Here’s to the first grouse of the year. Flown from the dried leaves and thick rhododendron, driven by the crunch under a good dog’s feet, a missile launched from a hidden Cold War silo. He is thunder in flight, grace in repose, and warmer than old whiskey in memory.
So we drink to the birds, sure, but we drink to the dogs, the friends, and the north wind’s chill. We drink to the magnolia seed pods found where they don’t belong, to last week’s desperate rain, and to forest floors and crops full of acorns the size of ripe cherries. Nature finds a way, they say, and they’re right.
So here’s to the first bird, and here’s to the good fortune that we may find another. And when I do, may the dog be steady and my shot be true. And if not, that’s alright. There are worse things to do than walk around in the woods with a dog.