Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dog Names from A to Z

Ok, ok, this is a cheap link to someone else's post.  But I like it and the season hasn't opened yet and I felt like posting something so indulge me. Everyone has his opinion about dog names and Bob St. Pierre of PF/QF took it a step further in a piece for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He ran the English alphabet, all 26 letters (even X, although he took the easy way out), with a dog name for each.

Some of these I love, a few are a bit over-used and a handful I can't imagine ever yelling across a field, but hey, I'm not gonna yell at your dog anyway. Dog names are a curious thing, a window into the corners of an owner's mind. They're often tied to a memory or an experience, a hero or idol, or on occasion something completely random.

A friend got a lab several years back and named it Quarter because, already having 3 kids, the dog was now a quarter of his problems. It turned out to be more like 2/3 of his problems and it now lives with another friend waaaay out in the country.

I tend to favor human names for my dogs, but only those that are a bit less common.  My first bird dog was named Curtis, hatched by a line from Fast Times at Ridgemont High of all things. Bonus points if you can remember that line without clicking the link. 

Not sure what the name of my next pup will be yet, although I do have a few contenders. In the end the dog won't mind what you call him, but the further off the beaten path you go, the more explaining you'll do. There will never be a best name for a dog, only a best name for your dog.

PS - One minor correction, Bob: it's Inigo Montoya, not Iago Montoya.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Killin' time

I drove by the sunflower field this week. It's one of those things you do when dove season isn't here but you really want it to be and there's nothing you can do to make it get here. Faster. With all the rain we've had I wasn't sure what to expect, hopes high anyway.

They were there in their fading yellow splendor, taller than me with heads the size of frisbees. The weeds weren't too bad either. Never underestimate the power of a good weed crop to hide dead birds.

This may be the most difficult time of year. I've gone through the gear, the same stuff I cleaned and organized and put away with care at the end of last season and it's all there, just like I left it. No good excuse to buy anything new. No point in doing any scouting since the birds will either be in the field or they won't. Not much to do but wait.

There's always brown liquor if it gets too bad.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lessons on living from grass and salt water

If you've never looked out across a lowcountry marsh you've missed one of nature's special works.  Aside from the complexity and diversity of the ecosystem, it's just plain beautiful, stretching for miles over salt water and grass interrupted only occasionally by a resilient evergreen.  It has the same effect, on me at least, of looking at mountain ranges or prairies.

The family unit has landed here for the week, my first stretch of more than 2 weekdays off in several years and it won't go to waste. A little fishing, exploring the creeks by kayak, some unadulterated kid fun on the beach, and overlaying it all an opportunity to place certain things back in their pockets of proper perspective.

I have a natural tendency to worry. Not the scared-to-leave-the-house kind of worry or the quivering-mess-unless-I-medicate-it kind of worry, more the tendency to see potential problems and overwork my brain about what I can do to prevent them kind of worry. In my younger days it was suppressed by things like hormones and adrenalin and brute ignorance. I didn't worry too much because there was always something else in my brain keeping it occupied. That or, as was often the case, I was too dumb to see trouble coming. The veil of this lifts with age, though, and reveals all manner of things to worry about if you're built that way.

As I've confronted it over the last few years I've realized that more often than not it boils down to a sense of control. There's this illusion that because you can control certain things, you can control everything if you work at it hard enough. That's horseshit, and I know it's horseshit, but it's a tough notion to set free. Setting it free is rather important, however, if you want to be happy.

There will always, ALWAYS, be potential catastrophe. Not impending, but potential, possible, imaginable. Your roof could spring a leak. The industry that supports your business could collapse. You could get cancer. And you can only do so much to prevent it. Beyond that line is beyond your control.

Nothing is immune from disaster, not even this marsh. Almost exactly 24 years ago a hurricane with the comical name of Hugo screamed through here leaving only the top few feet of the trees in the picture above water. Houses became swamped, soggy messes that took months to refurbish. Boats, still attached to their trailers, were found miles inland.

The marsh eventually digested the trash, absorbed the waves of sand and went on about its business of being a marsh, different in places but not measurably better or worse. If it's at all like me, it worries about the next Hugo. But it's not like me, and therein lies the lesson.