"Now is the winter of our discontent." — From "Richard III" by William Shakespeare
To say this has been a rough winter, I guess, would be an understatement. The whole COVID-19 mess aside, along with the snow and cold, has more than a few of us thinking of moving down toward Miami Beach.
Oh, we're not going to do that, of course. A lot of us still have the rugged pioneer spirit and tell ourselves we will stay put and tough it out — cold, snow and ice be danged.
For those of us in the outdoors world, we seem to have even more of a duty to hang in there, bear up to it and not gripe about what winter usually brings us. As hunters, fishermen and those who trod the trackless wastes, we feel we must be strong in the face of the arctic blasts.
This may all be true, but it doesn't take away from the hard, cold truth: We are tired of winter just like everyone else.
A few years ago, I wrote a column along these same lines, and it centered around this topic and talking to a certain mountain cur dog I knew very well. If you will allow me, I will take a few of those lines to make my point.
"What is wrong with me?" I said to the sleepy cur dog nodding off on the couch. Spring turkey season is coming at us at light speed, and I could not seem to generate the proper level of enthusiasm.
Is it the aging process, inherent laziness, or am I just losing interest in something I have loved doing for over 40 years? What is wrong with me?
I turned away from a couple of shotguns and two turkey vests that needed my attention badly. I should be shooting the shotguns to determine patterns, putting a red dot optic on one of them, and going through the turkey vests to clean out and reorganize. (Never one of my favorite jobs.)
For some reason, I just can't seem to get it in gear. Always the procrastinator, I walk away and go grab the coffee pot. I pour another cup of old, exceptionally bad brew and go back to address the cur dog again.
"So what do you think?"
Cur dog opened one eye and gave a little half sneeze.
"Humans," she said with a toothy yawn. "Always tied up in knots about something when the answer is right in front of your nose."
I took another swig of bad coffee and gave her a look that said "Well?"
Cur dog looked down her nose at me, reminiscent of my high school algebra teacher.
"It's really very simple," she barked. "You need to hear a turkey gobble."
Now I know what some of you are thinking: "Oh no, here we go, all we are going to hear about for the next three months is turkey hunting!" Well, this may be true, but my point is there is a lot of wisdom in what that dog told me and what you need to do to get out of your self-imposed depression.
Get out of the house, break some brush, get those boots wet and muddy and make some vitamin D.
You don't have to go and hear a turkey gobble (although I highly recommend it); you can go do your own thing. Go walk that trail you have been thinking about, catch that view you like from a certain hilltop or just go explore for a day. If you are inclined to chase those slippery little trout, have at it. Need to get some firearms out and make some noise? It actually looks like we will have a couple pretty days for you to go to the range. You get the idea.
Winter doesn't last forever. I know you are aware of that, but I thought you just might need reminding. On top of everything else this year, I lost that cur dog I was talking about earlier. It was before her time, and I am still not ready to write about her and all of the adventures we had.
Maybe later. She is gone, but that doesn't make what she told me any less authentic.
If this is the winter of your discontent, go out and hear a turkey gobble.
"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.