Historical setting: 589 C.E. when Brittany was forest
Today we’re hunting partridge for food and feathers. Heinrique studies the mud patches where the meadow wears thin and he studies the earth along the barren mud banks of the creek looking for partridge tracks. Auldouff plunders through the brush hoping to stir them from sheltering places close to the ground.
Heinrique speaks, “This whole bevy of partridge must be onto us by now. They’ve moved on or else they’re hiding too well. They just don’t forget these fellows with arrows coming often, picking them off one at a time.”
We walk on following the creek into a piney wood as the earth slopes more and more from meadow toward mountain. Auldouff blunders on ahead. Heinrique is on his slow search for detail and I am a distance behind noticing the beauty of this nature. It seems winter hardened and stripped bare anything that once lived to set this season’s empty silence. Then I notice a quivering stalk in the grasses by a fallen log, and on closer look I’m staring straight at a large partridge staring right back at me too close to me for it to fly, trapped by his own shelter, completely depending on my human numbness, possibly blinded by its rote stillness. But my one arrow makes us a feast. As I am gathering the bird Auldouff has just stirred a flapping bew ahead of us, and in an instant several partridges are perching on far distant branches. By the time I’ve caught up with the brothers they’ve wasted several arrows missing the birds.
Their pattern of hunt, now that we have one bird, is to set their base camp here before we begin the climb into the mountains where they will find the larger prey they seek, the deer and the boar. So here we spend a few days hunting up a few more birds, preparing arrows, and making a sledge to haul some yet unseen great kill back to the tribe and to lighten our travel of these buckskins and fleece we’ve brought for shelter.
My prayer at this fireside is silent. Dear God, my prayer is for the spirit of that other life that stood perfectly still and looked me in the eye, that I made into food with my arrow. Let me remember the life gift as we are all living with shared spirit. Thank you God, Christ, Spirit, whatever names we make to sort it all out. Amen.
(Continues Tuesday, February 22, 2022)