I'm back home after a weeklong visit to the land of deer hunting and Packer loving. The things I saw in - or, rather, near - the woods opened the memory gates in ways grand and teeny tiny. One of my everyday urban activities that I brought with me was to go out running in the mornings, before the sun had risen. One time along my daily route, I saw a bald eagle perched in the highest branches of a tree right next to the prevailing county highway in my childhood neighborhood. Old Glorious swiveled her head to look down at me, passing a brief judgment before returning to all things otherwise more interesting far above the forest line. Another day, what could have only been a bat flew directly into me, striking the iPod earbud anchored in my right ear. As of now I see no need for rabies shots since not a mark was made on anything other than my previous sense of species superiority. My last morning conjured a memory like a lightning strike of the first season I was counted among the ranks of official hunterdom. I passed by the spot where I'd seen a truly majestic buck three decades ago. I told that story of the deer's nonplussed and safe run across an open field to my daughter as we drove back to the Twin Cities on our way out of the Northwoods. There were copious other lessons learned or at least hinted at during the past week - some for this book, others just for the sake of what might be humility. For example, I struggled with how to best cook a surprisingly decent hunk of fresh bear loin given to us by a family friend to add to our Thanksgiving bounty. No, it tasted nothing like chicken. The whole visit went something like that. Amidst nearly constant reminders to grasp anew things I've long since forgotten. Being reminded of that is one of the things I'm humbly thankful for this year.