Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Old Man and the Forest

My neighbor hunts. He hunts big game, as Ernest Hemingway did. He has other houses, one in another state, one in another country. He comes to Montana every autumn to hunt. He arrived last week, with friends and horses. Today he is gone. The signs say the hunt was a success. Ravens, loud and raucous, flock to his land to scavenge what is left of a carcass. They were not here before. Over the river, a raven will sometimes appear, flying upstream, with a hunk of red flesh in its beak. Now the coyotes have come. They howl in chorus in the night and predawn. They are not afraid.

So much for my attempt at Hemingway's writing style. Here's one wily coyote:

Tragic note: In 1961 Hemingway committed suicide with both barrels of his favorite shotgun in Ketchum, Idaho, which is about four hours south of here. He is buried in Ketchum, and his memorial there contains these fitting words, taken from a eulogy he wrote himself upon the death of a friend in 1939:

Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever.

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