Where I live…

My home is just outside of Boston. I work in the city, take the train every day, escape all of it when I can. It’s a great life. But it’s not where I live.

Chet Reneson - Orchard Hill
Chet Reneson - Orchard Hill

I live in Maine at the end of October, as fall’s great show winds down. The maple trees are bare, but some stubborn poplars are still holding onto clusters of their golden leaves. I have a week of hunting ahead of me. Puck’s in the truck, along with my 110-year old L.C. Smith and enough Pop Tarts for a week.

At night, there’s a book in my hand, a rocks glass of bourbon beside me. I make room on my lap for Puck’s head. The next morning there’s frost on my truck’s windshield and no one in my covert when we pull up.

I strap a bell onto Puck and send her off into the woods. She heads down a logging trail grown over with stubbly grass and then casts to the right. I follow. Pretty soon the clang of Puck’s bell is missing and I notice she has stopped. I rush through the woods, left arm up, while branches tug at my frayed old pants. I spot her on point, tail long and straight like than the barrels on my double. The grouse goes up to my left, my Smith touches my shoulder–bang…bang. “Dead bird,” I holler and Puck’s off where the grouse fell. I break the Smith and the lavender shells kick into my hand as smoke rises from the chambers.

Puck fetches to hand. I scratch her ear. “Good girl,” but she has tasted blood now and she’s anxious to move on. With a tap to the head, I send her off again. Her bell clanks as she rushes ahead. I follow, and for a moment some grinding gears at the very center of me finally slip into place and catch. The dissonance I live with most of the year disappears and the force that drives me north every October goes quiet and smooth.

Grouse & L.C. Smith
Grouse & L.C. Smith

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5 thoughts on “Where I live…

  1. Good post. Liked the Faulkner allusion. As his biggest rival would have said, “all the country is the same country and all the hunters the same people”. 😎 Sorry about showing off with litarary competence, and good hunting in the coming season!

  2. Really nice reminder of things to come, Gregg. I just wish I had not read it first thing Monday morning in the office – my concentration is gone! Bring on the fall . . . .

  3. Seems like you only live for a couple of short weeks in October. There is no life in and around Boston for you, why do you stay? Pretty sad, prostituting ones self for 11 months of the year to live for 1 month. Good story though.

  4. Pete-

    I hear you, and I’ve kicked around the idea of leaving. But hunting season is just 4 weeks out of the year. What do you do for the other 48?

    I have to make a living. Dogs and doubles ain’t cheap!


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