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Come Out in the Wash

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Cayla Bendel

Currently, my life is a little messy, literally and figuratively. But at this point I’ve chosen to laugh about it because I have no more room for stress. My husband has been working out of town Monday-Friday for the better part of six months and will be for the foreseeable future. This arrangement takes its toll in small ways, like when I need help opening a jar of homemade pickles, and sometimes in more complicated ways, like when the washing machine breaks.

Coworkers helping with the washer

Concerning the latter: I order the new part for the machine and pay extra to make certain it’s here for the weekend so Scott can install the new part while I’m elk hunting in Colorado.

Of course, the part arrives on Monday, he’s gone back to work, and I return to a still-broken washer, and almost two-weeks-worth of dirty work clothes, hunting clothes, guest sheets and towels from his dad visiting to duck hunt while I was away.

The Colorado forest service roads also did a number on our pickup, and I have hubby schedule an appointment for that Monday because I’m just guessing the entire vehicle shouldn’t shake when you go over 50 mph?

My mom and my brother arrive in a day, mom to visit, cook delicious food, and help with some things around the house (more than she likely bargained for), and my brother to bow hunt for mule deer in the badlands. And my dad arrives the following weekend to hunt.

Cayla and friends hunting

Well, it’s BYOS (bring your own sheets) folks because we have no clean ones.

Friday night my husband returns, and my mom is excited to make us zucchini pizza hotdish and homemade apple pie when the oven fails to preheat, and the element begins to spark. Perfect. The washing machine doesn’t work, the oven took a dive and our pickup is questionable.

All of this, including a house that in general could use a little TLC. It’s messier than I usually keep it, the garden froze while I was in Colorado, the fishing stuff hasn’t been put away and assorted bags of duck decoys line the garage from last weekend. But these days, in the prime of hunting season, with just me at home, it seems time is a fleeting concept.

But you know what? We pack up Friday night to head west Saturday despite the everyday hiccups of life because we wait all year for this. It’s okay that my life is a little messy because (almost) all my favorite people have been in and out, or are headed this way soon, doing what we love to do together.

Brother with harvested mule deer buck

So, we cook caribou meat in white wine on the stovetop instead of hotdish in the oven, I spend my time making sure I pack my fall turkey tag, rangefinder, camp stove, game bags and upland vest in preparation for whatever the weekend throws at us instead of worrying about what will be waiting when I get home.

I find myself instead reveling in how lucky I am to have the people I do in my life. People who show up and will do anything for me. Friends who welcome the idea of a crazy DIY Colorado elk hunt with open arms; coworkers who leave work to help me tip the washing machine on its side; a brother who doesn’t question waking up at 3 a.m. to drive to central North Dakota to get here in time for the evening hunt; parents who volunteer to come visit and cook and watch Finley while I spend some quality time in the badlands; and a husband who stops at Starbucks first because he knows I need it. People to share laughs and warm wild game meals with and people who could care less that my life and house are temporarily messy.

Mom's famous halloween cookie

I find myself soaking in the insanity because, this is it. These are the days we dream about all year and everything else can just wait because I have bigger priorities.

I look through my binoculars, waiting for the sun to rise enough behind the veil of heavy clouds and fog to illuminate any white muley butts – my husband to my left, my brother to my right – while nursing still-sore legs from five days in the Rocky Mountains, and yesterday’s hike in and out of where we’re at now. I have one of mom’s famous Halloween sugar cookies stowed away in my pack and my mind is far from broken appliances.

Meh, it will all come out in the wash.

Hunters in the badlands
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