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Archive for January, 2010

 

I noticed a hole, the size of a basket ball, directly under a Mulberry tree. A hodgepodge of animal tracks trailed over and around it.  I stepped off the path to investigate.

 My knit hat got caught up on the low hanging branches.  I took it off and stuffed it in my pocket.  The area under the tree was littered with rabbit tracks and leftovers from breakfast.  Three corn cobs void of kernels and a dusting of seed hulls from the some dried field grass.  

I leaned forward in an attempt to see how deep the hole was. “Must be a rabbit hole!” I muttered, and then I took a step back.  

Not quite trusting it to be a rabbit hole…   

From behind the trees a Ringneck Pheasant ran out. It hunkered down into the ground. With a little wiggle, it leaped upward and flew north. I was surprised he was able to become airborne so quickly.

Uriah had been walking head of me; he came running when the bird flew across the field. He had a happy doggy smile on his face. Then he looked at me questioningly. 

I shrugged!  He took that as a yes and ran off across the field to find the Pheasant.

I called out.  “Good luck!” And I pulled my hat back on and looked around for more rabbit holes. “Don’t worry about me! I can fight off insane rabbits!” I muttered as I poked my ski pole into the snow. I really didn’t want to step into a rabbit or muskrat hole.  

Uriah kept running and didn’t turn around. He was hot on that birds trail. Uriah was good at was following a scent. His eyes may be fading, but his sense of smell and his hearing is perfect. For years, Uriah had my neighbor duped into thinking he was nearly deaf.

Uriah has always been a teenager with selective hearing, especially if he doesn’t want to follow orders.

 I carefully sidestepped back into the deep snow, then into my own footprints.  I continued on with my walk.  

I knew Uriah wouldn’t be able to catch that Pheasant. He never caught one before!

The only dog I had that could catch a healthy Pheasant was Samson. His father was a huge Black Lab and his mother was a Chesapeake Bay retriever, hunting was in his blood. Samson would never hunt and kill for fun, he enjoyed his birds alive. 

Years ago in this very spot, Samson had pranced up to me with a Pheasant in his mouth. He was so proud of himself!  He had caught a bird for me!  He sat down in front of me, and gently placed the bird at my feet.

That bird hadn’t moved at all. I thought it may have died of a heart attack. I leaned forward to check on it, then it woke up and flew up into my face! 

I fell backwards, as I pushed the bird away from my face!

The Pheasant fell to the ground! I thought I hurt it. I didn’t!

Immediately it jumped up and raced around me!

Samson leaned down to sniff it as it circled around in front of him. It did an awkward leap of faith up into the air and squeaked away at a low clumsily angle. It barely avoided hitting the ground, and flew straight into the heavier wooded area along the south end.

Pheasants are very clumsy birds; they would rather run than fly.

In the meantime, Samson sat quietly, and watched. Sort of! He kept lifting up his front paws up one at a time, like he was marching in place. But he stayed seated.

“He was alive!”  When I spoke, Samson stood up and wagged his tail. “Well, that’s a good boy!” I grabbed his big velvety face in my hands and hugged him. He wiggled and danced around.

At that moment, Uriah and Zeus ran up behind us. They wanted in on the fun. As they barreled up, the Pheasant made an odd sound, somewhere between a squeak and a cat coughing up a hair ball. It echoed off and around the trees.  That sound caught the attention of all three dogs. With a backward glance at me, they ran off to find it… again!

Memories… I wonder how much of their fun is imprinted on this land.

Smiling, I called out to Uriah.  I waited and listened. This moment’s Pheasant made that odd sound somewhere in the trees.

I could hear Uriah, crunching branches as he moved towards the sound. “Uriah you won’t be able to find him!”

I waited again. Not a sound.

 “Alright, even if you do find him, you won’t be able to catch him!” Still silence. “I know you can hear me!”

My feet were freezing, and the cold had gone through my pant legs. Time to head home! I shuffled over the ice and came out in the yard, where I waded into the deeper snow piled along the southern line of trees.  

That was when Uriah came out of the trees.

Happy!  But empty handed…or empty paws!    His big eyes stared at my pocket, as he waited for his biscuit.

We both stopped when the Pheasant coughed in the trees…

I was  hoping to write for this Blog every day.  But I may get side tracked, like I did with this post. Sorry!
 
Just a Note: I have to finish a synopsis I am working on, after that I need to work on my novel. I need to get it completed so I can start stacking up the rejection letters.  I cleared a special place just for them!

 

My daughter took this picture through the kennel’s chain link fence.  She told me, it was the only way she could get them to stand still.
Samson is to the left , Zeus to the right.

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I dragged my ski pole through the snow, and watched as the snow gently wafted to the right.    The frigid northwest wind had the snow settling like granulated sugar. The air was bitterly cold, and dry, while the sun blinded me in that bright blue, blue sky.  

I had my scarf fastening tightly around my face.  My breath irritatingly hot, sweated up the inside of the scarf. I pulled the scarf down and took a deep breath of that subzero air. The intake of freezing air into my lungs hurt.  I regretted the move immediately and covered my mouth and nose.

Pheasant tracks, fresh, zigzagged ahead of me.   I caught up with the bird halfway to the back of the property. It turned to the south and ran underneath the fence and raced to the west.  Amused, I watched the bird clumsily hurry away. It had a grayish-beige body with a white ring around its neck and a dark sleek, purplish- black head. It leaped upward in an attempt to become air born. The pheasant rose nearly three feet off the ground, and pumped its wings hard and squeaked as it flew.  It sounded a lot like Uriah’s stuffed toy.

I watched the pheasant attempt to fly west. It plopped to the ground and disappeared behind a snow drift.

I continued on..

I stopped at the northeast end of the path. In that area I was slightly higher and more out in the open. Those gentle winds burned my cheeks and froze my eye lashes.

From this point, I could see where the water, only days before, had flooded the Bog Willows. The water underneath had dried up. The top of the water had frozen in place and connected to the lower branches of the trees.    

To me, it looked like someone had set up tables at a banquet hall.  There was space underneath the ice for chairs and the guest’s legs. The top of the ice was covered with a tablecloth of white crystals. In this frozen field, Mother Nature quietly waited for her guests to arrive…

With the wind at my face, my feet, and fingers and cheeks froze, painfully.  Reluctantly, I headed back home.

Somewhere above me a Hawk screamed.  I looked upward into that bright blue sky and I couldn’t find him…

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Picture from word clipart

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First day of a new year!

 I stared out the window at the icicles that clung to the screen, trailed down the deck’s railings and lengthened underneath the grill.  The winds had smoothed out the snow. And I could see little birds jumping in-between the branches of the Blue Spruce on the south side of the deck.

 Uriah was outside. I watched as he slowly trudged through the snow and picked a spot, out in the open in the sunshine, to sit down.  He looked out over the yard, and then looked over his shoulder at me. He was happy to be outside.  The sky above him was a beautiful deep blue with puffy white clouds. The ice shimmered like clear diamonds, enhanced from the blinding white sunlight, as it reflected off the snow. 

I finished my coffee and headed for my coat and boots.

Once outside I pulled my scarf up around my face. There wasn’t a wind, but frostbite was a reality in these low temperatures. Uriah danced around my legs until I handed him his morning biscuit. I waited as he crunched it to pieces. Then he nosed around in the snow until he found every last morsel.

Being Uriah he tried for two biscuits. I shook my head at him.  He didn’t seem disappointed; instead he turned and waded through the snow towards the back path.

The snow was powdery and painfully white.

Uriah stopped, and looked back at me; he was hesitant to step near the path. He must have remembered the cold water running under the ice.

 I moved cautiously forward and pushed my ski pole down into the snow. It hit frozen ground. Confident I wouldn’t end up with wet feet, I moved on.

 Ice crystals were growing upwards along every piece of dried grass and twig sticking up from the snow.

As I got closer, I could see unfrozen dark water. Little puffs of snow perched on top stray blades of grass, which sat above and over the water. The sight was spectacular! The area was covered with multiple bouquets of white snow flowers. The highest stood only two inches tall.

 Uriah took a couple of tentative steps forward, and found his own way around the freezing water. Instead of walking straight ahead, he had turned and walked into the trees and scramble over branches.  

By walking on piles of dried grass, I was able to make my way to the southern fence line. From there I picked my way around the water, hoping to avoid getting my shoes wet.  

I noticed that I was not the only one who walked this way.  I spotted the tracks of a coyote, rabbit, and squirrel. 

 I stopped and laughed! Pheasant tracks!  They were heading to the east. The same direction I was going!  As the ground slopped upward, I followed them up and away from the water.  As the path moved slightly south, I found the tracks under the trees.

That bird had followed the fence line.  He walked halfway down the path, and then his tracks turned to the south. Where he moved into the open field and headed towards the denser tree line.

I kept walking. I waded through the powdery snow.  I passed up some smaller tracks.  They looked like the rat tracks that were near Uriah’s kennel.

There were some prints I couldn’t identity.  The snow was soft and the footprints had caved in.  This animal walked with his feet apart. He left a trail, similar to train tracks.

Once I reached the end of the path I rounded the back and passed by the farmer’s air field. Headed north and took a left turn and then faced west. There the Bog Willows stayed to my right. This took me in the direction that headed back home.

 I walked under a bush, and noticed smaller tracks, possibly rat tracks. Or, maybe not! This guy had circled around and around underneath the bushes. More than likely it was gathering its breakfast. A few feet on the other side of the bush I came across a coyote’s tracks.  He was circling the bush from the outside. I assumed, he too, was gathering his breakfast.

Uriah appeared from the tree line and looked at me. I waved at him.  He turned and went back to his games.

 At that point I noticed some small, nearly dotty tracks on top of the snow.  I stepped forward and stepped into a snowdrift. This animal had to be very tiny, or he would have sunk in the snow. I stood still and picked out its trail. Then I stepped back where I could follow its path without standing in deep snow.

This animal had circled every piece of grass and wildflower it passed, and it left behind a tiny dusty trail underneath each plant.  Its tracks moved perpendicular along the path I was on.  I thought this was great!  I was heading home.  I could follow it without wasting time. I would even walk a little slower and keep an eye on its tracks.

Then the little tracks disappeared under a Bog Willow…

That was when I made a mistake!

 I walked forward to see where the animal tracks had gone to.  When I did that, I brushed against the top of a sagging Bog Willow.  It was capped with heavy snow, as was everything else in sight.

As the snow showered down on my head I heard a squeak! I saw a mouse stick his head out of its nest of milkweed seeds. That nest was built in the center of the tangled branches, on the top of that Bog Willow, which was about five feet off the ground.

I should stop here and tell you. I don’t like mice! I am the idiot that will dance on the couch, bed or table when one of the little buggers appears. On with the story…

Now, all this was happening at face level!

Uriah caught a whiff of fear and came running! He danced around my feet when he saw the mouse!  

The mouse saw the dog! Then looked at me… Its mini brain worked overtime during those seconds when it tried to figure out, who it feared the least… That was the one it would leap at!  

The Bog Willow branch snapped upward!

I squealed!

Uriah barked! 

And the mouse squeaked and landed on my arm!

I was in a Disney movie….!

My fear was that mouse would crawl down my coat!

I stopped hopping and held my hand out to Uriah to sit. I kept thinking, “Stay calm and relaxed.”   

Riight!

I reached out and put my hand on the Bog Willow.  I made a very shaky bridge, which I hoped that the mouse would use.

He did!

Once he was off my arm, I was out of there!

 Uriah continued to hop up and down. Run in circles and sniff at the snow under the Bog Willow.

I headed over the flooded path, and broke though the ice. A wet left foot wasn’t going to slow me down!

Uriah, finally decided to follow, but refused to come inside the house.  I left him outside to guard against an invasion of mice…

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This image comes from the Project Gutenberg archives. This is an image that has come from a book or document for which the American copyright has expired and this image is in the public domain in the United States and possibly other countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hickety_Dickety_Dock_1_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546.jpg

File:Hickety Dickety Dock 1 – WW Denslow – Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg

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