with Horse and Hound

To the New Hunting Season

bijou springs

The midsummer fog slips unwillingly down the valley walls and deepens as it sinks into the valley floor, leaving fingers of lingering shreds in the recesses, and wisps on the branches of trees.

Much like its liquid counterpart, it flows around obstacles in its path, and moving objects leave a wake through the waves of opaqueness. So moves the fox in his daily routine, luxurious brush swaying back and forth in time with the lazy trot that carries him along, leaving his scent wafting backward in the liquid air.

In the kennel, the breeze carrying the ripples of scented air tickles the noses of the resting hounds, yanking them to their feet and sending aloft a chorus of protesting bays as they bounce along the kennel fence, begging to be set free to find the source of the scent-laden waft.

On the hill, the grazing horses lift their heads and gaze toward the kennel, knowing that hounds do not speak lightly but announce the presence of only important things. Seeing no immediate threat, they return to grazing but move closer together, ears flicking back and forth, seeking further information.

All will settle, knowing that today is not the day. The horses separate again, continuing to feed until the day warms and the fog lifts and the sun bids them find a shady place to while away the midday. The hounds quieten, return to their favorite places to rest, grumble at each other for lack of a better way to spend their time, and drift off to dreams and memories of their favorite chase, twitching in their urgency to be away. Time passes slowly for them.

As the sun alters its overhead path, summer drifts toward its inevitable metamorphosis, and the air begins to dry, leaving a much less obvious medium for the path taken by our fox.
So begins the annual quest to be part of the chase, part of the ballet between species, in which one seeks the other, and in the seeking choreographs a series of amazing moves which we, being only human, watch in awe. If we are lucky, our horses provide the wherewithal to observe the fascinating scenario, which, unaided by our arrogant selves, follows a pattern unfazed by eons of time and, uninterrupted by us, concludes in whatever fashion fate allows. Let the season begin!

Posted August 16, 2013

nancy mitchell  MalikNancy Mitchell, shown here with her stallion hound Malik, is honorary huntsman for the Bijou Springs Hunt (CO).  /  Tony Lane photo