The hunt over, I followed the usual procedures: Fed the hawk, snacked the dogs, loaded everyone back in the Subaru, field-dressed the rabbit, offered my thanks to the powers that be, and drove home. But as I changed out of my muddy brush jeans, I noticed that my pocketknife—the one I had used to clean the rabbit—was missing.
It's not an expensive knife, in fact just a "gimme" from work, but I'm used to carrying it and it's usually the first one I reach for. So, although I hadn't planned to get out today—I've allowed Stekoa's weight to spiral out of control; he was already overweight yesterday, and then I had to reward him for catching the rabbit—I drove through the drizzle back to the field, well south of Lincoln, to find my knife.
It's odd how a spot remembered as being distinctive—a certain patch of tallgrass between plum thickets, just off the mowed verge of the access road—can expand to encompass so much more ground just a day later. Even knowing exactly where my car had been parked, and working from there, I couldn't find the precise spot where I had knelt to clean the rabbit. The gutpile had already been scavenged, by a coyote probably, and the wood-handled knife (if still there) blended in too perfectly with the brown grass and other vegetation. Lost for good, most likely.
A wasted trip? Not at all. I hadn't planned on getting out, remember, and if not for my fruitless search for the knife I wouldn't have been there when the snow geese arrived. Wave after wave, transiting overhead for a good fifteen minutes, thousands or maybe tens of thousands of geese overall. Their high-pitched barking is somewhat less musical than the sonorous honk of the Canadas, but in some ways more of a treat, since we're fortunate enough (I know not all my neighbors see it this way) to have Canada geese year-round. The arrival of the snow geese twice each year is an occasion. The pocketknife merits a disappointed shrug: easy come, easy go. Days like this, the waves of geese—unless Alzheimer's gets me—are mine forever.