16 November 2008

'Over Which Flies Dinner'

The problem with reading as much as I do is that I often can remember a particularly interesting author without a specific quote, or an interesting quote without the author, or an inkling of both. As a consequence I spend a lot of my chasing my tail when I want to reference said quote or author. This was the case today after my walk around the lake this morning.

Today has been cooling and cold, with gusty winds and a lot of clouds. Everything has that unique shade of silvery-gray that occurs on wintry days. The lake surface had wavelets all over it from the wind. The resident geese, along with their migratory cousins (or siblings or whatever they are), were out in force. There were quite a few bobbing around in the lake, with the occasional group coming in for a landing honking loudly all the time. Watching them swirl around in the sky and swimming in the water made me think of hunting. Hunting isn’t allowed at the lake of course, it is a public park, but still they looked like some mighty fine eating. I don’t hunt, but I know someone who does. Last year, I cadged a pair of the ducks he bagged over on the Eastern Shore of our fair state (motto: The Land of Pleasant Living) and made a mighty fine duck and ‘shroom gumbo out of them. Here’s hoping I can get some more this season!

Pondering hunting lead me to thinking about the terrain. The lake I frequent is in a suburban area, and it is developed with quite a few amenities. Picnic pavilions, playgrounds, ball fields, a boat ramp, concessions and a rent-a-boat dock, to name some. It is most definitely NOT an outlying cornfield or a lonely marsh somewhere. However, there are spots on the trail around it where it does feel far removed from the houses and strip malls and traffic. There are places where you can peer through the leaves and watch a heron stalking fish in the shallows. Or see a turtle poking its snout above the surface. Yesterday, I say two deer trotting along the tree line at the bottom of the hill at the east end of the lake. They were a doe and a buck. It was a young buck with a short pair of antlers sprouting from his head. Almost, but not quite, it can feel like being close to wilderness. So with that in mind I was watching the geese fly in overhead, wondering what it be like to hunt them (for eating, not for sport) when one of those half-remembered quotes came to mind. This is all I can recall, and it probably isn’t correct:

“Wilderness is a cold, damp place
Over which flies dinner”

George Bernard Shaw? Oscar Wilde? I think it was one of those two. But maybe not. I may have really mangled the quote. The memory of it made me laugh nonetheless, and after watching a flight of geese and a few ducks wing their way over my head and down onto the lake, I was getting hungry. Time to eat! So what did I do? The mighty hunter trekked over the cold, damp path on the hill, jumped into the car and went home. To scarf down a handful of Doritos. I’m pretty sure Doritos don’t fly, but if they did, I would be one helluva hunter.

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