Old Times

A tribute to my bouncer, or as we usually said “doorman” days in Cambridge and Somerville, and yes it was that bad . I was known as “the mean little one who looks like Jim Morrison”. I was not “mean”; it is just that at 5′ 8″ I could not LOOM like my Alberta- born Viking friend John Brakke.)

Curiously I met two present friends there, meeting them for the first time in those very different circumstances: Laramie professor Carlos Martinez del Rio (didn’t let him in: looked to young for his Mexican I D, blood on shirt, English accent and Mexican I D. “Wewere just at the Mosh pit in the Rat!” he protests today; and sheep rancher Pieter Ditmars

Goshawk

This will be one illo by Eldridge Hardie from a new collection of the works of North Dakota poet and hunter Tim Murphy. He and El gave it to me! I have been a fan of Eldridge’s work for at least as long as the old Gray’s that we both worked at existed. I brought a copy of the late Datus Proper’s Pheasants of the Mind, among my favorites of both their works, and was pleased to hear, in our too- short Denver visit, that he had also hunted with Datus. They met in Arizona for quail; Datus and I used to out of Bozeman for quick day trips after Gray partridge…

Wall Street Journal!

The fine writer Jonathan Rosen (The Life of the Skies) did me the great favor of reviewing Hounds of Heaven for the WSJ Review Supplement’s Christmas Books issue. What is more, he showed that he understood the theme of all of my work. If you don’t subscribe, the review is behind a paywall, but here is a version cut from my sister Karen’s Facebook page.

Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Rosen picked my brothers book as a Christmas gift!
— “Years ago I stumbled on a book by Stephen Bodio called “A Rage for Falcons: An Alliance Between Man and Bird.” Like the kestrel on the first page that “turned on his back in terror and ‘footed’ me with a handful of hot needles,” the author sent an electric charge through every sentence. In “The Hounds of Heaven” (Skyhorse, 180 pages, $22.99) he combines his love of falconry with his passion for the Asian sight hound, an ancient breed from Central Asia, where men have hunted with falcons and dogs for thousands of years. A writer who gives ideas as well as dogs their warm-blooded due, Mr. Bodio explores one of his great themes: the way we evolved alongside animal companions, a savage symbiosis that helped make us human.”
– Wall Street Journal Nov 19

He also reviewed my friend Julie Zickefoose’s wonderful book on nestling birds,Baby Birds and showed that he understood it too. Put that on your Christmas list as well.

Party!

After a slightly exhausting week, the much – postponed party finally straggled in to Reid and Connie’s country manse in Parker CO  on Saturday. Not every one could make it (Smokey Paul and Lynne met us at a Santa Fe highway exit to hand over a pistol for Carlos —  we still live in a free country where a poet can hand a handgun to a writer to pass to an ornithologist, and pass it through three states, all legally!)

I am not sure what the “Theme” of the party might have been– probably NOT blogging, though it had brought some of us together. But only Reid, Arthur, and me met primarily that way. Andy Wilson has known Libby from Outward Bound days, 40 years and more. Many of the others were members of what Carlos  and the (absent ) Gerry Cox facetiously call the  “Sewing Circle”, a bunch of writers, academics and artists fascinated with fine guns. Guy Boyd, who is holding the iconic Purdey, came down from Fort Collins; our first contact was through birds I think, as he flies a pursuit Gyr named Darwin, but I have also worked editing his yet unsold thriller ms. Chas Clifton blogs at Nature Blog, but we have known each other forever; he went to Reed College with Tom McIntyre, is a retired professor of English literature and comparative religion,  knew “Seasonal” writer Ed Engle (who once remarked after a hike in the San Mateos that we had seen a redtail catch a squirrel, but “if it had been twenty yeas ago, we might have seen Mescalito!”, and, if memory serves me right, first read me in the rather odd venue of Chronicles, in a nature- themed issue put together by Chilton Williamson and his legendary damned Patagonian conures!

Themes were guns, books, ideas, and food, plus a standing desk of splendid oak for me (thanks to Laramie based novelist Brad Watson); horses (Akhal Tekes) and dogs (Aussies- ours had stayed home) and a little mostly Chihuahua named Rainbow. And GRILLED MEAT– thanks especially to Carlos, and to Arthur for bringing lovely chile- flavored booze for a marinade.

And of course the Purdey, which is exquisite, not just the finest for its price but one of the finest hammer Purdeys I have ever handled. But, contrary to what everyone seems to think, despite my trade goods and its relatively good price, I do NOT have the full price yet. Perhaps, as the Nature Conservancy’s Matt Miller suggests, I should swallow my pride, and try a little crowdfunding– it looks like now or never… ideas, please!

This set all by Andy W:

Chas sights Broomie with Steve & Carlos in enthusiastic discussion behind

The younger set–Arthur and gunsmith Adam (not in this set, brother Oliver)

Novelist Brad Watson (check his new book on Amazon), Carlos, Steve

Reid with MEAT

We do love our food– and guns …

Another Quote

Courtesy of Carlos, and probably from his library which makes my good one look rather anemic..

[He was] “… subject to a kind of disease, which at that time they called lack of money.”

(Rabelais, chapter 16 of Gargantua).

 Carlos examining interesting books from the family library in his own collection in Laramie; I am holding a first Spanish edition of Linnaeus’s  Systema Naturae;  in the other, he holds a less important book…

“A Hundred Sorrows”

Old Year news, which I didn’t want to make anyone sad about during the Holidays. In the kind of  coincidence weirdly common in falconry– see the quote referenced above and quoted in full below– good friends (and good falconers) lost both my birds in one December week. Rio/ Guero had been brought to the point of taking quarry by Tavo Cruz when he went into one of those sudden twelve – hour downward  spirals that used to make an old eagler I know mutter that “Gyrs have AIDS”. It IS better these days, but Gyrs, in addition to being almost impossible for me to follow these days except under the best conditions, are still more delicate and “immunologically innocent” than many slighter species.

Meanwhile, Bodie had lost his good Saker in as strange a set of circumstances as I have ever known; to a coyote in his library at night, with a locked door between it and the young deerhounds, who would have settled its hash. The coyote locked itself in, and Bodie shot it with his 1911; his suburban neighbors in Corrales tried to get him in trouble for shooting it (in his house, mind you), because they feed coyotes. That this may well end up with the coyotes eating their toddlers apparently hasn’t occurred to these idiots. Read Valerius Geist.

Anyway, I lent him Chicken and she had a good season, flying and killing even large ducks on a nearby golf course pond, until one day she missed one, and not being the most lofty of falcons (that heavy Shahin wingloading that gives speed but not lift) landed on an electric transformer and fell to the ground, instantly burnt to death. This was a week after losing Rio. Sadly, not a rare fate for a bird; there is one in my alley that takes a regular toll of feral pigeons.

Both birds were given good lives, good flying and kills, and I thank my friends. But now I must devise a way of falconry that works for me with my present level of physical competence (and that uses ones I can fly off or out of vehicles if necessary). I think it will be small Accips and male Harrises, though some micro- falcons may work too.

The only falconry that is unacceptable is NO falconry. But Gace de la Vigne knew:

De chiens, d’oyseaux, d’armes, d’amours,

Pour une joye, cent doulours.”

Seasons 2: Big game & harvest

With a little help from my friends– Carlos, Brad, Jim. I am not doing big game these days except in a group, hard in NM if you don’t pay top dollar. Which is why I may move my meat hunts north if health permits…

All animals here provided feasts including long- gone lion– see Don Thomas and/ or David Quammen.

And after thought I added locally grown free range pigs, Mark’s, still on the hoof, out in front, and a suckling from a previous Thanksgiving. Big game season for me is FOOD first…

                                                            

Jack calls the last “Contemporary Norman Rockwell”.