At some point — I think when I was hoofing it up a large hill wearing camo and running tights — it hit me: this is exactly what I needed.
Robin Hood and I went elk hunting last week in northern New Mexico. Distracted by life, it took me a while to get excited about the hunt, but before I knew it, there we were in the wilderness. No baby or dog (they were back home with doting family), no plumbing, practically no cell reception. Just us and nature.
We hunted early, untucking ourselves from deliciously warm sleeping bags when it was still dark, drinking hasty cups of tea, and then recalibrating from hurry let’s get out there to slooooow and quiet.
No matter how many hunts you go on or how many early runs you do, there is always something special about seeing the world wake up.
We also hunted evenings, heading out in the late afternoon and getting back to camp at headlamp-thirty, either building a campfire or simply scarfing down a meal cooked over a burner, always turning in relatively early, always sleeping well.
There was a space of transition. There were grumbles and squabbles and exasperation — I can’t even remember what it was about. But by the second morning, I felt it.
That morning, the weather had looked iffy, so I started out in rain pants layered over running tights. After it was determined that the rain pants were, shall we say, rather noisy (and it warmed up), I ended up taking them off. I may have looked goofy in boots and camo and black-n-purple tights, but you know what? I was comfy and silent as a ninja, thank you very much.
Anyway, the joy: we were climbing this hill. For the moment we were more concerned with getting from point A to point B than with being quiet, so I could push my pace. Robin Hood was in his element up ahead. The air smelled like damp Ponderosa. The clouds shifted moodily over us, but it would be hours before it started raining. I felt the pumping-blood working-lung satisfaction of exerting myself. I felt strong and free and good. I was dusting off an almost-forgotten part of myself. I loved it. I got to the top of that hill and kissed my husband.
We didn’t get an elk. But we talked and joked and held hands, and felt a renewal that only days of fresh air can bring.
I’d call that a successful hunt.