried to think about all of the unexpected surprises of this weekend but I am not sure I can wrap my head around all of them. Even after thinking about it for the last few months, this was truly a special experience.

Some of my fondest unexpected surprises are:
-A newfound friendship with someone who is so much like me that it’s scary (Thanks Molly I had a blast!)
-The Prairie Arts Festival – such a great Southern experience!
-A house party into the early hours of the morning with a charcoal grill being lit every other hour!
-Four straight days and an entire house filled with people.
-Hanging out on the farm and of course the GORGEOUS Camp House!
-dinner at West Point's famous restaurant 'Anthony's Market' with the whole gang
-Listening to the frogs at night
-Snuggling with the little ones when they finally got sleepy- they hunted too!

And of course cooking for an entire day which included Okra Stew, Boudin, Cajun Sausage, Grilled Asparagus, Fresh Tomatoes, Garlic Butter Grilled Chicken, Truffle Burgers, and Dove stuffed and wrapped in bacon…now I can definitely understand why Tyson waits all year for this cherished weekend! These are one helluva unexpected surprise! There is always a fight over who gets that last one...

Molly and I are already planning the menu for next year…stay tuned.

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