Another Mike Rhinehart article

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Ysabel Kid
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Another Mike Rhinehart article

Post by Ysabel Kid »

I really enjoy reading his articles, and know a lot of you do too from prior posts.


What Can Be Learned Through Art and Grace
By Mike Rhinehart · November 14, 2023 ... 2023-11-14

I have learned that the bridge between wanting everything and expecting nothing can be easily burned by the tiniest ember. If we are trusting souls, we never see it coming and are always caught by surprise.

So, consequently, I have generally kept my own counsel but have found tremendous solace in the outdoors, my great hunting dogs, and friends whom I have shared these things with for decades. Curiously, we all love to cook and typically prepare fairly exotic fare. I think it is the art of the endeavor that appeals to us.

My desire to be normal has never extended to the culinary arts, and I find abhorrence in fast food restaurants and salad bars and buffets, much preferring something exotic or unusual even if it takes me hours to prepare.

Exotic can run from curried pheasant breasts with coconut milk and tamarind to fish meunière with collard greens and lentils seasoned with ras-el-hanout, a Moroccan spice I also use in East African recipes I have acquired. Some of these recipes are over a century old.

Exotic can certainly involve location as well. Maybe it is a camp breakfast cooked in a cast iron skillet over a campfire as first light begins to heat the sky in the lofty mountains of Montana. Perhaps not exotic to the working cowboys there around the fire, but I can assure you they understand the art of it as well as the art of their existence.

One of my memorable meals was a simple salmon fillet seasoned and cooked over an open flame at Tablesaw Rapid on the banks of the Ocoee River in East Tennessee. It was the early 1980s, and I was working as a summer whitewater guide and had just completed nine hours on the water guiding clients down the river.

At the end of the day and after bidding clients farewell, several of us guides returned and hiked down to the rapid to cook dinner and just enjoy each other’s company. My great field trial lab that traveled constantly with me at the time kept us entertained by diving into the rapids and gracefully riding the huge waves to an eddy where she would get out and do it all over again.

There was art to it all and grace among friends that has lasted over four decades.

Sleek trout and salmon live in fast-moving clear and cold rivers. These rivers all pulsate and “breathe.” Knowing the right time in fly fishing to cast the fly or having the ability to slide around rocks rather than collide with them when navigating whitewater in a craft involves reading the water, an art form in itself.

One of the memorable lines in Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs Through It is: “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things — trout as well as eternal salvation — come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”

Although I do guide upland hunts and provide local knowledge, I find I no longer have much interest in the actual killing of the birds. I love watching the dogs work and being in the mountains, woods, and open plains with them. That is where the true art is.

Once, hunting by myself, I watched my astonishingly talented Gordon setter “Maggie” run into a small open field around Devils Lake, North Dakota, and suddenly freeze into a point. Looking back at me briefly, she crept low like a cat around the edge of the field, circling until she was now pointed again and looking straight at me with a laser focus and only feet away from the bird now trapped between us.

When the grouse flushed, I just yelled “Boom!”; this despite having just spent more on the custom-fitted shotgun in my hands than a month’s wages in my prime earning years.

With the sun setting behind us and the full moon rising in front of us, the moment was simply too beautiful to disturb by taking the shot.

It brought me to tears and I simply hugged “Maggie” tight. It was art.

As we exited the field at dusk, a red-tailed hawk that had likely spotted the grouse for dinner from his high perch but was no doubt interrupted by our sudden presence in his field of prey simply glided away in the opposite direction.

That was grace.

My friend and breeder of my current Gordon setters “Maggie” and “Grace,” Stephen Faust, is certainly one of the most talented Professional Upland Hunting Guides in the business.

In a recent interview, Stephen said: “Take away my guns and I will still go to the woods and follow my dogs. Take away my dogs and I lose interest.”

Stephen in his early years was a chef. Imagine that. I hear he can cook a wonderful midday meal for his clients. He has captured both art and grace in his life.

I am saved by grace in every definition of the word and given peace and solace by the multitude of art around me.
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Re: Another Mike Rhinehart article

Post by Walker »

Now that was excellent!
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