22 January, 2011

January Memory


It’s coming up on 10 years now since I walked in pristine snow along a tumbleweed fence line, eyes intent, fighting the cold, following the quartering, mottled shorthair pointer.

Dutch's stub tail was an erect, visible signal. Like the sweep of greenish light on ancient radar, it twitched side to side as his nose tested frigid January for scent. Once that nose caught a few molecules of pheasant, the tail went flat, parallel to his lean spine and hip. Quivering, he would roll into a slow motion point.

Nothing else mattered. Dog and shotgun, man and bird, distilled into winter strong whiskey. Chronos stood frozen until Dutch, with one molasses slow placement of his massive front paw, directed the play into furious action, a cacophony of sight and sound.

The explosion of wings, a rusty gate cackle, and those amazing colors, impossibly autumn bright against midwinter white as the cock pheasant broke from cover. Arching into the unbearable, brilliant blue sky. I pushed the old Browning ‘til barrel tip covered the raucous red wattle and yellow eye.

Trigger pulled, recoil and ear ringing as the screaming number six shot column and bird met. An errant feather or two floated in the thin cold as the bird tumbled, carcass and blood on the snow.

Dutch was dancing. Jim, his master hollered congratulations. And my heart thundered. Images like that create history. Nothing can take them, not even death.

Jim died the next November, a massive stroke. Dutch returned to Indiana with Jim's wife. I miss them all, dog and master and his wife.

There is nothing akin to walking through wind blown, January fields with a dog who loves to hunt.