For Orion magazine
BOTTOM CREEK, southwest Virginia, late April. It had been a dry spring. Then, a thimbleful of rain.
Gentry and Percy and I were out hunting in the early afternoon. Turkey season had just opened. We could see where they had been: little scratches in the duff revealing the dark, rich soil below.
But we weren’t hunting turkeys. No, we and the turkeys were hunting the same thing. At least Gentry thought so. “Turkeys are our number one goddamn competition,” he said. Gentry is from out near the West Virginia state line, raised in the mountains, but he talks fast and clipped, as if always slightly perturbed about something. He was wearing camouflage and a straw cowboy hat, with his shoulder-length hair pulled back. He’s a forager, chef, farmer, and glassblower by trade, depending on the day. Today, he was foraging for what the thimbleful of rain may have brought.