I Have a Story (3)

(Another real life story from my sister’s life)

“On Goodbyes”

When I lived in the cold country of Colorado, I used to watch a squirrel family of five gather nuts in my front yard every morning.  One time, when I was leaving for work, I looked up and saw them crossing over to the other side of the street single file, using the branches of the trees that grew on both sides of the street with the branches intertwined over the street.

Another day, when I walked out of my duplex to get in my car, I saw a girl out in the street looking down at something lying there.  She looked up at me and said it was an injured animal.  I had an old gray sweatshirt in the car, so I gave it to her and she scooped up the animal and brought it back over to me.  Next thing I knew, she placed the bundle in my arms, and I looked down into the trusting brown, shiny eyes of a squirrel. It had been hit by a car, she said, then the girl left abruptly.

I took the injured animal into my living room and set it carefully on the floor.  I couldn’t see any blood, maybe he was just in shock.  He laid quietly on my sweatshirt, while I lightly petted him, and stared at me.  I made a quick call to the animal shelter to see what I could feed the squirrel.  As I hung up the phone, I went back over to him.  He looked at me with the most loving gaze, let out a tiny little sneeze, then died.  Blood trickled from its mouth.  It had been bleeding internally.  I very sadly placed him in a bag, set him gently in the trash bin outside, and went on to work.

I returned home from work late that night.  I shined my flash light so I could see to unlock the door.  To my surprise, I saw in the fresh snow several sets of tiny paw prints below my window and on the window sill.  My window was really low to the ground.  The squirrels must have seen me take the injured squirrel inside and they had been peering into my window trying to get a glimpse of their family member!

I never realized squirrels were that smart or family oriented.  There was no way I could tell them know their little buddy had died.  They would just have to always wonder what happened.

After that, I watched only four squirrels foraging and playing in my front yard.  I’ll never forget that I held and petted a wild squirrel as we gazed into each other’s eyes, saying silent goodbyes.

The end

I Have a Story (2)

(My sister has a lot of interesting things that happened to her.  Here’s one of them she texted to me)

I have a story.

Slinging my cameras over my shoulder one beautiful afternoon, I headed out in anticipation of spending some time outdoors in a nearby park.  I drove along a dirt road into a canyon floor, with a horseshoe ridge above, and parked in a dirt cul-de-sac.  I noted that I had the place all to myself, no other vehicles or people in sight.  I had been to this wilderness park before, but had never explored this section.  I had high hopes of capturing spectacular photos of the lavender butterflies that roosted on the shrubs everywhere.

After climbing halfway up the hill of one end of the horseshoe ridge, I immediately found the butterflies.  Quickly engrossed in getting close-ups of the creatures, I became oblivious to anything else around me.  You can imagine my surprise when, as I focused on a butterfly, a scruffy-bearded man came into focus about 15-yards below me and behind my subject.  I continued to pretend I was photographing the butterfly, while studying the man.  He was twice my weight, muscular, same height as me, 30-ish in years, and dressed in traditional motorcycle-gang garb—lots of black leather, chains, and denim pants.

I calmly continued the charade of taking photographs, while I figured out what I was going to do.  We were alone out in the middle of nowhere.  He did not appear to be doing any normal thing a hiker would do; he just stood there staring off into space.  My hackles rose as it occurred to me I was the prey, and he was the predator.

“Nonsense,” I told myself. “I’m making something out of nothing.”

I started moving up the hill.  When I moved up the hill, he moved up the hill.  When I stopped, he stopped.  It became clear in my mind that I was being stalked.

My mind raced.  How could I escape?  He was below me, so I had to go up.  If I climbed the last 10-yards to the top, I would be temporarily out of his sight.  I knew the other side of the ridge was a cliff, so I couldn’t go down the opposite side to get help.  I climbed the rest of the hill still pretending to look for butterflies, angling to the left.  As soon as I got to the top, I ducked, went in the opposite direction to the right, and squatted behind a large clump of shrubs.  I peeked around the shrub close to the ground, and there he was, standing where I came to the top of the hill, looking around in all directions for me.

(Me) Oh my!

(My sister) My only option was to travel in a crouched position, lower than the shrubs, up the leg of the “horseshoe”, increasing the distance between us before he discovered me.  I headed away from him as fast as I could go in a squat position, the sandy ground letting me travel quietly.  Soon my leg muscles ached, but I ignored the pain and pressed on to save my life.

When I reached the middle of the “horseshoe”, I spotted a place where I could possibly slide down the hill into the canyon.  Without thought of spiders and snakes, I slid downhill on loose leaves through the trees and brush.  I reached the bottom and hid to hear if he was following me downhill.  My legs were in agony.  I heard nothing.  Could he be waiting for me at my car?

I snuck in the direction of my car, expecting him to pop out at any minute.  Finally, I came to the clearing where…

I’ll be back.  Going on break

(Me) Oh, great.

(My sister) I’m back.

My car was parked.  He wasn’t by my car.  Was he hiding near the clearing, waiting for me to return?  There were still no other people or vehicles there.  I quietly, carefully made my way closer to the car.  Terrified, I decided to make a run for it.  What else could I do?  With the key in the ready position, I ran like a gazelle to the car, unlocked it in record time, dived in, and took off as fast as I could.

I shook as I drove home.  My legs were in excruciating pain, and my adrenalin rush had run out of gas.  I was young, terrified, and surprised that I had survived the situation.

It took over a week for my legs to recuperate from covering that much ground in a squatting position.  It also took a couple of days for my energy to return.  The incident had completely drained me.  I never did return to that park.  Now, thirty years later, I invested in a treadmill so I would not have to walk in unsafe places by myself again.

The end

(Me) Wow, too bad you didn’t take photos of the guy and show the police!!

(My sister) Never thought of it.

(Me) Ha! Well, it was exciting to read about. And you ducked out of writing at just the right time, leaving me hanging on a cliff with only one finger!

Brenda & Tam’s Great Adventure

(This happened on September 5, 2018)

This morning I went to visit Brenda

Brenda and her husband Fred and I chatted over the after-breakfast table (I snagged a couple of bacon slices…sigh)

Fred left to work around the farm, while Brenda and I went for a wild ride in her 4-wheel farm utility vehicle, her two dogs ran around us, baying at the fun

Brenda confidently took the vehicle off the road, onto field edges, through woods on vague paths with tree branches whipping, trying to pull us out

She showed me what oak trees look like, ash trees, maple trees, and her personal big-rock-patches (piles of rocks), and she found an old hickory nut for me

She stopped so I could run a fox-tail weed head through my hands, so soft

We saw butterflies, white, yellow, and then a monarch… and

Brenda took off to hunt for milkweed, the plant that monarchs lay their eggs on

She drove back over the field edges, but no milkweeds, drove slowly down to her mail box, looking intently at all the weeds at the side of the road.

I learned what Stinging Nettle looks like ( I have the dried leaves in tea bags!), still no milkweeds.

She turned around and drove back past the chicken coop, then abruptly stopped

Milkweed on my side!

She got out while I hung out the side of the vehicle to investigate the milkweed (now I know what it looks like)

Found one with a gorgeous monarch caterpillar, about 1 1/2 inches long, stocky, with a variety of colored bands wrapped around its body

We wondered, if we stretched out the caterpillar, if those bands would look more like monarch colors, but we only wondered

We soaked up the beautiful creature into our memories (didn’t have the camera)

Then Brenda drove further looking for possible chrysalises of the teenagers incubating into butterflies but

I was very hungry, lunch time, feeling like the caterpillar–gotta eat

Brenda drove back around to her house, the dogs looking exhausted but satisfied, and we said goodbye as I got into my car, with a smile on my face

I saw a monarch caterpillar.  Me.

Beware of Gifts

(I wrote this during winter, haven’t shared it til now)

Danger lurks around us every second of the day. When I throw out bird seed to a bunch of sparrows, they just have a marvelous time, but they also have to keep an eye out for the neighborhood cats. I worried that I was setting them up for suffering, instead of giving them a nice, unlooked for gift. Then yesterday, I noticed the birds were gone, except for three, very still, not moving in the snow, looking like smudges. I thought, Uh oh. Then, a huge, beautifully colored, hawk-like bird floated by, low, a bit further up the field, and I understood. It was like watching the Lord of the Rings with the Ringwraiths on their flying dragons.

So, I thought, Should I continue giving the birds my gift? The gift could mean death if they are not paying attention. Then I thought, all gifts, all things in this life, have the element of mortal danger attached to them. Too much food, not enough—danger of obesity or other food related problems vs. starvation and thievery. Too much money, not enough—danger of greed and arrogance vs. poverty. Everything needs to be accepted with eyes wide open to the danger within us or to the danger of predators around us. So, I will still give the birds my free meals, because anything good, even with danger attached, is still good and happily appreciated. I love gifts and a helping hand, too. I mean, even a hungry hawk would appreciate a helping hand now and then, don’t you think?

Different Feathers

(I have a new parakeet,, a young one…)

Buzzard Brain gazed around, cocking his head at my

shirt and earrings. He hadn’t seen these colors before

on me, so I had to explain. “Buzzy, I’m a different

kind of parakeet from you. My feathers molt often,

coming back in different colors and textures, whereas

your feathers stay the same, even after you do molt they

come back the same colors in the same places. You are

like someone who has to wear a special work uniform.

We can still flock together, though, we just have variety.”