Wednesday, March 4, 2015


The last day of my hawking season was such a bust that I won't discuss it further, but the one before that...

We went to Cottontail Lake, just Stekoa, the dogs, and me. Lake still frozen, but starting to break up. Place utterly deserted except for ourselves, and the brief visit of a game warden. We started several of the namesake critters; Stekoa put in a couple of nice wingovers, finally caught one in a fast tailchase. All to the accompaniment of The Sound.

It was present from the moment we exited the car, and continued intermittently throughout the afternoon, but periodically changing in character. At times it sounded like a living thing: a dove, a great horned owl (though we later did hear a pair of the real thing duetting), a humpback whale. At other moments it partook of inanimate objects: a piece of sheet metal, held by the edges and bounced; a breath of wind across the top of an empty Coke bottle. Full of harmonics, it emanated from seemingly nowhere and everywhere at once.

It would be tempting to describe the sound as otherworldly, but it was very much of this world, arguably more than any other sound out there—the crunch of gravel under the warden's tyres, the ticking of his engine, the swish of my beating stick through grass, the click of the dogs' tags, the jangling of Stekoa's bells, even the distress cry of the captured rabbit—for while all of us who move on the earth make sound, this came from the earth itself.

It was the sound of the breakup, the tympanic groaning and rumbling of great slabs of ice flexing and tearing and cracking and rubbing one against the other. The song of winter yielding to spring.

[Photos by kind permission of Pat Stull, there a couple of days later.]

No comments: