Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mouthful of Feathers


I came across the wonderful blog Mouthful of Feathers yesterday and I haven't been able to stop reading it. A few examples of the superb writing that got my attention...

We hunt the fringes, the transitions, the anomalies. We gravitate to this without much conscious thought; pulled to these points at the extremity of an amorphous compass by the lodestone of experience. You could say we’re merely following the dog, but there is more to it than that. The dog is pulled to these places as the birds are pulled as we are pulled – the collision of impulse and instinct between three separate species.
* * * *
I had seen him hunt and I knew it was there and that he’d burn hot and long and get it done. And so it was and then all four dogs were out on the ground–a huge canvas of grays and browns and four white setters dancing across it like notes on sheet music. Glory.
* * * *

A decade gone by and a bird dog buried at the base of a chukar cliff in another state, a place where chukar walk across his grave and his name is carved in soft yellow sandstone above. Now his grandson at my heel, then cast out into the thick of it–the old cold lava, the junipers, the sage, the cheatgrass greening in December sunlight and a fresh-dead partridge in that same frayed-by-years bird vest. Dead and warm against the small of my back and a honed-hard, bones-and-balls white setter out in it, after them.
* * * *

I didn’t care about the bird – I just didn’t want this moment to end. I wanted us both to go on standing there, motionless, till darkness descended or the storm cut loose overhead. These are the things that will nurse me through the months of waiting. Waiting for it to all start again – these all too rare perfect moments, the many less than perfect ones, the sore feet, the hours and days with an empty game bag. All of it.
* * * *

He was three years old when I bought him and he came with that name. He never found many birds, but one day (before lunch) he killed a baby goat, got sprayed by a skunk, and ate two bobwhites that he neither pointed or retrieved. He ran off the first six times I let him out of the box. On one of those jaunts he was gone overnight. The next morning I found him snoozing in a hog trap where he had eaten and rolled in a vile mixture of rotten feed corn, molasses, and catfish guts. I eventually traded him for a cast iron smoker pit on wheels.

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