The dog and I went to the valley as the usual haunts weren’t producing.
Sure, we were flushing plenty of birds but connecting with any of them had thus far proved an elusive feat. So we committed an age old sin and “left birds to find birds”. We abandoned the familiar in favour of other, under explored locales. It was a frivolous attempt to change our luck, much like a winger in a goal scoring drought who changes one stick for another, knowing full well that the stick has nothing to do with it.
A naive and ridiculous notion, but a clean slate nonetheless.
And if the birds didn’t show, there’d at least be a view.
But the valley placed a new hitch into the game.
In addition to being busted from the miles, scratched by the thorns, tripped by the underbrush, chilled by the wind, disorientated in the dense forest and frustrated by a dog with an inkling to go off script. I would now be subject to the usual, beautiful misery with the additional perk of doing it all while traversing up and down the valley hills.
All in search of birds who more often than not, leave me startled and humiliated as they disappear behind the trunk of an aspen tree.
And as I trudged up that first hill, the wind blowing the leaves around like big golden snowflakes, I gasped for air and it became painfully obvious that I needed more hills in my life. That a life on flatland, no matter how active, was not sufficient.
The rest of the day would reveal the remedy . . . there is nothing that makes hills easier to climb than a little extra weight in the game bag.