I think I need to name my mountain bike. I’m thinking “Grouse Flusher.”
Generally, I’m not into naming my things, but I might have to make an exception. You see, I can hardly go for a mountain bike ride without having a grouse — or, on occasion, several grouse — appear out of nowhere as I’m cruising down the trail.
And, on more than one occasion, that sudden flush of a grouse, or several grouse, has caused a near-crash. And some of those near-crashes are getting a bit too close for comfort.
Many people like to refer to grouse as “stupid chickens,” but I disagree. If you ask me, they’re on the same list as moose and bears for the potential to cause bodily harm — though for different reasons.
As an aside, the list also includes a porcupine that was shuffling down the middle of the trail, and forced me to make a split-second decision between running it over or bailing into a patch of pushki. I chose the pushki, because I knew I only had enough tire repair supplies to fix one flat, but to this day, that decision remains debatable.
Anyway, if you don’t believe me about the ferocity of the spruce grouse, just ask a friend of mine who was forced to used her bear spray on a particularly pesky one while going for a jog on the local trails.
In fact, in some Native American cultures, Grouse is depicted as a brave warrior. In one story from the Pend d’Oreilles people, two grouse defeat Coyote by hiding in the brush and surprising him as he was walking along a ridge. One of the grouse flaps around Coyote’s head while the other flies around his feet, causing him to lose his balance and fall off a cliff.
I know how Coyote felt.
But, back to naming my mountain bike. As I said, I’m not really big on naming things. I know many people who have named their bikes, or their cars, or other possessions. If you think of your bike as your “steed,” as some people do, I guess naming it makes sense.
Personally, I’m more of a labeler, rather than a namer. For example, my daughter has named her car Sherrie, while I’ve always referred to it as “the red car.”
Likewise, I drive a truck, and ride my mountain bike or road bike. Heck, most of the time I even refer to my kids as Thing 1 and Thing 2.
There was a point where a friend cajoled me into coming up with a name for my bike — Hobbes, because it’s orange and black like the tiger in “Calvin and Hobbes” — but it didn’t stick.
However, they say that naming something gives you a certain power over it. Or maybe naming your fear helps you face it.
Either way, I feel like I need to rein in this ability to flush a grouse before I end up like Coyote. So, Grouse Flusher it is.
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.