I noticed a hole, the size of a basket ball, directly under a Mulberry tree. A hodgepodge of animal tracks trailed over and around it. I stepped off the path to investigate.
My knit hat got caught up on the low hanging branches. I took it off and stuffed it in my pocket. The area under the tree was littered with rabbit tracks and leftovers from breakfast. Three corn cobs void of kernels and a dusting of seed hulls from the some dried field grass.
I leaned forward in an attempt to see how deep the hole was. “Must be a rabbit hole!” I muttered, and then I took a step back.
Not quite trusting it to be a rabbit hole…
From behind the trees a Ringneck Pheasant ran out. It hunkered down into the ground. With a little wiggle, it leaped upward and flew north. I was surprised he was able to become airborne so quickly.
Uriah had been walking head of me; he came running when the bird flew across the field. He had a happy doggy smile on his face. Then he looked at me questioningly.
I shrugged! He took that as a yes and ran off across the field to find the Pheasant.
I called out. “Good luck!” And I pulled my hat back on and looked around for more rabbit holes. “Don’t worry about me! I can fight off insane rabbits!” I muttered as I poked my ski pole into the snow. I really didn’t want to step into a rabbit or muskrat hole.
Uriah kept running and didn’t turn around. He was hot on that birds trail. Uriah was good at was following a scent. His eyes may be fading, but his sense of smell and his hearing is perfect. For years, Uriah had my neighbor duped into thinking he was nearly deaf.
Uriah has always been a teenager with selective hearing, especially if he doesn’t want to follow orders.
I carefully sidestepped back into the deep snow, then into my own footprints. I continued on with my walk.
I knew Uriah wouldn’t be able to catch that Pheasant. He never caught one before!
The only dog I had that could catch a healthy Pheasant was Samson. His father was a huge Black Lab and his mother was a Chesapeake Bay retriever, hunting was in his blood. Samson would never hunt and kill for fun, he enjoyed his birds alive.
Years ago in this very spot, Samson had pranced up to me with a Pheasant in his mouth. He was so proud of himself! He had caught a bird for me! He sat down in front of me, and gently placed the bird at my feet.
That bird hadn’t moved at all. I thought it may have died of a heart attack. I leaned forward to check on it, then it woke up and flew up into my face!
I fell backwards, as I pushed the bird away from my face!
The Pheasant fell to the ground! I thought I hurt it. I didn’t!
Immediately it jumped up and raced around me!
Samson leaned down to sniff it as it circled around in front of him. It did an awkward leap of faith up into the air and squeaked away at a low clumsily angle. It barely avoided hitting the ground, and flew straight into the heavier wooded area along the south end.
Pheasants are very clumsy birds; they would rather run than fly.
In the meantime, Samson sat quietly, and watched. Sort of! He kept lifting up his front paws up one at a time, like he was marching in place. But he stayed seated.
“He was alive!” When I spoke, Samson stood up and wagged his tail. “Well, that’s a good boy!” I grabbed his big velvety face in my hands and hugged him. He wiggled and danced around.
At that moment, Uriah and Zeus ran up behind us. They wanted in on the fun. As they barreled up, the Pheasant made an odd sound, somewhere between a squeak and a cat coughing up a hair ball. It echoed off and around the trees. That sound caught the attention of all three dogs. With a backward glance at me, they ran off to find it… again!
Memories… I wonder how much of their fun is imprinted on this land.
Smiling, I called out to Uriah. I waited and listened. This moment’s Pheasant made that odd sound somewhere in the trees.
I could hear Uriah, crunching branches as he moved towards the sound. “Uriah you won’t be able to find him!”
I waited again. Not a sound.
“Alright, even if you do find him, you won’t be able to catch him!” Still silence. “I know you can hear me!”
My feet were freezing, and the cold had gone through my pant legs. Time to head home! I shuffled over the ice and came out in the yard, where I waded into the deeper snow piled along the southern line of trees.
That was when Uriah came out of the trees.
Happy! But empty handed…or empty paws! His big eyes stared at my pocket, as he waited for his biscuit.
We both stopped when the Pheasant coughed in the trees…
I was hoping to write for this Blog every day. But I may get side tracked, like I did with this post. Sorry!
Just a Note: I have to finish a synopsis I am working on, after that I need to work on my novel. I need to get it completed so I can start stacking up the rejection letters. I cleared a special place just for them!
My daughter took this picture through the kennel’s chain link fence. She told me, it was the only way she could get them to stand still.
Samson is to the left , Zeus to the right.