Saturday, July 14, 2007

Spotted Wildlife Spotting

Miss Brenda was overwhelmed by opportunity the other evening and quite unprepared to take advantage. She recovered nicely, but I haven't seen her that animated and moving that fast in a long time.

The grandchild, and his dad, #1 son, are visiting Eegeebegee this week, and Miss Brenda and I have revelled in seeing the country sights through the eyes of an adventurous 21 month old boy. Blackberry picking, in particular, has been a face-purpling joy for the little scamp. By my calculations, he has consumed the critical ingredients for three jars of jam and two blackberry cobblers, intercepting said critical ingredients early in the pick to pail to pie production process. We were down in one of the fields below the house the other evening hanging up a feeder for my turkeys and whitetails, and Miss Brenda diverted for a low pass of the brambles lining the field to check for ripe berries.

The grandchild, #1, and I finished securing the automatic feeder from a oak limb and sat on the tailgate of the truck admiring our accomplishment. We called over to Miss Brenda, "Any ripe berries, Nana?"

"Quite a few."

#1 left Caleb and me at the truck and walked through the tall grass over to where Miss Brenda was reaching into the brush, liberating berries. Shortly after Josh got over to her, Miss Brenda came running back across the field toward the truck. She was highstepping with elbows in the high port position, giving the distinct impression of being chased by something. Curiously, #1 was still standing still, where his mother had departed company with him. As Miss Brenda neared Caleb and me, she breathlessly exclaimed, "Are the keys in the truck!?!"

I responded in the affirmative and lifted Caleb off the tail gate as Miss Brenda clambered into the cab, "Gotta go get my camera!," and gunned the truck back up the hill toward the house.

I called over to #1, "What is it?" But he was standing stock still and wouldn't holler back.

I put Caleb on my shoulders and headed over to where Josh was standing. Before I could work my way through the tall grass, Miss Brenda came bouncing back down the hill in the truck, skidded to a halt, leapt out with camera in the over-crowd paparazzi position and high-stepped past me like a Marine on a mission. What she said as she blew past me made no sense whatsoever.

"There's a great big black snake in the garage!"

My pea-sized brain was working overtime to process that last bit of data and collate it with the rapid movements and lack of movement of Miss Brenda and her first born, respectively, as I moved up behind them and noticed what they were worked up, and stock still, respectively, about.

In the tall grass under the bushes lining the field was a days old fawn. I'm talking less than a week of days old. Still wobbly. Cuter than Caleb. More spots than not. It was so young that it seemed to mistake our presence for the presence of its mama and it was mewling quietly and stumbling around back and forth in a tight circle of beaten down grass.

I let Miss Brenda take pictures from no closer than six feet and then moved everyone off and away. I knew mama was close by and wanted her to be able to get back and collect her baby before it got dark and the coyotes started prowling. As we walked back to the truck, I asked, "What's this about a snake in the garage?"

"When I got to the house there was a big black snake in the garage in between me and the door. I tried to shoo him out and he coiled up and hissed at me! Look, I took a picture of him."

Sure enough, she had a close up of a big black snake with lots of tiny faint yellow spots. Indigo snake, I believe. A good snake. Fast. We used to call them "black racers" when I was a kid.

"Look at this picture of it's tongue hanging out of the corner of its mouth."

"Uh, dear. That's not its tongue. That's the tail of a rat."

Not sure if she was more upset about the snake or the rat.
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