One thing that's always a bit of a surprise about hunting this forest is the amount of war reminders one happens on. Several times I have mentioned physical artifacts, and the immense cemeteries are terrifying. But memorials are EVERYWHERE.
Some are impressive and huge, like this one in Compiegne, reflecting ts subject:
But all aviators weren't famous, and to me the most moving are the little ones, from both German wars, usually at the site of an airplane crash. This is for an English air crew, but put up by the French:
More often they commemorate just the lone pilot. Sometimes truly in the middle of the woods, and all different- not some standard cookie cutter design. I've never seen one even slightly overgrown or in poor repair, even when there's not a path to approach it.
This is the most elaborate one I've found. The little roofed board has a picture of the flier with his friends, and some other information. His engine and wing remain from the crash.
He does, too.
It's been icy cold here for a week, those three bouquets of flowers are fresh and bear no politican's name.
I get very angry when I hear an American denigrate the efforts French people made to stop the Hun. This man wanted his next breath just as much as any paratrooper on D-1, and his family grieved for him, smashed and roasted in these lonely woods.
Merci, Lieutenant Monty. And to whoever cuts the woods back to keep your memory green.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
And with Romance still among the pack.
At one point the whipper-in was rating a hound, and said (I thought) “Back to him, Climax!”
I said, “We have a Climax, too.”
“No, that’s (some other name). We don’t have a Climax.”
“You have Darling, Romance, and Passion, but no Climax? Then you are doing it wrong.”
Clear skies with rain.
I attached myself to someone I suspected belonged among my keen hunter hall of fame:
and I wasn’t disappointed.
First on a jungly hill- it’s late November in England, and look at the foliage!
In a good spot, she came down the ravine above us, then back up, and bang.
Then up again we went, this time in exactly the right spot:
Around behind us, and bang.
A redraw up the ridge, and back she came toward the same spot!
Meanwhile, from another corner of the wood:
She didn’t look hunted hunted to me, so I didn’t holloa. And in fact she wasn’t, but they lost her, and came back to that one.
Round and round in the woods below- she came almost right upto us but turned back and eventually got away.
Then up onto the moors, where we saw very little.
The rains came down, and home.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
"Victor was introduced to the horse. It blinked its long eyelashes at him and appeared to chew soap. It looked like a horse that had had a long morning and wasn't about to take any shit from anyone. So far it had kicked three people.
‘What's it called?' he said cautiously.
‘We call it Evil-Minded Son of a Bitch,' said the groom.
‘That doesn't sound like a name.'
‘ ‘S a good name for this horse,' said the handler fervently.
Victor leaned close to the horse and whispered, ‘Look, I'm a friend, OK?'
Evil-Minded Son of a Bitch flicked a carpet-thick ear.
‘How do you ride it?' he asked the groom.
‘When you want to go forward you swear at it and hit it with a stick, and when you want to stop you swear at it and really hit it with a stick.'
‘What happens if you want it to turn?'
‘Ah, well, you're on to the Advanced Manual there."
EMSOAB should be on LOTS of stall nameplates.
Monday, November 15, 2010
So landed in London at eight, into the car and away west. I had no traffic, and so I thought why not?
I found out where my favourite English pack was meeting (Thank you, Acorn Saddlery!) and headed that way.
And sure enough, after a refreshing stop with the charming and helpful staff at the Exeter Inn...
It was that same misty valley! Only not quite so misty.
Ant ten minutes later, that mob of black assassins came swirling over the hill, spilling along a line of scent like a swarm of bees. Their cry was marvellous, ripping up the clammy afternoon like lightning.
And a clammy afternoon it was!
But the star of a good long hunt. After a few circles, she came down eventually to a deep, fast river- and crossed! Most of the field were beaten, but this valiant critter went on, up and down heavily forested combes. Hounds were right on her, it was a true test for everyone involved.
At one point she made what I thought was a fatal error, when she stopped and doubled back for a couple of rods, heading right toward onrushing doom. But no, she had just missed her turning, and scrambled up a little gap in the hedge and into the woods. Hounds blew right past, and she put an extra fifty yards between them.
Finally just as dark came on, she ran into a good sized field of (You knew it was coming) gorse- and didn't come out.
And it was decided not to go in and find her.
Well done, Miss- you earned it.
And you earned your ride home!
And so I managed to make myself useful, carrying two subscribers (and then two staff) miles back to the meet to get trailers.
And the lovely and charming one of the subscribers drives farther than I do to hunt!
Here, in the land where "The journey of a hundred miles begins with a plan to stop and spend the night half way."
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Was a tragic casualty of closed territory and no scent. First of three hunts in two days was a morning with the O. F. H. It's a plough country, and the crops are finally in. Not a leaf has fallen!
Still cubhunting, so one of the whippers-in wore a bicycle crash helmet and EOD jacket. It is dangerous work!
They tried, and struck pretty quickly. And ran almost directly into recently sown wheat fields, off limits! So stop off, come back, and draw again.
And off to the same place! I think they pressed "RESET" three times, with the same result. Aggravating day to whip in, pulling hounds off when they are running right. They give you such looks!
But the day suggested that this may be a good season this year down South.
On north to the O. H. H. A pretty blank day, couldn't hold onto much of anything. Not surprising, look at that filthy weather!
Third day was opening day at the N. H. H. At the new and gorgeous house of a very fun landowner, so plenty of party.
I learned more about Mike Huckabee than I ever expected to!
The blesser of the hounds was assigned to me to carry, and it turned out to be fun. First, instead of the usual perfunctory service, he talked a bit about St. Hubert and made an effort to remind us about how what we do is (what I would call) a bit of a sacrament or act of witness to faith.
And he turned out to be actually interested in what we were doing! He fishes and stalks, so his curiosity was from a background of knowledge. I always like to carry interested learners, pedant that I am.
He had to take it all on faith, though. There was no scent at all. One rider saw a coyote, and hounds were on the line in less than two minutes- not a peep. These hounds have been going well so far, so it was definitely the day not the dogs.
The other sort of bad day to whip in, nothing happening.
But, six days until England!
Friday, November 12, 2010
So I'm passing through the ATL, and as I wait for the boarding call I walk around the corner. There's a row of cases containing prohibited wildlife things- elephant foot stool, bear head, and so forth.
And a stuffed Brown Hyena!
What's my first, unbidden reaction?
"I'll bet they would run like crazy!"
Break time is none too soon.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Tennessee now has a rat- err, "independent"- proof Republican majority State Senate, State House, and Federal Congressional majority.
Those old Jeff Davis Gerrymanders are out the window!
As they are in the:
* Alabama House and Senate
* Indiana House
* Iowa House
* Maine House and Senate
* Michigan House
* Minnesota House and Senate
* Montana House
* New Hampshire House and Senate
* North Carolina House and Senate
* Ohio House
* Pennsylvania House
* Wisconsin Assembly and Senate
I'm sure the 9th Federal district will get special consideration, obviously impossible to get a Black candidate elected among those raaaacists!
Plus, STACEY CAMPFIELD WON, against both the Democrats AND RINOs!