We played a lot of name that tune with the radio on, but I could not get Skipper to stop singing his own version of Neil Sedaka's "Ooh, I Hear Lobster in the Rain."
We had our usual follow-up foody gathering at home, as well as the obligatory growth chart photo of the boys with this season's first bugs. It was a good start and a hopeful harbinger for good rainfall this year.
On December 21, to celebrate the Winter Solstice, which is always a particularly meaningful waypoint in the seasonal calendar for me, I took our bastard barbarian pointer Tashtego and joined Robert and Todd at 4 am on a hunt near Mount Palomar for the opening day of a week-long band tail pigeon season. The altitude and uphill hiking in the darkness was a bit of a challenge for me, but Robert and Todd are experienced outdoorsmen and they showed the way.
The weather was windy and cold, with the advanced guard of the front that now has us all in its grip. This type of pursuit involves full camo forest hunting in pines and oaks. Hunters find a hidden spot in the trees with a decent field of fire, or put a stalk on birds that had settled in among nearby branches. We were using #4 shot and full chokes.
The birds were pretty sparce where I was. I never got a shot off, but Robert filled out his two bird limit and Tash was relentless in his retrieves, recovering both birds in the steep tangle. Tash eventually decided to mostly follow Robert around instead of me.
Even though he is only eight months old, he has tremendous hunting drive and already knows how to sort out and associate himself with the most talented hunter in the group. We also hit the area around Julian for some productive glassing for deer. Both the hiking and driving featured beautiful scenery. The trip was a great way to mark the shortest day of the year before this big weather drove us all inside toward the fire, the food and the fellowship that calls us home this time of year.
As we look back on another year, it is important to remember the opportunities we have made to celebrate
and to toast our blessings
The Solstice is that darkest of days which gives us pause to roll back through the year of memories and look forward to brighter days to come.
We added a couple of new family members
and caught a glimpse of adventures to come
We savored the occasions to walk together
Neptune has issued the biggest tides of the year and Apollo has regained celestial primacy. May memory always allow me to celebrate this seasonal turning point with my favorite song from the Optimistic Land of OZ.
"We're out of the Woods,
We're out of the Dark,
We're out of the Night.
Step into the Sun,
Step into the light.
Winter's big weather is surely on the way, but we have once again rounded the horn on the battle between light and darkness.
May the advancing light of a newborn year show us a path to make more memories, a better world, and never let us forget that
THESE ARE THE DAYS