Fall Is In the Air: Griswold, CT
It never happens on an exact day each year but there is a moment between seasons when summer turns the corner into fall. When I was younger I divided my days by terms and semesters. Later fiscal quarters tried to rule my time, but it is by the seasons that I have always lived my life. Blue and I were on that same schedule, especially in the fall. He was a German Wire-haired Pointer I had years ago. Sporting a natural goatee, more like a van dyke, that gave him a scholarly appearance he tried to theorize why I stacked firewood or mowed the lawn or spent so much time knee deep in a stream flipping flies. Maybe I gave him too much credit but he always knew when fall was in the air. During that time when the green of summer turns to a thousand shades of red, orange and yellow, Blue would raise his nose to the air and curl his tongue to take in the scent. I’d stop what I was doing and sit down on the porch next to him and I too would take in the smell of change. He would look into my eyes as if to say, “It’s almost time to hunt.” A few more weeks, I would answer. Confident I knew bird season was coming, he was off to catch the last bull frog of the summer or he would wait in playful ambush for the cotton tail and her kids as they feasted on clover at dusk. Down the creaking wood stairs into the basement, Blue would follow and watch me trade my fly fishing vest for my bird vest. He knew the change made it official. Fall was coming. Sticking his nose in the game pocket, he’d breathe in the scent of past hunts, soft feathers sticking to his muzzle. I often wondered if he remembered the points, the flushes, and retrieved birds. I like to think he did. When I’d pull the gun case off the nail in the wall, Blue knew the moment had come. He would shake with anticipation as I slid a pump or over and under into the case. Driving in the pickup to our favorite covert, he’d drink in the smells. The leaves are busting with color, shells are in my vest pocket and Blue is twitching with excitement. We’ve all been waiting for opening day with child-like glee. Other hunters and dogs are always friendly in the first few days of the season until the birds have been pushed around and coverts become secret spots whose locations are only shared between a hunter and his dog. The air is crisp. Blue hears the gun being loaded and looks up at me. Removing the leash, I pet him on the head. It’s time, boy. Hunt ‘em up.