Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Fake Phez Phest

 This past weekend was the beginning of pheasant season in Western Kansas. It used to be our favorite family celebration. 

It began innocently enough at Jerry Hinger's house in Codell, Kansas with a group of relations and the usual assortment of hunting dogs. It moved to our place in Hoxie, Kansas to relieve Kay Hinger from the ordeal of providing bread and board to an ever increasing bunch of men. 

I can't remember when or how music became part of the mix. But it did. Music and women and children. We're talking serious bluegrass enthusiasts here. I certainly do remember when the New Old-timers started coming. They were a professional band. Joe Newman played the banjo, his wife, Kenda, manhandled an upright bass, and the incomparable J.F. Stover played the guitar. In a couple of years, Todd Toman and his wife, Mary, were added to the mix. 

Other people began bringing instruments. Pheasants flocked to the Hinger's little homestead because they knew they were safe. Collectively, this was the worst group of shooters that invaded Sheridan County that weekend. 

Our adult children and our grandchildren looked forward to it and told their friends about it. Soon friends and their relations made Phez Phest a priority. Ian Alexander and his boys came from Michigan. There was always a group from Missouri. There were Californians, and Coloradoans. I wish I had kept a list. 

This was a kind group. Little boy fiddlers got to squeak out "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," to standing ovations. Vic Mowry was delighted to bring his fiddle because my husband knew the words to every dance song he wanted to play. Country Western competed with bluegrass all weekend long. Hingers have a particularly vicious version of pitch. That's a card game for those who don't know. Learning to play Hinger pitch was a requirement. 

It was a joyful weekend for the children. We have pictures and videos of kids rolling in leaves. I recalled the year they filled our garage with tumbleweeds and tried to sell them to the adults. 

After my husband died and I moved from Hoxie to Colorado, we tried renting another house for a weekend. We called it Fake Phez Phest. And it was just that. Times had changed. There were other deaths, and divorces and health issues for some. 

It didn't work. The world had moved on. We were all miserable. The time for Phez Phest had passed. 

Those of us who have joyful memories of their childhood and positive family experiences are very fortunate. I'm very grateful that I'm among that number. 

The trick is to be aware of how precious family events are when they are happening.

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