I have been rereading Burton L. Spiller’s, Drummer in the Woods, and wanted to share one of my favorite quotes from “His Majesty, the Grouse”:
Just recently an acquaintance took me to task for spending so much time afield. “Did you ever count the cost of your hunting?” he asked. “Of the time you have lost and the money you have spent?”
I replied, and truthfully too, that I had never lost a moment’s time in hunting: that I counted only that time lost which I spent working.
My acquaintance is the type who believes every argument is won by the person who shouts the loudest; so after he had become sufficiently out of breath to listen for a moment I told him the truth.
“You,” I said, “have tended strictly to business for more than a quarter century. Sick or well, winter and summer, through storm and shine, you have missed hardly a day. You have acquired a lot of money. More money than I can even dream of having. I hope you enjoy it, for you have paid a high price for it. A mighty high price. You think the days and weeks and months I have spent afield were wasted. Well, let me tell you this. If such a thing were possible, I would not trade even the memories of those glorious days for all the money you will ever possess.”
He told me the exact hyphenated sort of fool I was, and seemed to be offended because I had uttered a simple truth. And it was the truth.
Can memories be measured by gold? If so, then I am rich indeed. Who can value in gold the worth of the memory of the first grouse, of the first double, or of the day when five grouse got up from a brush pile, one after another while I, armed with a pump gun, missed them all. There are thousands of memory bonds stored in the safe-deposite box of my memory, and each has its coupon of happiness and health attached.
While I understand the importance of hard work, I totally agree with Spiller on the worth of our hunting and fishing memories. Like Havilah Babcock, my motto is: “Work hard and quit suddenly!” In other words, it is important to work hard, but it is also important to take the time to rest, relax, and recreate as a bow that is always strung loses its spring.