Sun River by Rick Bass

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December, blue sky, and too cold to be out for too long, but too beautiful to not—new snow, as well, lots of it, and a month and some change having gone past since Callie and I last hunted, with elk season having swallowed me: the rhythm of those days, hiking so far, and then moving carefully in the woods, reading the tracks. Callie’s pure and beautiful heart trapped by the vagaries of my calendar rather than by her passion; a beautiful ice-queen awaiting the fortunes of the world to turn her way once again. Wanting things to be as they had been before. Watching me, each day, and waiting, and believing—but surely, wondering.
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There was a spot I knew, a pretty good spot, with a live spring, that always held birds and, less frequently, porcupines: but the birds were there, and I had to hunt it. There was also a place where the birds sometimes flew to get away from us, a place I wanted to get permission to hunt today, in the event the birds did evade us. I wanted more opportunities for Callie, today. I’d rather do just about anything than knock on a stranger’s door and ask if I could walk across his or her property carrying a gun. I hate rejection (though I suppose no one likes it), and it seems like the old days of easy Yesses are twenty or thirty years gone-by; it’s all No, and sometimes a pretty curt No.

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