March 5th, 2007


They would put it in a cage, that unstable white square. I didn't like the way it felt on my fingertips. But the ritual of hanging it from the tree out front was thrilling. Later, we would sit by the large bay window and watch the space by floodlight. The deer came to eat the ivy. The flying squirrels soared diagonally from right to left. The cage became a shimmery beacon.


At the lunch break, the presence of the wives, who otherwise keep out of the action, is gratefully acknowledged. Opening the back doors and trunks of the Land Rovers and other cars, they break out elaborate dishes for the hungry guns.

In the middle of the grouse-shoot day, guns, beaters, dogs and distaff spectators take time out for a picnic lunch. The spread, packed by the ladies, includes fancy pâtés, cheese and cakes, along with more solid fare. The lady above, ignoring an imploring spaniel, is passing around her fruit cake. Plainer and less high-toned food is brought for the hired beaters, who eat separately after helping the dogs retrieve fallen birds.