Dead battery, now we are fully alive

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The e-collar battery was dead after one furtive bleep. We were hunting “unplugged.”
 
After a few steps, the pulse of this intimate draw suddenly filled my ears. Enough snow to muffle boot steps, but not mask the tinkle of Buddy’s collar tag as he floated nimbly among the sage. Each puff of breeze rattled the dry leaves of mountain mahogany.
 
A songbird’s call I didn’t recognize. A flockmate’s tiny wingbeats as it flushed from a nearby juniper, magnified. I could hear everything.
 
See it, too. Once ears are wary, so are the other senses. The play of light on rock and snow almost dances. A looming basalt column grows before your mind’s eye. The buckaroo’s line shack in pre-topple mode, cries out – roof boards resembling a crone’s mouth with more space than teeth.
 
That tang assaulting my nose must be a plant I don’t know … taking me back to high school with notes of an old girlfriend’s perfume. A hag of an apple tree breathed sickly sweet, all but one now brown or purple or black.
 
We flew valley quail at the base of this draw where the ancient cottonwoods stand guard. Even their flush was distilled to the essence found in dreams: quivering stalks and crackling leaves, staccato alarm call, drumroll of wings and lightning-crack gunshot.
 
The birds will be accompanied by the one good apple in a recipe I’ll devise tomorrow.
 
(Scott’s new book, What the Dogs Taught Me, is available here. Learn more about his TV show Wingshooting USA, here.)