Saturday, March 31, 2012

Finding and losing the snow geese

The other day I was walking between my office and the house when I heard the geese.  At first I could hear just a few then suddenly the sky was full of them.  I stood mesmerized by the skeins of birds that stretched across the sky above Finley.  Had I been in the field I would have been in easy range for some pass shooting.  From my backyard, however, all I could do was stand and watch.  I glanced at my watch and the show lasted for just under fifteen minutes without a serious letup in the number of birds passing overhead. 
Later that day I went for a drive to try and figure out which of the large sloughs in the area the birds were using at night.  My intent was to find places where I could get under the birds for pass shooting. The geese were not where I expected and I returned home somewhat frustrated.

Yesterday, however, I did find the geese, or at least several thousand of them.  Snows and blues by the thousand with a scattering of Canada geese (including quite a few Giant Canada geese) covered the fields.  I watched them and decided my best bet would be to mark the fields they flew into and then beat them to the field the next morning.  If I did beat the geese then I could get in a few pass shots as they make their approach. The trick to being successful is to be settled in well before the birds pass overhead and that the hide be in a position where the birds have dropped to tree-top height. But, like all things in hunting, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  It didn’t.  
The geese I’d seen the day before were gone.  Easy come, easy go. The spring season is open until May and there are other flocks of snows in the surrounding area, all I need to do is find them again and plan another hunt. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Therapy Writing & Spring Goose Hunting Might Help

A NOTE: Sometimes the thing for a writer to do is simply start writing.  Choose a word, any word and from that word begin forming a sentence, than another and another.  That is this post.  This is my own therapeutic exercise.  glg
The early spring goose season opened last month and will continue into early May, and I’ve been thinking that it would be good for me to get out and spend some time hunting geese.  I am sure that by getting out of my office and into the fields my mental outlook would be improved.

Since returning from the SHOT Show I’ve had a sort of ho-hum not interested detachment from the world outside my office.  It hasn’t been the usual brutal weather of North Dakota eating at me, because until a couple of weeks ago we hadn’t had any decidedly brutal weather.  In fact, it has been the opposite, which is good because the mild winter, if it combines with a mild spring, will give the upland birds and deer an opportunity to rebound from the depredations of the past few winters.  Nope, what’s been eating at me is a book project that has vexed me for two years. 
As some of my readers know, 32 years ago, right after the Russians invaded Afghanistan, I went on assignment to Afghanistan for Soldier of Fortune magazine.  Although it took some effort I finally got inside Afghanistan along with an Englishman (Peter Jouvenal) and we were able to successfully complete a really wild assignment that actually had some far reaching impact.  I did write about “most” of the assignment and what we were able to accomplish for Soldier of Fortune and some other publications and newspapers, and in fact a grateful US government actually paid us (SOF, Peter and myself) a hefty reward for Peter and my efforts.  But, not all the story was told and a security lid was clamped down on part of the adventure, but now, after 32 years, the whole story can be told and I’ve been trying to write the book--but the story is not cooperating.  Of everything that I’ve written this is proving to be the most difficult.  I know that I will complete it.  I am confident that I will be able to get a full draft written before the end of spring.  Then, once I am sure the Pines Review work is completed and whatever writing tasks I’ve got to complete are filed with the appropriate editors--I am going to go someplace and work on the manuscript, type all the editing and corrections into it and send it off to my agent.  Hopefully, he’ll find it is in shape for publishers to read and I can retreat to the lakes around here and spend some time seriously fishing. Better yet, I will take some time and go to California and see my son and his family and spend some time fishing with my grandkids. 

It is all dependent on getting this book finished.  Fortunately, I am not working just from memory because I’ve got my journals, newspaper clippings and a lot of photographs, plus the published articles, so I’ve got most of the research material. It’s just a matter of doing it.  There is a twist, which is that whenever I would teach a writing class I would tell the students that what they needed was a bottle of glue to glue their butts to the chair so they could write.  It isn’t the glue in my case, it’s the time sitting and looking at the screen and willing myself to revisit those few weeks.  It’s just a world apart from where I now live.  It is an uncomfortable world that was dominated by lies, deceit, and pushing to the very edge of the rationale for a story.  When all was said and done I switched to outdoor writing, Peter, however, stayed on in that war-torn hell to become an internationally famous cameraman of the first order.  Peter is so revered by many correspondents that it is not uncommon to hear him referred to as the “bravest cameraman in the world.” It’s true that Peter is that, and more, and those few weeks when we shared the risk and won a bit of glory by outwitting the Russians, are times that continue to define me.  At the risk of our lives we accomplished something that no one else in the world had been able to do, and in the end we know we impacted the course of history.  There were many others who followed us, and Peter was often with them, but it was a path Peter blazed and allowed me to join him on.  It was not Charlie Wilson, the CIA, Dan Rather or anyone else who first went into that darkness, but three people, Peter Jouvenal, Edward Girardet and myself.  This book is the most stressful writing I’ve ever worked on, but I will bring it all together and the story will be told. 
My therapy session is now over.