But today, the scene began to change. You see, there has been some sort of golden orb hovering in the sky lately. It seems to be radiating heat. Its the strangest thing I've ever seen. The old timers claim to know what it is. They call it "the sun". Apparently it will make all the snow melt soon. If it does, I am going to write that Al Gore fellow to thank him for all the hot air he's been sending our way.
As for our dogs, they've been hibernating since the last day of the hunting season just before Xmas. We lost Felix last fall to blastomycosis. I cried like a school girl for weeks and still whel up when I think about the old guy. Our remaining two are now starting to stir as the temperatures rise above minus hell-freezes-over.
Spring training should start in about a month. We will be back from Europe then. My wife and I leave for Prague in two weeks where we've made a date with some Cesky Fousek folks for a photo session and beer drinking seminar. We then head to Slovakia to meet some Rough Haired Slovakian Pointer people and photograph their rough haired dogs. Next, Budapest for a Vizsla photo session. Then we hop a plane for Paris.
We will be in France just in time for the spring field trials in Picardy which is still dotted with the scars of WWI battlefield trenches . They are now filled in of course and planted over with winter wheat. It is actually quite a beautiful area. Undulating fields of green, home to countless pairs of Grey Partridge make up the majority of the landscape. But the landscape is dotted with cemetaries and monuments, testament to the carnage that occured 90 years ago.
I'll photograph all the usual suspects: braques, epagneuls, setters, pointers. This time though I will also seek out the Dodo bird of bird dogs: The Boulet Griffon. Similar to the Korthals Griffon (WPG), the Boulet was in fact used as a founding breed of the Korthals but seems to have gone extinct. Although reports still surface once in a while of a Boulet Griffon been seen or found in some remote corner of the country, the only certified real-deal is a dog named Marco. He can be found at the Museum of natural history in a town called Elbeuf in north western France. It should be a pretty easy photo to take since I am sure he will not move much. He's been standing there, on point, stuffed for about a hundred years.
Winter is reading time for us, although I must admit to devouring books all year round. Lately I've been reading a lot about the history of dogs. One of the very best books on the subject I have read in a good long time is The Truth About Dogs by Stephen Budiansky. I am only half way through but have already decided to purchase a copy and to re-read it on our trip to Europe. The book is one of those rare works that really helps connect the dots when it comes to the history and evolution of the dog. It is very well written, an easy read and full of the kind of insights that are a refreshing change for the typical crap we so often read about dogs. Speaking of evolution, I finally purchased a copy of Darwin's Origin of Species instead of taking it out of the library again and again. I think it will make a nice addition to our own library.
Darwin was a fascinating fellow whose adventures are quite well described in another excellent book I read recently Bill Bryson's A Short History of Almost Everything. Bryson is an excellent writer with the rare gift of being able to make science not only understandable but endlessly fascinating to even the most ardent right-brainer. If I were to draw up a top ten list of books I've read this year, I think Bryson's book would be in spots 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. It's that good.