Owyhee Field Notes: Part One

While hunting last night the wind came up like a cat-of-nine-tails, raking at the grass, ripping at my vest and the damp corners of my eyes, turning the steel of my gun to ice. It was as good a place as anywhere to do my confessing, there in the spareness of tumbling and towering volcanic stone, there in my uplands cathedral.  I muttered my darkness aloud to myself and the gale ripped the words from my mouth, proving their smallness, lifting the viscous spit of my black emotions into space and dissolving the wet muck of my soul somewhere in the great distance or dashing it to smithereens against the grit of dry stone. I felt the righteous violence of the air; God’s great spirit slapping my cheek while gently taking my hand to lead me forward.

The raven came over on stiff wings, tacking hard against the wind, feeling the impossible angles of the currents with every inky feather. I raised an open hand toward him, I saw him look my way and respond to my summons.  He drew nearer.  I spoke my prayers, bright and pure, up into the winter air and watched as he grasped them in his curved claws, carried them higher into the heavens, to deliver my praise, my joy, my gratitude, my hopes to Whom they are intended.

The clouds dropped lower, encircling basalt buttresses in ether and wisp, shrinking distances and time. A skittering of snowflakes clunked across my nose and cheeks, the hard snow of the uplands where everything spends its lifetime in toil, living so hard to thrive. I stood up straighter, my burdens dissolved. We walked on.

There was a coyote in a draw, barking at the dogs like a fellow dog, teasing them, teasing them for their tameness, occasionally breaking into a yipping howl to reveal his true nature.

He was just a wild little whelp with fleas on his ears.

If you want to be free, be free.