I live in a small town that lies at the heart of land Idaho calls Thousand Springs. There are truly thousands of natural springs that feed the creeks and river here. This abundance of waterways provides incredible habitat for all types of birds and fish. The water maintains an approximate temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows a year round food supply to grow for migratory and waterfowl birds.
As I walk around the 248 acre parcel of land that was once a working ranch, but is now owned by the state, I am overwhelmed with wondering what it would be like to be an animal with this much space. Idaho is so open. The fields so large. The space between you and your neighbor so great. The sky so billowing and vast. You can not help but feel free. Free and light, wanting to grab on to the talons of the Rough Legged Hawk that you just saw out of the corner of your eye. He circles wide and swoops so silently, so gracefully.
My two dogs have disappeared into the reeds. I hear our duck dog jump into the spring creek at the edge of the reeds and cat-tails. This disturbance sends the afternoon waterfowl into flight. I love the way ducks and geese sound in flight. That give and take of energy and ease. The geese honk at one another, a reassurance that their partner has left safely. I stand and watch them travel further downstream. These birds are lucky to have such a home, I think to myself.
Our upland hunting dog comes barreling around the corner, I instinctively buckle my knees in anticipation of a torn ACL. I call him the rocket. His energy is only exceeded by his drive to hunt. This dog lives to find birds. It is one of the main reasons we moved down here, to Idaho, this winter. If you have never seen a hunting dog work, you are missing out on a true marvel. They are loyal and beautiful creatures.
I keep walking down the path wedged between the creek and the hay fields, lost in the rhythm of boot steps. I decide I would like to be an owl. I pass by two workers covering summer hay and they tell me there is a resident barn owl that lives in one of the old ranch barns. I like the idea of keeping a watchful eye during the day. To emerge rested in the evening to soar amongst the stars and the crisp air. An evening hunt. This would suit me. A life of quiet spaces and fresh air. A coat of feathers to keep me warm and a house of trees to rest in.
As I make it back to my car I am still feeling restless. Some days being on the land is not quite enough, I don’t think animals ever think this. I will strive towards contentment.