Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ivan Turgenev says . . .

In the evening the hunter Ermolai and I went out for the 'flight' . . . But perhaps there are some of my readers who do not know what I mean by this. So listen gentleman.

A quarter of an hour before sunset, in spring, you go into a wood, with a gun, but without a dog. You choose a place somewhere near the skirts of the wood; you have a look round; you inspect the cap; you make a sign to your companion. A quarter of an hour passes. The sun has set, but it is still light in the forest; the air is clear and translucent; the birds are chattering away; the young grass glows with cheerful emerald brilliance . . . You wait. Inside the forest it gradually grows dark; the scarlet light of sunset slowly slips the roots and trunks of the trees, rises higher and higher, passes from lower branches, still almost bare, to the motionless, sleeping tree-tops . . . Now even the tree-tops have faded out; the ruddy sky turns to blue. The smell of the forest grows stronger; there is a faint breath of warm dampness; a breeze comes fluttering in to die away beside you. The birds go off to sleep -- not all together, but according to their kinds: first the chaffinches fall silent, then, after a few moments, the robins, after them the yellow-hammers. In the forest it grows darker and darker. The trees merge in to great masses that loom up ever more blackly; in the blue sky the first small stars make a timid appearance. The birds are all asleep. Only the redstarts and the small woodpeckers still give an occasional sleepy whistle . . . Soon even they are silent. Once more there rings out above you the clear voice of the chiff-chaff; somewhere an oriole utters its mournful cry, the nightingale chuckles for the first time. Your heart grows tired of waiting, and suddenly -- but only sportsmen will understand me -- suddenly in the deep stillness there comes a special kind of whirr and swish, you hear the measured stroke of swift wings -- and the woodcock, with his long beak drooping gracefully down, comes swimming out from the dark birch tree to meet your fire.

This is what is meant by 'waiting for the flight'

from A Sportsman's Notebook

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