WILD DEATH

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Being the ‘back roads traveler’ that I am, I have made it clear that I delight in the beauty of my surroundings, especially the #wildlife.  There is however, another side to these roads…a darker side…the wild death.

I often ponder the image of a Far Side #Comic, not one that has ever existed but rather one of my own creation.  In the cartoon there is a convertible speeding down a road.  The driver of the car is a deer in sun glasses, riding shot-gun is a raccoon flicking a cigarette out, in the back there is a squirrel and a possum with big grins and hair wild with wind.  On the sides of the road are dead humans of all ages in different stages of decomposition, flattened, with tire tracks through them.

Being on foot or #bike on these back country roads one stumbles (quite literally unfortunately) upon all forms of dead little creatures.  They range from the extremely sick and twisted headless dear to the average everyday leather pouch looking leftovers of last month’s possum.  And of course, everything in between.

Last October found me and my family visiting a #Revolutionary #War reenactment at Fort Boonsboro.  The family and I stood fascinated as an actor showed us how to skin and tan our very own deer hide.  So as a #homeschool mom I was not at all surprised to hear my daughter say, ‘mom, if you find a dead dear on your run today will you bring it home so we can skin it?’

Much to my delight, a large snake met is fate near the end of one of my #runs and I cheerfully brought it to my children for approval.  They were let down; this wasn’t the buck they had imagined.  But after some convincing, I managed to get an audience.  I carefully skinned the #snake with my husband’s fillet knife which was last year’s Christmas gift from my sister.   Finally we found a use for it!  The kids were sporting exited expressions as I pointed out the little guys stomach and ribs.  The expressions faded to horror as the days went on and scent of rotting flesh hung in the air on my porch.  The nice actor never warned me about that.  Ultimately the snake skin was moved farther and farther from the porch as the decaying process resolved itself…so far that we never saw it again.

During deer #hunting season it seemed every dog I saw was guarding his own piece of the kill.  Most of the dogs just warned me with their eyes as I passed and they gnawed on their bone.  One particularly playful dog however simply could not let me pass without joining me for a romp.  So he snatched up his deer leg and brought it along.  As we ran down the road side by side I was being kicked in the butt by a deer leg.  It was rather strange.

Recently on an out-and-back run down my favorite road I spotted a perfect deer skull in the ditch.  The recent rains had evidently washed it down the embankment for me to discover.  A few yards farther down the road I noticed a really nice deer leg.  I made it to my turnaround and ran back with extra spring in my step.  As I approached the leg I barely stopped, just reached down and scooped it up mid stride.  The skull took a little longer.  With a leg in one hand and the skull in the other I loped the last mile and a half home with a strange imbalance.  As cars passed I smiled as if to say, ‘I know! Aren’t they AWESOME!’

When I arrived home I gently placed the deer leg and #skull next to the cat skull, bird skull and cow skull on my porch.  I pushed my door open and found my kids eating breakfast with my husband at the table.  As usual they asked how my run was.  I gave them a big grin and said, ‘hurry up and eat kids, it’s time for science class!’

 

Wild Death (published in the Georgetown News Graphic Column, 2011)

 

 

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Back by Popular Demand: Another Possum Story!

Back by Popular Demand: Another Possum Story!.

Back by Popular Demand: Another Possum Story!

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(In the following story, picture the guy above, but in the road with a bloody eyeball hanging from his head.)

Crabby Possum

Mary and I go biking on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  We usually meet around seven and ride the narrow back roads of Scott and Harrison Counties until nine.  Mary and I have gotten to know each other pretty well since we started biking together a year ago.

We chit-chat as we bike.  While she rambles on about something, I listen patiently, giddy with anticipation of my turn to ramble.  This is our time.  We get to vent and decompress and after two hours of bike therapy, we are new women and ready to take on the day.

It took a few rides before she realized I was a little animal crazy.

On a ride last August, Mary and I were surprised to find a possum sitting in the middle of the road.  With its teeth sneering at us, we didn’t dare get near.  As we passed, I could see it had been hit by a car and suffered head trauma.  It had been circling in the middle of the road, with a little blood trail behind it. The animal rescuer in me panicked, Mary kept rambling as if there were no suffering possum in the center of the road.

I tried to make eye contact as we passed.  I was hoping to see sweet lovie eyes, the kind of dark glossy innocent eyes a puppy has.  But this guy only had angry eyes for me.  He had a frothy grimace on his face that dared me to rescue him.   Mary warned me to leave it alone.  And we rode off.

On our way home, the thing was still there, alive, but now laying in the middle of the road.  My heart ached.  I simply could not leave the thing there, only to be hit again by another  passing car.  I had decided in my mind to come back with my car later, scoop it up and get it the care it needed (whether he liked it or not).  I would never admit this to Mary, she is a good friend but she may draw the line at rescuing a half dead possum.

I had to get the thing to the side of the road however, if I wanted to have a live possum to come back to.  I told Mary to stop and let me move the thing.  She panicked at the risk.  I maneuvered my bike so as to use my wheel as a shovel.  I pushed it across the road, as it snarled and bit at my tire.  Once safely on the side, I telepathically told him I would be back and not to worry.

After returning home, I loaded up my kids into the station wagon and set out to rescue the brain injured possum.  I explained to my kids the situation, they knew the drill, they were not strangers to their mommy’s animal antics.   We arrived at the curve and rolled down our windows in search of the poor angry possum.  Crunching along, tires turning slowly so as not to miss the thing, I spotted the telltale white hair…and then the entrails.  The intestines and liver….yep …that’s him.   “Looks like the turkey vultures got to him first kids”.  Oh, well, can’t save ‘em all.

I never told Mary about returning to the angry possum.  Had we known each other better then, I would have considered it.  Had I returned to a live possum that was ultimately saved by my heroic efforts, I may have told her.  But it was a half-baked effort to save a mostly baked possum and it was by far more embarrassing then brag worthy.

 

 

New Column that hasn’t been run in The Georgetown News Graphic yet.

Newspaper Bundle is a collection of newspaper columns available on Smashwords for free.  The following column is not available yet nor has it run in the Georgetown News Graphic as of today.  I thought I would give a sneak peek to my blog friends (even though this blog is brand new and I have no friends yet).

The Risk of Running

People often tell me I am crazy to run and bike in the remote areas of northern Scott County.  I will be the first to admit that I find myself running to the beat of banjos and the occasional rooster call.  Heck, I’ve been chased by dogs and once on my bike this spring I looked over at the pack of canines only to discover that one of them was sporting horns…it was a goat.  The goat was chasing me!

Last summer I crested a hill on Hinton-Sadieville only to find myself in a standoff with five horses in the middle of the road. And you know my history with possums. Things like this probably don’t happen to runners who stick close to densely populated areas.

So let me tell you about my friend Gary.  Gary is in the Georgetown Run Club and Intellectual Society.  He is also a faithful employee of Lexmark.  I imagine Lexmark really like him because he is very healthy and spends most of his lunch hours running the sidewalks of downtown Lexington.

Like many of the people in the Georgetown Run Club, Gary is an engineer. His brain is always moving like the well-oiled gears inside a Swiss time piece.  Gary found himself on a typical run of typical distance on a typical route in downtown Lexington during a typical lunch hour.  And on this typical run Gary, with his long rhythmic strides planned to step over the raised portion of the sidewalk on this same block that he had run so many times in the past.  But for some reason, unlike the many times he had cleared the raised portion with his right foot… this time his toe caught.

Now Gary being the engineer that he is probably had a plan in the back of his head should such a thing ever happen.  His brain was well aware of the injuries that take place when someone reaches out with both hands to catch their fall…broken wrists, broken collar bones…scuffed palms at the very least.

So when Gary’s toe clipped the edge of that raised piece of sidewalk his brain told him not to reach out.  Gary did what any engineer would do…he braced himself for a roll…much like stuntman might do from a moving train.

Unfortunately, Gary’s head hit first.  And then his shoulder.  I’m not sure exactly what order the stuntmen prefer but with Gary the result wasn’t all that pretty.  His head began gushing blood from the right temple, cars pulled over, and one man was even kind enough to take him to the urgent treatment center.

To make a long story short, Gary showed up a Run Club on Tuesday after two Cat Scans and as many trips to the hospital with six stitches in his head and two black eyes.  The road rash on his shoulder was so impressive that he was unable to run because the friction of his shirt on his wound was much too painful.  I’ll admit Gary managed to be the center of attention at Run Club and all the attention he was getting made me a little jealous.  But was it worth it?

So you go ahead and tell me how dangerous it is to run and bike up here in these hills.  Tell me I could be attacked by dogs or bears or some crazy person packing a banjo.  Tell me these hills are too steep or the roads too narrow or the cell service too sketchy.  Go ahead, but I will tell you this: there are no sidewalks to worry about out here.  And I am pretty sure that right there makes it worth all the risk.