It’s been a long time now since I stepped onto the leaf-covered forest floor of mid-fall to hunt partridge. Years ago, after the Whitefish Moon (September-October) appeared in the sky, I would begin to salivate in anticipation of feasting once more on soup made with fresh partridge or I’d drool like a hound at the thought of placing pieces of salt pork over a grouse laying in the centre of a bean-filled cast iron crock. Baked beans and partridge flesh can’t possibly taste better than they do after they have slowly cooked together in the same pot for 6 or 7 hours. Finding them on your dinner plate as part of the main course is an experience of fine dining (trapline eating, that is) Algonquins are often blessed to have.
The fall of the year, with its chilly gusts of wind sweeping crackling leaves through gullies and ravines, is a time for older individuals such as myself to ponder matters connected to end of life duties. The careful crafting demanded in the writing of a will is a fine example. Death will eventually claim us all. Be sensible and prepare a will! To me, there is nothing more emotionally uplifting than going for a long walk on an ancient bush road in the autumn time of the year to deal with the wrongs of my past and express words of contrition to those I’ve hurt. The bug season has come and gone when October rolls around, you are free to take in the energy of the forest and feel the caress of its spirit without being tormented by all manner of bloodthirsty flies. The song birds have pretty much all flown south by mid-October, leaving only chickadees and blue jays to delight us and bring smiles to our faces. Hardy birds are called upon by the Good Spirit to offer us teachings to help guide our way. The geese as an example, who remind us of their spring teaching that proper ‘communication and leadership’ is the medicine bringing wellness again after conflict has come into our lives. The partridge too, is regarded as a healer and as a bird who carries much in the way of spiritual substance. Their teachings are about courage found in the heart of oneself, respect for the environment and truth to our duty to the future generations. The partridge is often found in an area of the forest where poplars and birch trees grow. It is a bird that seems to prefer to walk from point A to point B. And though he is a bird whose plumage is the colour of the forest floor when covered with decaying leaves, a sharp eye (like mine) can find him as he walks along. The partridge becomes one with the rusty leaves he walks upon in the fall of the year but yet, as a hunter he didn’t have much of a chance when I was looking for game.
In the past, I could bag 3 or 4, sometimes as many as 5 while walking 10 kilometres on a bush road. But alas, my hunting days are behind me. I haven’t fired a gun at a bird in over 15 years and have no wish to do so ever again. The partridge I once hunted comes to me now in my dreams to deliver messages connected to my spiritual beliefs. When he does so, I pay attention. The partridge is a spirit helper of mine. I have faith in his wise councils and can tell you that the autumn time of year is when this little bird, hardly two pounds in weight, fills me with purpose and devotion to the present and to the future. Autumn, though it is not my birth season, I love it as much as if it were.
Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind (Albert Dumont)