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the territory

2014 October 16
by Rachel Turiel

Each kid tucked away at a sleepover,

We come to the high country for one night.

“It’s like being people again,” Dan says, small yellow fire crackling like the echo of fall aspens.

We walk up to the pass, breath-steaming, looking for elk and deer: brown bodies against tawny slopes.

Nighttime, back at camp: thousands of stars unveiled. Pulsing flames in a black ceiling.


Morning: before dawn; jackets, boots, mittens, hats, we walk up to the pass.

Moon hovering, last bulb in the sky.

Jumbly rock iced in place.

Nose dripping, cheeks stinging, muscles singing a grateful hymn.

The land is quiet, nocturnal and diurnal animals trading shifts.

The sun arrives on daily rounds, drawing out every living thing.

Dan glasses the slopes, I catch my breath.

Five buck deer graze on bronzed slopes.

To stay warm, we walk.

In the tall, dark timber: an explosion of wings, grouse flushing from under foot.


This is Dan’s hunting territory.

The stories spill, fifteen years worth:

“I slept there once or twice.” (a nondescript grassy mound big enough for one)

“That’s a nasty creek, cliffed-out and craggy. We try and avoid it.” (Except all the times they don’t).

“Dave stopped for a snack here, his sleeping bag rolled all the way down the mountain.” (Smiles upon remembering)

The Hard Way bull, Sweet Hips, The 420 bull (not what you think), BK Bruiser, Big Timber Buck: all the animals named, remembered, celebrated, a gift from this land to our bodies.


Back at camp:

Clouds charge across the sky.

Fresh snow with fresh coffee.

I send out a Mama’s prayer: may the kids have gotten enough sleep last night and enough protein this morning.

You could come up here next year and hunt with me, he says.

I just might.


10 Responses leave one →
  1. Alanya permalink
    October 16, 2014


  2. October 16, 2014

    Rachel, I love you. Thanks for being so true, always.

    Big hugs,


  3. Dan permalink
    October 16, 2014

    Lovely honey, kisses and hugs, snow and coffee! Dan

  4. October 16, 2014

    I most of all love the picture of Dan in the snow, looking out at the land before him, the light streaming in through the clouds. But everything else, too.

  5. Andrea permalink
    October 16, 2014

    fresh snow.
    hot husband.
    no kids.

    yes, like being people again.

  6. October 16, 2014

    Schoene Webseite, ich komme mal wieder vorbei.

  7. October 18, 2014

    Beautiful! Feeling like people again. So true.

  8. nan permalink
    October 20, 2014

    Beautiful .

  9. October 20, 2014


  10. October 20, 2014

    nice. good for you guys. you totally should. also, i just finished reading your recent edible san juan articles, fun!

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