I came up through the valley where the homesteaders
had tried to make a go of it for a few years, past the tin
cans and other evidence of their short stay trying to rust
itself back into the ground. Up over the crest of the hill
where the Indians had lived for centuries with no more
evidence than the weathered rocks of tepee rings

It was spring and I stumbled upon what they may have
seen for years, the ageless mating ceremony of about
twenty five or thirty grouse. They didn’t see or hear me
and I stopped about ten yards away and watched,
although my mother might not have thought it proper

The hens ran around, heads down and tails up in
unbashful invitation; while the cocks puffed up the
air bags in their chests and drummed their challenge

And they looked handsome and brave in their posturing
and beckoning and their readiness for reckoning. And
the fights were on, straight on and straight up, with spurs
and feathers flying

It was vicious but pure. Not a cock fight for the
amusement of the bloody minded, but a way to see that
only the strongest would sire the little broods that would
have to survive the hawks and the snakes and the
weather, and all the dangers of a land where it takes a
great deal of courage – just to be a chicken