By: Tyler Shoberg, West Fargo Pioneer
As my dog and I rounded the bend, the birch-laded woods appeared to part like intricately painted cardboard props in a Shakespearian play. A stick- and leaf-strewn path popped into view that almost looked too perfect; too serene.
Late afternoon sunlight filtered through yellow leaves to cast a daylily glow under the pockmarked canopy. The ground mirrored that which hung overhead, as I crunched through a growing carpet of golden leaf litter.
Up ahead, my German wirehaired pointer, Remy, paused his search to sniff the base of a tree. Clad in a blaze-orange skid plate to protect his susceptible underside, the gray-ticked and roan dog perked up suddenly as if remembering what he was out in the woods to do, and raced back into the brush in pursuit of our prey.
I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs to capacity with the damp, piney, saturating scent of northern Minnesota. With each breath, it was as if I was cleansing myself with a cedar-lined, wood-stoked sauna for the soul.
This was why I was here – this was what fall was all about.
During a person’s lifetime, his or her brain processes, sorts and files seemingly countless moments; from the most finite and simplistic to the long-term and ornate.
Since returning from my most recent trip to Minnesota’s ruffed grouse capitol, I’ve tried desperately to mentally replay the four-day stretch in an effort to keep each and every memory, no matter how obscure, as crisp and clear as when it was made.
But even though it’s been just a few weeks, I can feel the edges blur; the colors fade. Little things, like what I ate for breakfast or how many trails we walked one morning, already are tough to recall.
Other aspects, however, remain crystal clear.
Like the first grouse of the trip; that was a surprise – which, come to think of it, really wasn’t all that surprising.
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