Autumn in Afghanistan
Last year that this time, my wife and I had just returned from a trip to California's wine country. It was our first, but certainly not our last. California is beautiful in autumn, but different from what I am used to. In my adopted home state of Arizona, at least in Phoenix where I live, there really is no autumn. Things just get a little cooler, and anyway, cacti have no leaves to shed.
But autumn here in Afghanistan reminds me a little of autumn in New England, where I grew up. The temperatures are similar, though perhaps a bit warmer than my old home. There's even a burning smell in the air here – but not the malodorous stench of burning trash and plastic that so often permeates this place. No, it is wood burning, and I think it is from the homes in the villages surrounding the base.
Sometimes I catch a whiff and it smells just like the New England I remember from my boyhood, and how I imagine New England still smells on a crisp, cool fall afternoon. It makes me think of hunting the mountains of Vermont with friends Matt and Mike. It makes me think of our old family tradition of freezing while watching the local high school Thanksgiving Day football game, with my father and grandfather when he was still alive. It makes me think of sitting by a crackling fire reading Jeff Cooper and sipping hot tea. It makes me think of last year's bittersweet trip to Sonoma.
I often think about what I would be doing this autumn if I weren't here. Perhaps the wife and I would be making another pilgrimage to wine country, to visit some more of the vineyards we didn't have time to sample the last time. Perhaps I'd be visiting friends and relatives back in New England, playing backyard football then settling in with a cold beer to watch an NFL game with my brother-in-law and nephew and father. Or maybe I'd be deep in the Ozarks on the family hunting plot with my uncles Frank and John, trying to find the elusive ghost of the forest, the whitetail deer, with my new scout rifle in hand. Perhaps I'd just be sitting home, on the balcony of my new house, sipping wine with my wife and talking deep into the night.
But here I am, and by my own hand. My wife and daughter at home prepare to host family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday, for it is the one that revolves around fellowship and feast rather than gifts and often-strained cheer. This will be a difficult November…but it will make all the Novembers of the future that much sweeter.
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/ Veteran OEF VIII
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As a Viet Nam vet who spent Christmas and other holdiays away from home, I can certainly understand your situation. My hope is that this crazy time will be over soon and everyone can come home. Thanks for your service and all that you bring to this forum and your country.
We have an empty chair at our Thanksgiving dinner every year.
This year, it will be for my Dad, who we lost very young to cancer, just last month. But usually it is for the guys (and girls) like you, who we wish we had home, just as much.
I was lucky, in my very short Air Force career, that I got to spend my holidays state-side at least, if not a home. I think the saddest day of my mother's life was telling her that I'd had a turkey sub for thanksgiving one year away from home in the dangerous land called Los Angeles!!!
God willing, we'll resolve MOST of the issues we have that take our fathers and our children away for too-long periods in the near future.
In the mean time please, everyone here... set a place at your family's table this year, for one of the proud and strong who defend us overseas, and say a prayer that they have a safe, and quick tour. We hope to see them all home soon!
Thanks for your sacrafice Mike. We'll think of you over the holidays. I'd send you a turkey drum stick but I'm afraid it would be pretty ripe by the time it got to you or a Marine would smell it and eat it.
Thanks for what you are doing for all of us. You will be in our prayers as always.
And safer, I pray, for all of us.
Originally Posted by Mike Barham
I was born in VT and have settled in NH. The fall is definitely my favorite time of the year with the crisp clean air, the colors, and of course hunting season.
Keep your head into it and you'll be safely home to you family and many falls to come.
Thank you for your service Mike believe me the sacrifice is appreciated.
I hope your tour is over soon Mike. I bet the desert gets really cold especially at night. I hope your memories help to keep you warm until you get home. Take care and keep your head down.
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