Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lost And Found

                          Lost And Found

Last summer I was given a waterproof sports video camera called a Hero GoPro by a friend of my wife’s, as a thank you for helping her move.  She worked for a retailer that sold them and got a good discount on it, but since I lacked any experience downloading digital video, the camera spent the rest of the summer safe in its box. 

  Then in the fall a local business that sends me lots of fishing business wanted to shoot some video to promote the fishing side of things.  We did a couple of trips but had only marginal weather, and I really hoped to get some sunnier shots of the colorful cliffs past which I float.  Then I remembered that I had the GoPro camera, and decided to learn how to use it so I could shoot video on some of the autumn trips I had scheduled. 

  The camera worked great and took excellent video, and soon my wife was using it as well to get footage of the dogs we board.  Soon ski season began and I started taking shots of some of the various tree and bump runs I love to ski all around Beaver Creek Resort. That year was one of the snowiest ever recorded in the area, and the skiing was terrific. One Friday I was doing my volunteer job at Beaver Creek, and during our free ski period in the middle of the day I hooked up with a neighbor couple who live just down the river from me. It was a perfect bluebird day, with a cloudless sky and six inches of powder snow that had fallen the night before.  I had already shot what I hoped would be good video of myself skiing down a bump run with the sun directly behind me, a perfect silhouette bouncing between the round soft mounds of fresh snow. When I met my friends, we spent the next hour filming our runs down Arrowheads perfect runs and aspen glades.

  Around 1:30 pm, it became time for me to get back to the main mountain so the three of us got back into the lift line.  Approaching the lift I reached up and took off the GoPro camera and stuck it in my jacket pocket, so as to not look like a total geek while I wasn’t using it.  Previous days on the hill I had been using the helmet mount, but it can be a little awkward to use when you can’t see the camera, so I had switched to using the head strap to keep it on my head which worked a lot better, as I could pull it off, switch it on, put it on again and ski.  As we were about to board the lift, a woman on foot came up and started asking the liftie how to get to the Arrowhead Club yurt on top, and since I was in my red volunteer coat I offered to show her.  My neighbors got on the lift and the woman and I got on the next, and she and I had a nice chat as the loft ascended. 

  When we got off on top, I bade my chairmate farewell and skied over to see my friends. As we were discussing which route we’d take back, a man skied over to us and said in a thick foreign accent that someone on my chairlift had dropped a pair of gloves. He said that he thought it was near lift tower twelve, but that he wasn’t completely sure.  I thanked him for telling me and as he skied away, I dug into my coat and found my main pair of gloves, and reaching deeper found my extra pair.  I assumed that it must have been the woman who dropped hers, but by now she had already walked further up and across the hill making her way to the yurt.  I quickly hurried away from my friends to let her know, and when I got within earshot shouted, “Excuse me ma’am!  I think you may have lost your gloves off the lift!” She heard me and turned around, shoved her hands into her pockets, and pulled them again producing a pair of black leather gloves.  “No, I’ve got my gloves, it must have been someone else!”, she hollered back.

  Puzzled, I skied back to where my friends were waiting and told them, and we discussed what I should do. My first instinct was to ski down to get them, but Ben said, “Well if they came off of a different chair, you should probably leave them where they are because someone is going to need them and will be looking for them”.  That made a lot of sense, plus if I didn’t get back to Beaver Creek I’d miss the 2:30 volunteer meeting,so we skied back to the Beav.

  When we were above Red Tail Camp, I told them that I’d like to ski ahead of them and film them coming down the hill.  When I got to the bottom, I stopped, turned, and stuck my hand into my right jacket pocket, expecting to feel the camera and its strap in there.  I had a small pang of recognition that my pocket was unzipped, but that thought reached my brain only an instant before the realization that the pocket was empty.  A big curly CFC-free lightbulb went off over my thick skull and I realized that it wasn’t a pair of gloves that had fallen off my chairlift, but my Hero GoPro waterproof digital HD camcorder!

  My friends were waiting for me to give them the signal to start skiing, so I waved them down and told them what happened.  We skied down to Red Tail Camp and they took the lift back to the main mountain and I took Larkspur up to get back to Arrowhead.  Once off the lift, I tucked the long catwalk back to Arrowhead almost the entire way.  Once there I skied underneath the lift looking in vain for my camera, feeling like the dumbest dumbass in the history of dumbasses. 

  Most of the lift had groomed runs beneath it, so by the time I came looking for the camera the odds were pretty good that someone would have found it by now.  But about halfway down the slope the groomed run turned right and the lift went through a section of dense woods, with just a narrow double black diamond trail winding through it.  I took the trail and tried to scan the brush off to my right to try and see the camera but saw nothing.  Once out of the thick growth it was back onto a groomer, and I followed that back to the lift. 

  I asked the lift attendant if anyone had returned a camera and he said no, so I took off my skis and walked over to the small rental shop to ask them and got the same response.  Then it was back onto the lift and as I rode up I kept my eyes glued to the ground below, feeling like a WWII bombardier flying over Germany looking for munitions factories.  I counted lift tower numbers and sure enough, lift tower twelve was in the thick woods. But below me I saw nothing, and from the top of the Arrowhead lift I made my way back to Beaver Creek Mountain, dope slapping myself the whole way.  Later that day I stopped by the Lost and Found office and reported what I lost, but no GoPro cameras had been found or turned in.   Over the next few weeks I stopped by several more times just in case, but the answer was the same.  One of the weird things was, about an hour before I lost the camera I had been holding it in my hands on the lift looking at it, thinking that when I got home I should write my name on it in case I should ever do something stupid like dropping it off a chairlift.  That turned out to be a great idea that but a little too late.

  When I got home that night I went online and put a “Lost” ad in the local paper, which ran for two weeks without any responses.  Then about three weeks later I was skiing near the Strawberry Park lift and saw a dark object in the snow, and when I stopped to pick it up I found that it was a wearable sports video camera, though not a GoPro.  My first instinct was to keep it, but knowing how much it would be missed by its rightful owner I made my way straight down to the Lost and Found office to turn it in.  Before I did, I stuck one of my business cards into the mount and asked the girl in the office if no one claimed it, could I have it?  I explained to her that I had lost mine a few weeks before, and that it seemed as though my getting to keep this one if unclaimed might restore some sort of karmic balance.  She said that I would have to talk to the head of the office about it. 

  The weeks passed with no word of my camera and I mentally wrote it off.  My wife and her friend who had given it to me gave me much grief about losing it, which didn’t make me feel any less stupid.  The ad ran out, and back at the Lost and Found office the manager said that even though I was the finder, I could not have that other camera.  She said that if were unclaimed by the end of ski season it would be donated to a charity. But in the back of my mind, I kept just a small glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, the camera was still up there in the snows of Arrowhead, and that once the snow melted I could go up there and find it in the woods.  That year proved to be a record one for snow however, and it kept falling well after the lifts had closed. I could see the stretch of woods from I-70, and all through March and into April I’d look at Arrowhead whenever I passed by on the interstate waiting for it to melt. 

  Finally in late April, it did.  One day I got off of work early, and instead of going home I drove up to Edwards, parked in the now empty Arrowhead parking lot, and began walking.  Up the hill I went past brownish patches of melting snow, and through wet rivulets caused by the same, until I finally reached the edge of the woods. Trying to stay as close to the underside of the lift chairs as possible, I made my way uphill with difficulty through the thick brush.  Then the hill flattened a bit right near lift tower twelve, and I was disappointed to see that some kind of crew had been through there already and had cut down all of the saplings which had impeded my progress.  It was now much easier to make my way, but if I had dropped my camera there then surely one of the trail crew would have found it.  Along the way I did find a ski pole, which helped as a hiking aid, and then a nice leather glove, and then fifty-five cents in a neat little pile.  But by the time I made it all the way through and back onto the grassy slope which a month before had been a groomed ski run, I had not seen my camera.  With that, the small flame of hope that had led me up this hillside just about flickered out. 

  I started to walk downhill the easy way along the run instead of the woods, but I stopped once more to look at the scrub brush below the lifts and noticed that the hill between the uphill and downhill chairs did have a noticeable slope between them, and I thought that maybe the camera could have hit the ground, and slid on the snow which would mean that it wasn’t right under the chairs.  It was a long shot, but I was already up here and wet and tired and dirty, so what the hell, I went back into the woods, this time hewing more closely to the downhill chairs. 

  After clawing may way through more wet and pokey brush, I stopped not far from lift tower twelve to catch my breath, looked to my left, and saw my camera about ten feet away resting beside a two-foot tall pine tree!  I did an over the top neck-snapping double-take, and closed my eyes and reopened them to make sure I hadn’t imagined it, and yet there it was, a Hero GoPro weatherproof wearable sports HD-ready digital video camera.  I picked it up in disbelief, holding it in my hands for the first time in four months.  I tried to turn it on, but of course the battery was dead, and at that point I didn’t really care if it worked or not.  Even if it were broken then at least I had some closure, and knew where it had been all this time.  Apparently, once it had fallen from my pocket it had hit the snow and slid, until it reached the little pine tree, which may have had a small well around it which gobbled it up.  I raised my hands up to the sky and yelled “Thank you!” to whatever cosmic entity is in charge of such things. 

  Now I made my way back down the hill with a bounce in my step, but I was so excited that I had to tell someone, so I called my neighbors and told them of what I was holding in my hands.  I related to story of its discovery and we had a good laugh, and after we said goodbye up I stood up, and saw the biggest black bear I’ve seen  about fifty yards away, ambling down the slope.  I tried again to get the camera to turn on but of course it wouldn’t, so I contented myself with walking down the hill following the bear, who was unaware of me at first.  Then near the bottom of the run we were sharing he abruptly stopped, looked over his shoulder, and saw me.  I stopped as well and trying to to look afraid, began talking to him.  “Hey bear!”, I called, “Nice day for a walk! Look what I found today!” I yelled, holding up my camera for him to see.  The bear wasn’t impressed. 
We stood there looking at each other for awhile, and when he sat down I began walking again.  He quickly got up, made as if to charge, and suddenly the camera didn’t seem so important anymore.  But he stopped when I did, and after another tense moment or two he got bored and slowly disappeared into the woods. 

  When I got home I had to find all of the accessories to the camera so that I could try to charge it back up, and that took some doing since I had put them all out of sight..  Seeing Hero GoPro this and Hero GoPro that had only served to piss me off in the intervening months, and on a couple of occasions I had been tempted to toss that stuff out.  When I first plugged it in nothing came on, and I thought that maybe after all that, the camera was dead. It was in a clear waterproof housing, but the housing had slightly popped open when it hit the ground, and perhaps moisture had gotten inside.  But I left it plugged in overnight, and the next day when I tried to turn it on I was delighted to see it come back to life.  The next step was to try to download the video on it, and my wife who is a wiz with iMovie plugged it in to her Mac, and it spent the next night being downloaded onto that. 

  The next day the neighbors happened to be over, and all of that video now resided on her hard drive.  At the bottom of the screen was a series on little thumbnails showing what video there was, and you could see that the first several of these thumbnails were of ski footage but eventually all the thumbnails turned black.  We started watch the videos on her computer screen and there was indeed some good footage of all of us.  But then the image turned very strange, it looked like a colonoscopy.  The image was mostly dark, but with a red flower-looking center that opened and closed like a video voyage of someone’s small intestine.  I turned up the audio to see if that would lend any clues and what we heard was my deep, rhythmic breathing.  We quickly realized that it was probably the sound of me poling my way into the lift line, and the reason the image kept going from dark to deep red was that my arms were moving forward and back.  It seemed that when I stuck the camera in my pocket, I had forgotten to shut it off!

  Now we all hunched around the computer screen, watching as the image brightness stabilized.  That would have been me riding the lift!  And as we watched, the image went from almost dark to slightly brighter, then a little brighter, then brighter still, until suddenly it went to bright white.  That was the camera coming out of my pocket, and the auto exposure trying to catch up!  Then as we all watched, we saw a nice digital HD image of the snowy ground below the Arrowhead chair lift rushing at the camera, like smart bomb footage from the first Gulf War.  Finally the image went black, and a second or two later the autoexposure caught up again and after the image brightened, we were treated to a nice image of snow, of which there was an hour and a half more of filling my 8gb SD card.  We hooted and hollered and laughed watched the footage again and again.  The camera’s head strap had apparently acted like a parachute to keep the GoPro’s lens pointing down as it plunged to earth. 

  The camera is still working fine, and its cinematic career has come full circle.  All of that massive snowpack led to an epic river running season, and I got terrific footage of some massive waves with it.  I wish I could say that I’ve gotten smarter about zipping pockets and the like, but my absentmindedness only seems to get worse the older I get.  However I did do one thing since I got it back – I etched my name and phone number onto the camera in case I lose it again.  Perhaps someday I’ll have a couple hours of footage of the Colorado River, from a trout’s perspective!

 Not long after I wrote the above, my wife and I did what was supposed to be a quick float down the river in a two-person inflatable kayak.  The river had receded from its record levels, but was still very high for August.  There was a wave train that had been particularly fun that summer not far from our put-in, but what were fun waves in a full-sized raft looked enormous from the ducky.  A big refractor swept over the left side of the little boat, and flipped us into the river.  The Go Pro was on my head, but not for very long. My wife and I had a very long and scary swim, and it wasn’t until we dragged ourselves out of the river that we realized that I had lost the Go Pro again.  I had lost it for four months, had it back for four months, and then managed to lose it again, this time in a place where the name I etched onto it wouldn’t do me any good.   
  Every time I’ve told this story to someone, (usually to strangers on the
Arrowhead chair lift), they tell me that I should let the Hero GoPro folks this story,
and maybe I could get a free camera out of it.  I don’t really expect that to happen, but since I’ve had many people tell me that and I’ve been too broke to buy another yet, I decided to actually write about it and send the tale to you.  I really loved that camera and would love to get another one some day!  Feel free to use this story for whatever marketing purposes you wish!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Switch Flips

                                              The Switch Flips

Winter has finally begun, and this year it came in like a lion (or perhaps a yeti). It had been a fairly mild November, and by the time Thanksgiving rolled around the river was still ice-free and fishable.  We were beginning to wonder if winter would ever arrive, since by then we would usually get one or two precursors of the new season in the form of early snowfalls that quickly melt.   But this year there was none of that, except in the higher terrain where it was greatly appreciated by the ski areas.  But then on the Tuesday night after Thanksgiving the weather grew cold and dark, and we woke up on Wednesday morning to a foot of fresh powder. Winter had arrived literally overnight. 
  I used to think that if there was any month that it wasn’t great to live in Colorado, November was it. After all, most of the ski areas weren’t open yet, the fishing isn’t as good as it is earlier in the fall, and the weather can be a little less sunny than the rest of the year.  But I’ve begun to have more of an appreciation of November, since it’s a month that I tend to drive around with both my skis and my fishing gear in the back of my truck. May is the only other time of year that I do that. From June until Thanksgiving, I usually have a bag of fishing gear with me in my truck or car wherever I go, just in case I find myself driving along the Eagle or Colorado Rivers (or just about anywhere in the state) with a little extra time and some open fishy water beckoning me.  From November until June, that fishing bag is replaced by my ski gear.  That way if I find my work day ending early, I can drive up to Arrowhead to get in a few runs on the mountain.  Or, if I’m going to the Front Range, I might either have the time to do some turns at A-Basin if its open, or off the top of Loveland Pass if its not. In May and November the back of my car or truck can be a little crowded with gear, but it’s a good kind of inconvenience to have to deal with.
  Over the past few years, the early season skiing at A-Basin has gotten better, partly due to the fact that there is more snowmaking there than there used to be.  For many years they wanted to increase their snowmaking, but we being sued by Trout Unlimited for trying. Once A-Basin won the right to make snow, they were able to get their rocky terrain covered in the white stuff earlier than would have been able to in the past.  Suddenly the November skiing could actually be pretty good. 
  Anyway most autumns I have fishing on the brain, partly because after watching other people fish all year I suddenly have time to do some myself.  Then the ski areas begin to open, but fishing remains in the forefront of my consciousness.  But at some point there’s a switch that flips in my brain, sometimes with an almost audible click, and at that point I can get as obsessive about getting on the hill as I was about being thigh-deep in some river only a short time before.  The way winter came in overnight this year resulted in one of those short transitions. Beaver Creek has been open almost a month now, and the conditions have been very good already.  My favorite type of skiing is to be found in the trees, but some years it’s not safe to hit those until January, since they’re not maintained and it takes a certain amount of snowfall to cover all of the felled trunks and downed limbs. But I’ve already done a bunch of tree skiing already this year, and it not even Christmas yet.
   So fishing has taken the back seat, and will remain there even as my fishing magazines begin piling up unread.  Usually I forget about fishing until January, when the Fly Fishing Show in Denver rekindles my interest.  Once I come home from that, it’ll usually motivate me to go hit a tailwater like the Frying Pan, the Blue, or the Yampa.  But an afternoon of freezing my ass off doing that is usually all it takes to get me looking up again, at the snow-covered hills all around. 
  I did have an epiphany last February fishing the Pan with my friend Ryan that might lead to more winters forays however.  We were out there one day with the air temperatures about twelve degrees.  It was one of those days where its actually warmer standing in the river instead of our of it, since the water temperature was a balmy forty degrees. We had the Toilet Bowl almost to ourselves, which is pretty unusual on the Frying Pan.  The Bowl is right near the outlet of the dam, and where all of the real leviathans live.  About every three or four casts I would have to stop to clear the ice off my rod guides, and doing that for the umpteenth time I broke tip of my rod.  This pissed me off, but then I remembered that I had my tenkara rod in my truck.  I put my conventional rod away and switched to the tenkara, and found it to be the perfect tool to fish in sub-zero temperatures.  Its thirteen feet long and has no reel, only about fifteen feet of line and leader with which to toss a fly.  Not only were there no guides to freeze, but there is very little handling of the line necessary, which leaves your hands much dryer and warmer.  I expect to be doing much more of that this winter. 
  But until then, the switch in my brain is still firmly flipped to the “Ski” setting, and as long as fresh powder keeps falling from the sky that’s where it will stay. Although, I did just finish clearing off a 300’ x 30’ space on the river ice in my backyard on the Colorado River, and so I’ll have to figure out where ice skating and hockey is going to fit into my limited recreational time!

Shooting The Goddamn Pigeons

                                  Shooting The Goddamn Pigeons

  In honor of the on-going Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by the Audubon society, I’m pleased to announce that there are three less goddamn pigeons in my great backyard than there were yesterday. 

  Shooting the goddamn pigeons in my yard has been something I’ve been doing for the last year or so, ever since their population began to get way out of hand.  My wife and I live on the Colorado River, which is sort of an interstate highway for birds of all types. We regularly see hummingbirds, eagles, ospreys, orioles, finches, tanagers, redwing blackbirds, and many, many others, including the goddamned pigeons.  Hanging around our house are six normal bird feeders, as well as five hummingbird feeders that we hang in the springtime when the hummers begin to show up.  We love birds, and used to enjoy waking up to their happy songs every morning. That is we did, until the goddamned pigeons began to show up. 

  Why goddamned pigeons began to appear here and where they came from is still a bit of a mystery.  We didn’t used to have any, but one day we had one or two and soon after it became a dozen and not long after that it became two dozen and now there is even more than that, to many to count. The two main pastimes of the goddamned pigeons seem to be cleaning out our bird feeders, and engaging in pigeon coitus to produce even more goddamned pigeons.  It may be that they first started coming around because of our horses across the street, for when they aren’t vacuuming up the millet in our feeders they’re over by the horses picking through their waste looking for an afternoon snack.  If you are an aficionado of flies and goddamned pigeons, I suggest that you buy a horse or three, you’re guaranteed to have plenty of both.  In response to the first group of pests, my wife undertook the world’s most comprehensive study of fly traps, to determine which is the best to way to eliminate flies.  Since she wanted to have a big enough sample to make her study stand up to peer review, we now have approximately 11,321 different fly traps which stick, electrocute, maim, entrap, cook and poison the little germ vectors. 

  The goddamn pigeons have been another matter.  For a long time I tried to ignore their increasing numbers, but they simply became to numerous to ignore.  Not only to they quickly hoover up every scrap of food that would otherwise end up in the belly of some more deserving bird, but the riotous ruckus they make in the process of doing so wakes me up most mornings.  The two things that I most like to hear first thing in the morning is the happy song of some little bird greeting the day over his breakfast, or the low murmurs of my wife wanting some lovin’.  My least favorite sound to wake up to is the noise produced by some fat unruly goddamned pigeon flapping and cooing and banging into my bedroom window fighting one of its cousins over who gets to inhale the food in the bird feeder first.  In addition to the cacophony the goddamn pigeons make, their battles often get our cats going slightly bonkers as well, and that tends to get the dogs up, which in turn means that in very short order, the whole house is awake. 

  Now, instead of filling the bird feeders before I go to bed at night so as to ensure some lovely songbird symphony, I leave them empty to I can get some sleep in the morning.  This means that a lot of our nice birds have left, preferring to live their lives somewhere away from the goddamned marauding pigeons, and I can’t say that I blame them.  So I’ve over the past year or so, I’ve begun doing some pest control, and have been shooting the goddamn pigeons with my twenty gauge shotgun.  It’s very satisfying to watch them plummet to the earth and hit the ground with a thud. Its even more fun to let my yellow lab out into the backyard to retrieve the goddamn pigeon, for nothing please my dog more than to have a warm bird in his mouth, its like lifting a foamy glass of Guinness to mine.

  Unfortunately shooting them is not as easy as it sounds, for they are very clever bastards.  It used to be that after they woke me up, I’d just grab the twenty gauge, open a window, and blast one out of the tree or in mid-air as it lumbered away with its breakfast.  They’re as fat as geese and not very fast.  But now they’ve taken to stationing a lookout, and when I get out of bed they warn the ones who are feeding, and will fly off around the corner.  There they wait until I go back to bed, and am almost asleep, before returning to resume their feeding frenzy. 

  This morning was a perfect example of that.  I was woken from a sound sleep by what sounded like someone banging on the bedroom window wanting to get in. (Since our bedroom is on the second floor, that would have been no mean feat).  I got out of bed, but the goddamned pigeons saw me, and scurried off.  It’s hard to say for sure, but from the noise they were making I’m pretty sure that they were laughing.  I went back to bed, and pulled a pillow over my head, but they were soon back, flapping and cooing and making the feeding squeak with the way they were making it swing around.  That’s how the clever bastards get the remaining millet out – by knocking the crap out of the feeder to rain breakfast down upon their accomplices below. I got out of bed again, filled the feeder, and went back to bed, this time keeping one eye open for them. Soon they were back, and this time I let them eat their fill, so they might become even fatter and more complacent.  As I watched them, I was amazed to see the clear vertical tube of feed visibly drop as two of the goddamned pigeons went to work. In response, they seemed to almost inflate like a pair of small balloons.  Slowly, I rolled out of bed and crawled on all fours like a cat, over to the bureau where my twenty gauge was leaning. I carefully peered over the bed in front of the window, but when I tried to open the window to give them the Lee Harvey Oswald treatment they flew away, giggling wildly.  I went back to bed and repeated this twice more, but each time they flew off just in time. 

  A change of tactics was called for, and the next time the goddamn pigeons came back I was waiting for them downstairs, just inside our sliding glass door. The problem with shooting them from downstairs is that this is where the labs sleep, and as soon as they see me with the shotgun in my hand they begin to lose it, for they know that very soon, they might have a warm goddamn pigeon in their wide, soft mouths. So the hardest part of assuming the downstairs sniper position is keeping them calm for long enough for me to open the door and blast one out of the sky.  This I managed to do, and I slowly slid the door open just enough to stick my nose out to look up at the bird feeder hanging outside our bedroom window. Sure enough, two of the goddamn pigeons were up there snorkeling up what remained of the food.  Our two Labradors were doing there best at shutting the hell up, and the effort was making them quake in anticipation.  I slooowly opened the door wide enough to get my head, shoulders and shotgun out, and took aim at the fat goddamn pigeon who was furthest from my house. I had to wait until he took wing, so the bird feeder and the corner of my house wouldn’t be annihilated in the process. 

 Daisy our black lab couldn’t take it any longer, and barked.  The goddamn pigeons took flight, and I squeezed the trigger on the one who had laughed the loudest, had him dead to rights.  CLICK!, went the shotgun, since I had neglected to put in a live shell before beginning my morning’s efforts.  Both goddamn pigeons flew off laughing harder than ever, and my dogs looked at me as if I was the biggest idiot they’d ever seen. They were used to me walking out the door and returning with birds or fish.  To see me fail so utterly, standing there on the cold deck wearing nothing but a pair of Crocs, confused and disappointed them.  I let them out to potty, and made busy in the kitchen until the goddamn pigeons returned.  The dogs came in, the pigeons came back, but as soon as I opened the door a crack they flew off. 
It was time to adjust strategy again.  My wife’s assistant was due in soon, so I went upstairs, put on some pants, and put on a big green Eddie Bauer parka I bought years ago in case I ever go to the North Pole.  I stood outside the sliding door and held very still, shotgun close to my chest.  Soon the goddamn pigeons were back, but I held very, very still.  The labs were back to full attention inside, but as long as the door stayed closed the goddamn pigeons weren’t bothered. 
  I quickly raised the shotgun and the fat bastards threw up their wings in surprise.  The first one away from the house flew right into a dense pattern of birdshot and fell like a heavy stone.  The dogs went ballistic inside, and I let my yellow lab Yuker burst outside to claim his prize.  He was on it in no time, and began doing his prideful little walk, ears flattened forward and front shoulders doing a bulldog-like rocking gait. Later that morning I was able to shoot one more that was too fat to fly from the bedroom window.  In the afternoon, most of the mob was on the cliffs above the horses, and I got a final one with my pump action in mid-air as he lumbered away.
  The problem with shooting the goddamn pigeons is that every time you do, two more seem to appear.  There seems to be an infinite supply of them, coming from god knows where. I’ve been turning my bedroom window into the Colorado River Book Depository now and then for the last year, but there are twice as many goddamn pigeons than there were when I started. So when the futility of the exercise begins to wear on me, I turn a blind eye to them, and just resign myself to filling the bird feeders as often as possible (all the while watching the goddamn pigeons get as big as turkeys).
   But then some morning soon, there’ll be ten of them outside trying to break in again, and out will come the shotgun for some goddamn pigeon genocide!