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Would A Sign Help? ‘Chicken Or Pheasant Crossing, Slow Down’~

 

Early Tuesday, afternoon I headed outside to get the mail. I stopped, about forty feet from the road. When I spotted some large, bird tracks that crossed the driveway, south to north.

I followed the tracks to the south, the way they came into my yard, and looked over the fence into my neighbor’s yard.  I couldn’t see where the tracks started from. But, I could see a large number of bird and small animal prints around the trees. I noticed only the large bird had separated from the rest, and walked a four toed pattern under the wooden fence.

I retraced my steps back to the driveway and hesitated. Should I just collect the mail and head back to the house?  No! This was bugging me, that bird could need help.  I decided to follow the bird’s claw prints across the front yard.

 Uriah came over and sniffed at the snow, then followed me.  

I found a couple of feathers. They were stuck in the snow a few feet north of the driveway.  Reddish mottled brown with a soft gray tuff closer to the tip, about two to three inches long, I slipped them into my coat pocket and kept following the tracks in the snow.  They guided me across the front of yard.   That bird had walked a zigzagging pattern, headed north, and kept to the harder packed snow.

I reached the property line on the north end. Slipped between the evergreens and stood on a sizable chunk of plowed up dirt, and stared across the field. Uriah stood next to me and waited.

 I took off my right glove and readjusted my hat.  The temperature was in the lower 30’s, without a wind. I wiggled toes, to check how frozen my feet were, they weren’t cold. And my fingers were still warm. I wasn’t cold at all!  This gave me a reason enough to move on with my quest.

I was thinking the bird might be a hawk and he was hurt. Why else would a bird take a walk?  He could have a broken wing!  Or he may have been clipped by a car driving by too fast!  I shook my head silently. No! If the bird had been hurt I would have seen a blood trail.

It might be a pheasant!  I usually see a few of them running in the snow, or startling me when Uriah flushes them from the tall grass.  Again, I shook my head; the tracks didn’t have lines formed from the birds trailing tail feathers. And this bird had four toes. I thought a Pheasant’s tracks usually showed only the front three toes.   

 I replaced my glove, and made sure my footing was steady. “Well, Uriah, should we head back to the house?  Or…Should we see what type of bird left those tracks?”

 I left it up to Uriah to decide what we did next.

I use my old ski poles as my walking sticks,  I grabbed them both in a way that said I was finished standing around. Then I looked towards my dog. 

Uriah sniffed the ground, glanced up at me and started to walk on ahead. Now he was following the tracks, and I followed him. 

I carefully stepped out on a wash of tiny black icebergs, small points of back earth, which stood out above the snow.

Tracks of coyotes, a fox, and raccoons crossed my trail heading off to the east and west. Tire treads cut through the snow from an off road vehicle, probably the neighbor who I saw on Sunday.  His tracks headed across the road into the farm field. The animal’s prints looked fresh, possible early this morning.  I thought, maybe they were chasing the bird. But no, the tracks crossed each other. I doubt they actually saw one another.

Curiosity had me moving on.   I was beginning to think I was following a drunken chicken

The bird had walked towards a couple of very old, gnarly Oak trees.  Scratched in the snow then turned towards the road, and walked in the ditch, until he headed out on the road.

I called Uriah back, and made him sit. I waited for two cars and a truck to pass by. Once it was clear, I allowed Uriah up and out of the ditch, so he could stand next to me on the blacktop.  I could see that something had been hit by a car recently. It laid still another twenty feet to the north on the opposite side of the road. The car that hit it, had been heading south.

I made sure there wasn’t any traffic in sight. Then, I told Uriah to sit and wait!   I approached the carcass. It was a rooster, a big roster. With a red Comb, or was it a male ring-necked pheasant? No, it looked like a rooster…

It had the shape of a fat chicken. Well sort of.  It was hit by a car!

I kept checking for cars, and took my eyes off Uriah for a second. In that time frame, he walked up to me and stared at the bird. 

I glanced both ways along the road, and then asked Uriah. “Okay, what do you think it is, chicken or pheasant?”

I rolled my eyes and shook my head at him as I checked the road.  Then I asked. “Okay, Uriah! What do you think it is, chicken or pheasant?”

I don’t think he cared.  But wanting  to get in on the game, he looked at the bird.  Then he looked back at me!  Then back at the bird! I could hear him loud and clear, “Can I take it?  Huh? Come on let me take it!” His eyes sparkled and he started prancing around.  His nails clicked loudly on the frozen blacktop.

I shook my head at him, “No! Let’s get out of the road.”

Uriah followed and only looked back once.

I saw a truck coming at us, really slow.  We had enough time to walk along the road. Then move off the road, in-between the Blue Spruce and the Austrian Pine, at the north end of the front yard.  

The truck turned out to be a farmer and his tractor; he was pulling a couple of swaying grain carts filled with corn. The farmer was very, very slowly making his way down the road. I waved at him. As I check the mail…

Seduced By The Silver Moon~

 

Photo by Rebecca Novak~ http://www.examiner.com/x-14505-Atlanta-Pet-Health-Examiner?showbio

After midnight on December 6, 2009, I couldn’t help myself. I had the lights out in the kitchen and I stared out onto the dark moonlit lawn. I felt a need to stand outside, in the dark, in the cold, alone.

The deck held that silvery glow that lit up the yard, and ironically darkened the shadows even more.  Ice glittered, scattered around the deck, haphazardly, always with one of the floor boards frosted with snow, seemly standing guard over the shimmering silver.  The railings on the north side were frosted white, while the east balustrade bathed in light as the wood showed through.

Wrapping my robe tighter around my waist I slipped outside. I should go in and grab my coat, but I had the feeling if I did I would miss out.  The moon would disappear behind a cloud and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this second.

 So I stayed.  Shivering I walked to the edge of the deck.  I looked upward, at the waning gibbous moon sitting in that hypnotic sky glowing white.  The sky around it was a dark, dark blue grey.  Farther east, the skyline glowed into a whitish, grayish, and peach, with streaks of grey cloud rising above the horizon everything was standing still. The sky was dotted with stars, only the brightest competed with the moon light.  

The constellation Cassiopeia, was sitting brightly in the west earlier tonight. Somewhere around seven PM,  I had been standing out in the driveway, staring at the sky, as I waited for my dog.  At that time, I couldn’t even see the moon, it rose late.  Now, I’m facing east and the stars and the moon are above me, bathing everything in silver light.

I heard a large animal moving around inside the trees. The wood of the Bog Willows snapped, as it moved none too gently though them. I told myself it was a deer, and continued to stand on the deck.  

The white snow glowed on the lower deck, in the grass, the burn pile, and painted patches skimmed in and out of the shadows throughout the yard. Slipping under the trees and crossing the fence line into the plowed fields.

The trees were black marks in the shadows. Beyond them I could see the glow of farm houses, crossing acres of farm fields.  The closest farm to the northeast had a blinking red light, a warning beacon for the farmer, for when he flew his Cessna in the dark. The further away the farms were, the less bright the lights.  Most only had on their outside night lights to keep away the wild animals.

The faint smell of manure and hay, wafted around the cold, still air. Night air has a different scent, at least for me, so completely different than the daylight hours. The night holds excitement, adventure! A need to explore! Possibilities move in-between the shadows. My wander lust kicks in…

I shivered. I didn’t want to step back in the house; this was too beautiful to turn away from. I told myself, just a few more minutes.  I looked back up into the sky, I got lost, as the ground disappeared and the stars pulled me upward…