Friday, February 22, 2008

Squirrel and Goose

Everything said, Don't go for a walk. Not now. Wait. But did I listen? No.

I came home, laid down on the bed to greet the kids and almost immediately Winnie and Olive curled up on my back and fell asleep. Duncan nestled down above me and I watched the small birds hop outside the bedroom window while he licked the top of my head, one paw resting on my shoulder blades. It had been a long day and as tempted as I was to take a nap, with all those warm bodies curled on and around me, the sweet whistles of the birds lulling me to sleep, I rolled over, much to the annoyance of the cats, and got up. Duncan began his dance and chirp as we leashed up, grabbed our big stick and headed outside where I immediately stepped in a pile of poop that someone (the neighbor with lab) forgot to clean up. With Duncan pulling me along I did that walk we've all done when we've stepped in something unpleasant, a kind of shuffling, dragging lope, pressing my foot firmly down into the grass in order to wipe off the mess. I scraped my shoe on the gravel, on the rain gutter that runs down the middle of the back yard, along the edges of the sidewalk, even against one of the trees, all of which was made more difficult by the insistence of the dog who had more important things to attend to. I mean, what's the big deal, right? He eats the stuff all the time.

As the weather has warmed and our days have grown longer, we've stopped seeing rabbits and have spent a lot of time chasing large flocks of geese and treeing squirrels, which we did almost immediately upon entering the park. While Duncan clamored around the trunk of the tree, I continued my scrape and slide, scrape and slide, the squirrel above screaming down a litany of curses at us, its tail cutting the air almost violently. When Duncan realized it wasn't going to come down we moved on to the next tree, and the tree after that until we'd crossed the baseball fields and treed another one near the batting cages and volleyball courts. Duncan whined and shuffled around while I gazed up and did my best squirrel impersonation, which is quite good if I do say so myself. It screamed at us for several minutes and then fell strangely silent, wagging its tail and–I swear I'm not making this up–smiling at us. Duncan plopped down in the grass and as we stared upward the squirrel farted and released four or five small, black pellets which dropped and bounced, dropped and bounced again and finally landed blink blink blink on my arm. I jumped back, Duncan jumped up and that's when the geese appeared.

They were a small flock, perhaps only twenty or thirty in all, and they'd been resting on the gentle slope of hill above us. When I screeched and Duncan barked, they climbed to their feet and ran straight at us in that funny, heaving way that geese have, opening their wings and flapping furiously to gain altitude. Geese trying to fly is not a pretty sight; watching them is like watching someone push a dead car down the middle of a busy street. And the sound! The sound is like driving over railroad tracks, loud and jarring, something that can be felt in the chest even as it thumps in the ears. I turned and looked at them as they bore down on us. Duncan forgot the squirrel and looked at the stampeding flock as they rushed closer and closer, their pointed pin heads perched atop their absurdly long and taut necks, those black, beady eyes the eyes of sharks. Neither of us seemed to know what to do, run or duck, so we stood dumbfounded and watched. And just as they seemed to be upon us they caught the air. I leapt behind the tree and ducked, throwing myself to my knees and raising my hands over my head as they filled the space I'd occupied only moments earlier. Forty or fifty wings splashed in the air all around us as their voices rose, a squawking discordant chorus that echoed across the park and perhaps even the golf course on the other side of that.

It was only after they'd passed the baseball fields that I looked down and saw my knee had come to rest in a nice green nugget of wet and still warm goose gunk.

Next time I'll listen and take the nap instead.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Duncan probably categorized that as the Best Walk Ever, given the wide variety of multi-species poo! Every dog's dream come true!