As I stand in my driveway slowly sipping coffee, I hear a faint sound far above my head, a familiar trilling cry that on this warm spring morning is pure auditory sunshine. A ragged, undulating V of sandhill cranes winging north along an invisible trail seen only by them. If air currents could show ruts, how deep would they be from the eons of their passing?
I hear memory and time and forever itself distilled in that haunting call. The descriptive word for how I feel is “Zugunruhe”, and simply put, it is an innate restlessness, an instinctive urge to move with the seasons.
We all possess it on some primordial level, but shackled by circumstance, most of us long ago turned a deaf ear to its call. But when I hear the sandhills floating overhead it always stirs something inside me, a migration of the state of mind if not the body, a transition from the brooding introspection of late winter to the hope and exuberance of spring.
Soon enough the water will warm, the bass will start spawning, the toms will start gobbling (already have, actually) and even the cranks among us will smile and feel young again. Even fat, middle-aged cynics still have dandelion wine dreams of renewal, and there are few things that spur those dreams more than thoughts of a new puppy. This is the time of year when many of us are contemplating a new hunting companion, a new buddy, a new dog, even if we don’t necessarily need one. I ask, when did desire ever require need?
For me, it comes along every year about this time, just like clockwork. In fact, my spring rituals involve fishing, turkey hunting, lawn care avoidance and trying unsuccessfully to convince the wife this is the year I need a new pup. When it comes to complete irrationality, it’s hard to beat puppies. Is it the terminal cuteness that makes you want to take them home? Is it the whispered promise of future days afield? Whatever the reason, when I see them, I start scheming.
My wife, of course, is used to this. Over the years she’s heard and summarily discounted all the hare-brained schemes, the half-baked excuses, the whining, the pleading, and for the most part she’s been right, level-headed — pragmatic dreamcrusher that she is.
But now I’m in a quandary. I’ve convinced myself that I actually need a new setter pup. Two pointing dogs, one retriever. Perfect, harmonious canine Feng Shui. Such abstract arguments, however, will not generally work on hardened spouses, who need to hear excuses with at least the patina of plausibility if they are to relent. So I ask: What’s the most effective excuse you’ve ever used to convince your spouse or significant other you need a new pup? I’m all (puppy) ears.