Sunday, March 16, 2014

Where are the Woodcock?

It is that time of the year again, when the snow has retreated to hide in the deepest shadows. The ground finally feels soft and is spongy, like a mattress beneath the feet. A sweet mustiness hangs in the air and soon, we hope, will be replaced with the smells of things newly green.
I walk the dogs hoping to find woodcock. The little wanderers should be here, passing through on their migration north. There are never many on our island, but we usually find a few. Last year they arrived in mid-February, but this winter has been one of the nastiest in a long time.
It is easy to imagine the woodcock’s preposterous proboscis (love saying that) pushing down into the recently thawed ground, which feels only slightly firmer than pudding. The dogs race about on the newly bared ground, plowing through the underbrush. Robins and doves flee ahead of the youngest. None of my three girls find any game birds, but the blue sky stretches between the horizons. Life doesn’t get much better. We’ll look again tomorrow.
So home we go, where I’ll wipe down my guns that have been sitting in my safe through the winter. It’s time to start counting the days until fall.

Chara pointing a March woodcock a few years ago.

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