Axiom: you can’t throw anything out of a moving Automobile that doesn’t partake of the nature of the Automobile. If you’re going 60, so’s the apple core. This makes the Automobile potentially explosive, driven with the window down. This quality is called External Combustion. An apple core is shrapnel. A newspaper bellies out like an opened chute. A cigarette butt flares up one last time like a spent booster rocket falling back into earth-orbit. The process of changing from Automobile-Objects to Earth-Objects is called Decomposure. & this sort of thing happens all the time. Every seven seconds, a driver driving with a handful of sticky fingers out the window begins to Decompose, his outer cuticle turning slowly brown. Even with seatbelt securely fastened. For the driver feels the wind hauling his hand backward into another realm. Wind is the grease between Earth & soon-to-be-Earth-Objects. Perhaps Wind-Sensation is already familiar to you. Wind-Sensation is also known as Thwarted Decomposure, for the obvious reasons. & this leads us to an important point about importance: the importance of the Automobile is not its having been invented, per se, but that the idea of the Automobile & External Combustion & Decomposure & Thwarted Decomposure may lead to, could quite possibly lead to, & in fact are leading to inventions of a more radical character. For instance, an improved hunting net. In pursuing the hare from inside a moving vehicle, the hunter or huntress drops the net through an open window at a regulated speed; however, the net remains tethered, by a modified harpoon line, to the driver’s wrist. This is advantageous to both the hunter-huntress & the hare, as the net descends upon the latter at precisely the speed the hare itself is traveling. The net envelops the animal as comfortably as its own fur or its own shadow, & continues to run along with it. The hare, in point of fact, is unaware that it has been caught, & continues to run: forever, if it so wishes, turning white in winter & brown in summer. Whoso list to hunt must follow, of course, at the hare’s speed. Finding that equilibrium of motion is the sine qua non of hunting strategy. The hare’s wind must be the driver’s wind. Any excess drag on the tether-line will cause the net’s transparent mesh to rupture. & in this way the driver cannot be sure, so long as the two remain in motion, that the net has or has not caught the hare, or even whether the line remains secured to his or her own wrist, be it wrist of hunter or of huntress, who can be sure? for this net, we must acknowledge with regret, remains in prototype, though the skin of that wrist, without a doubt, is darkening this very instant, both from the sun & from Thwarted Decomposure. But the method of capture is beyond question humane & dignified & in all respects a marked improvement on previous methods of pursuing game.
Henry Walters is a naturalist, teacher, falconer, and writer-in-residence at the Dublin School, in Dublin, New Hampshire. His first book of poems, Field Guide A Tempo, was a finalist for the 2016 Kate Tufts Discovery Award.
image: Still Life with a Hare and Hunting Equipment, Hieronymus Galle the Elder, between 1636 and 1679