So the day didn’t start strangely enough at 3:30 a.m. when I woke to the smell of something burning. Like nothing I’d smelled before. I keep the windows open & the odor drifted in to draw me out of my dream. Opening the front door didn’t help, I saw no leaping flames or unusual glows. So I had a coffee, climbed back into bed long enough to pull the covers up & decide I didn’t really want to be there, might as well get up & get started.
Since I was so early, I pulled on my stretchies & a sweatshirt, grabbed a key & the handweights & headed out the door. Across the street was a small chile roaster merrily pumping smoke into the morning air. OH! Overnight brisket cookout.
Up in the hill-fields to my right, a loud moo-ing started up & sounded like a seashore foghorn. I just marched west on Highway 152, taking in the earliness of the day. The sun hadn’t even risen over the foothills east of town, so all was still in cool shade. It felt good to walk, to breathe, to feel the resistance the weights provided.
About two-tenths of a mile out of town, just across the bridge over Percha Creek (pictured above), I noticed a large black, indeterminate mass on the right side of the road. Now, I’ve seen critters around before, why, just yesterday the town’s small herd of mule deer dashed down our main street like a Baskerville Hound had just hit the tarmac behind them. But a large black clump of … something … deserves hesitation & respect & maybe even a quick 180 home. So I walked on a bit less enthusiastically. I wondered if it could be a few turkey vultures having a fast-food roadkill. But this black thing wasn’t really moving like anything I was familiar with.
I slipped closer, at which point, one entirely black mass separated from a black & white one whose lugubrious white face pinned me. It was a Momma Cow curled up roadside & her youngster (the size of a Shetland pony) standing over her. When she rocked up to her feet, I decided a 180 was in order. Turning, I re-crossed the bridge, casting a glance over my shoulder, wondering if they’d follow me back to town or – worse – chase me for some reason. I’d already sized up both sides of the road & I could have made it over the fencing, but not without damage from the bob-wire strands. But the range rovers were gone. Mirage? No, I saw them.
Another 180. Might as well continue my walk if the road’s clear. And at the five-tenths mark, I noticed a loner grazing in the yard where a friend lives. Then I saw my friend’s roommate glide onto the deck with a slingshot & launch at the cow. Which jump-stepped into a trot out of their yard. Ah, the pyrotechnics of my peaceful morning health walk. Hamburger on the hoof, fire to roast it in & no way I was touching either one, even with one of my 3-pound weights.
Now, I wasn’t raised around farm animals. I don’t say anything but good morning to critters I see. Walking east is peaceful, involving only a nod at a yellow-white mule; another time I sighted a gray fox dashing across the street, brush low.
Walking west from town is always an adventure; once there was a yellow dog, head down, hackles raised, growling from the shoulder of the road. I didn’t even share a good morning with that one, its rumbling found me already turning from a good bit away & I was back into town in a jiffy. Another time walking west, I found a raven hopping along the side of the road, looking for all the world like it was searching for a housekey – which it might have been, had the key been shiny.
I guess it was a Mother’s Day sighting. Today the town dusts itself off, trots out the gizmos & doodads for a half-mile yard sale. The annual Mom’s Day weekend tradition seems to be putting out goods only your Mom might remember from the days before GE & Westinghouse infiltrated kitchens.
But I’m kind of glad the bonded pair did not follow me back to town & I had no more sightings except for the birds impatiently waiting for me to exit the picnic table after an al fresco granola breakfast. They’re eager to scarf up the birdseed I put out. Now, that’s about my comfort zone of critter today!
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