The water is warm and gritty but it will extend our range, so the taste doesn’t matter much.
Out here in the flat, away from the roads and far from the convenience store world we live in, it is the space in between that is most relevant.
There is nothing but the dog and I, the rolling hills and a cup of chemically purified water. It tastes almost sweet with the sense of self reliance.
The muscle aches that flared near the truck are gone and I’m walking easy now. We’ve been into a few coveys and our steady pace follows the terrain lines.
There is no sign that anyone has passed before us.
It feels good to be alone.
I came for the quail but now it is the horizon that pulls me along.
Besides the dog and my shotgun I have a handful of iodine tablets in my vest, a zippo and a two-bladed Case knife in my pocket. Everything a man might need to cross a barren landscape.
The urge to continue – to journey – is ever-present.
A biologist friend of mine told me about a female coyote that was collared out on the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau in south Texas in the early 90’s. She turned up a few years later in the middle of Arizona, nearly 1,000 miles from where she started.
I often think of that coyote when I am afoot in wild country. Did she get run out of her territory or did she just have a touch of wanderlust? Did she journey west all at once or did she just gradually drift across the open spaces?
The sun has dropped well below it’s apex and if I turn back now, I will find the truck only a few minutes after full dark.
With a last look west I turn for home. The dog circles wide, still hunting.