I've spent the last few days out in central Oregon, hunting chukar. You probably know by now that I enjoy this--even on days when we see a grand total of three birds, even on days when the wind rips through the canyon at 50 mph, even on days when I'm standing at the bottom of a draw looking up at the climb ahead--but I especially enjoyed this trip. It wasn't the most productive three days, or the most beautiful, and honestly the weather didn't really cooperate. But it was still a great trip, and here's why: camaraderie and timing.
I thought I loved snow. I still do, but you know, as a girl grows her heart changes. It's a friendly love that I have now for snow, a brotherly love. Because, friends, I met hoar frost.
I've found myself confined to the city the last few months--I try not to think of it as being caged, but sometimes it's the only word for it. Some days I'm caged in by all the cement, the sidewalks, the people, the cars. Some days I can't stand the way the horizon is fractured by buildings, the way the air is laced with telephone wires. I begin to get restless and anxious, I walk too fast and take the stairs two at a time, get snippy with my dog and baristas. Some days I scream in traffic and beat my hands on the steering wheel when I feel extra caged in, when I can't obey my instincts and let 'er rip. It's not fair, but it's the way it is.
When I think about bird hunting, I always think of the broad, rocky ridge lines endemic to the landscape east of the Valley. I think about my ankles aching from sidehilling, I think of the way the wind bites with icy teeth, I think about the way the sun glints turquoise off the river down below if we catch it just right. I think the word steep.
Hunting, I’ve discovered, is mostly meditation.I’m reminded of this when we head out to our spot above the upper field. When we’re walking on the road I try to roll my feet as much as I can, wearing my sister’s boots, and I try to make the layers of my body as quiet as possible, from the clothes laying on my skin, through the ripple of my muscles and down into my bones. Quietly, quietly, we make our way up to the stand of Mountain Mahogany we like to sit under.