I wanted to get out grouse hunting today, but that isn’t going to happen. The real world interceded, book-ending my day with obligations that made even an abbreviated hunt impossible.
Some things you can rearrange or put off. Some you can’t.
A hunter admires the tail feathers of a ruffed grouse. (File photo)
I know what I will be missing, in no particular order:
1. Time with my yellow dog.
2. The sound of wind shaking brittle leaves.
3. The trail, damp and pungent.
4. Blue sky, framed by gold leaves.
5. The feel of the old shotgun in my hands, just the way it must have felt in my dad’s hands.
6. The startling thunder of a grouse taking flight.
7. The soft flush of a woodcock rising through the popples.
8. The smell of gunpowder that hangs in an invisible cloud after a shot.
9. Conversation with a good friend.
10. The humility comes so easily after missing a shot.
11. The soft and muted colors of both grouse and woodcock.
12. The way my dog’s legs look, dark and fox-like, after she emerges from a mucky pool of water.
13. The hundreds of “little birds” — sparrows, warblers, juncos, woodpeckers, flickers, robins — that flit away as I pass.
14. The reflection of maple leaves in puddles.
15. The way I feel when I slow down and let all of the urgency of civilization fade away.
16. The taste of a McIntosh apple, which I always stop to eat while sitting on a log.
17. The way my Lab catches the chunks of the McIntosh apple I always bring along for her.
18. Having to pay attention to my compass to make sure I end up somewhere near the car after the hunt.
19. Being mildly fascinated by how much the fronds of a withering fern resemble the markings on a ruffed grouse.
20. The good tired that accrues after a long walk in the woods.