It’s Coming

It snuck up on me. I had shoved my hopes and impatience so far down that I actually hadn’t recognized it for what it was.

It rained into the mid-afternoon, poured, deluged really to that point where you crank the wipers so high you worry they will fly off out of control. The rain eventually let up, to the joys of those preparing for the party, and the sun shone through while everyone was busy fussing and primping. This wedding would have sun shine, big clouds, and a strong breeze keeping the humidity at bay and the water on the lake softly rolling. My suit, the corona in my hand, and distraction of good company belied the underlying importance of the earlier storm and the reprieve it brought from the typical August hot & humid.

Bleary eyed and obligingly I woke to her soft whine. The old shorthair, still holding on despite the departure of her hearing and a few teeth, needed an early morning bathroom break. Standing there in the orange wash of the garage flood light with a liver pendulum in my hand I felt it. My fresh buzz cut heightened the sensation as the cool air put a grip around the back of my neck and a near shiver ran down my spine despite the long sleeve T I wore. Still hazy, I half recognized it & half brushed it off.

The old girl must have sounded the alarm to her comrades, I returned to a bedroom very awake save my Wife. Stepping out for their morning routine, a bit earlier than normal for a post-wedding Sunday morning, I found myself thinking of standing at the tailgate feeling that same chill and knowing that 5 minutes of weaving in and out of high stem density will have me enveloped in warmth quickly. While it only dropped to 60 degrees, it felt like the mid-40s. Who knows what the weather holds for the next few weeks, but I’m taking comfort in knowing I weathered the sticky parts, most of them anyway, where a short run has the dog panting hard and my shirt drenched in sweat. The first cold front came through. And with it came the flood of excitements, anticipation, and the motivation to start the preparation. It’ll be here before we know it.

It’s coming.

Questions without Answers

Fresh off a divorce, many would think it inadvisable to date multiples at the same time, although there are some who would say that’s just the ticket, I’m sure.  I found myself in the latter camp. A blonde and a brunette, both lean and athletic, both viewing me with a healthy skepticism, not
unwarranted at the time. After some time, and lots of whittling, I found myself woven into their lives.

I am lucky. The Blonde gave in and married me. The Brunette we kept around, now sharing the bed with us as her time comes to an end, a sympathy perk for the Blonde’s first dog, the aloof liver shorthair in our trio of crop-tailed pointers.

Five years later we fear it’s coming to an end. A deteriorating body betraying a young spirit. Kisses are hard to come by, but she still greets me at the door, pushing her front paws up off the ground as much as her arthritic shoulders allow.Sleeping Sydney

The Blonde and I have hushed conversations, asking each other questions whose answers we don’t want. How long can this go on? When do you think we should call it good? She hates the car, should I find a vet that does house calls? How will we know?

It won’t be easy. A first for both of us, our first go around with this type of thing. Her first dog, and while I didn’t come along until she was, by many standards, an old lady, she’s my first dog too. The others family pets, my relationships with them unearned. It was quite the victory in defeat when the Brunette started choosing my side of the couch when given the choice between the Blonde and I.

I wasn’t into bird dogs then, in practice at least. I knew I wanted one eventually, but hadn’t taken the plunge.

Knowing what I do now, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble, and started my obsession with a fire breathing, run for days shorthair. If I’d been able to insert birds where tennis balls currently take up space in her brain I’d have spent the last 13 years burning all the boot leather and gasoline I could afford.

Instead, we pay the landlord for pills, renting more sand in her hourglass. She seems upbeat, but you can tell she isn’t completely comfortable when she’s awake. The limping has gone away and stairs are still manageable. The meds wear off in the early morning hours. We’re snapped awake to her fitful cries as she stumbles to get comfortable. It is unnerving. I feel helpless.

I’ve made some bad decisions in my life, terrible really, but have very little regret. I learned a great deal from those experiences and am very grateful for where they led me. But I regret my lack of time with Sydney.  My ‘What if?’ girl. The answer I want to a question I can’t ask.

Good and Cold

Note: I wrote this about a year ago. I’d been toying with the idea of this blog for a while, Every now and then opening Word and spilling out some thoughts. Given the wide 10 I saw on the drive in this morning and the impending snow, I thought it appropriate to share. 

I can feel it as soon as I step out the door with the dogs for their nightly routine, the chill wraps around my unguarded neck almost immediately. I can’t help but open my mouth and blow steam like a child fogging up the car window. It’s here. It’s good and cold. I’ll be sick of it in February when the seasons are closed, but they’re open now, and the best is upon us.

My drives are now, more than ever, focused around scanning the landscape and yards for cruising bucks, and the skies for flocks of ducks seeking open water. My upland hunts begin with the frustrating ritual of finding what gloves I can wear to warm my frigid digits, yet still get one in the trigger guard, only to shed them after 30 minutes of following the Dog. And She loves it. She isn’t panting after an hour and gives no thought to breaking ice on retrieves.

The full parking lots of October openings are behind us. The eagerness now worn off for many, vehicles sit idle and unwarmed in the driveway, owners mumbling over morning coffee about the weather.

This isn’t for fair weather fans. They don’t deserve it. Mallards are pooled up on any open water they can find. Coveys are merging for warmth. The antlered ones are thinking of their genetic survival instead of their surroundings, or if it’s cold enough they’re focused on filling up the tanks after burning them dry with lust.

The time has come. It’s here. The peak of the seasons. The hunting’s good, and cold. And we’ll be out enjoying every minute of it.

Perseverance.

Pushing forward, one foot in front of the other, through briars, over downed logs, and weaving through tomato stakes, the pull is easily felt. Chasing the rush like a junkie, one more point, one more thunderous flush, one more flash from the gun. Before you know it, darkness has fallen and so begins the trudge back to the truck.

It’s easy, really. We don’t even think about it. I know of no one who does the math on effort and funds exerted chasing birds. It’s not even a thought.

Lately, I find myself restless. I’m running a race and constantly wondering if the finish line is around the next corner or over the next hill. I try and focus on what’s in front of me, work no one else will do. Wondering where’s the pull? what’s pushing me forward?

I’d rather have the briars.

But it’s necessary. The bank account says so anyway. So I do it. Looking around the bend and over the hill. Fidgeting in my office chair waiting for the opportunity to get the next fix.