Friday, February 1, 2008
We have been living out here in the country, well off the beaten path going on three years now. Until we had actually moved in, we had never spent a night here. We had met a couple of our neighbors, there aren't that many of them, really. We have just over four acres and two of those acres are in trees. Not the kind of trees you would sell to make a profit, just plain old trees. A nice mixture of oak, pine, sycamore some birch, nothing to write home about, but awfully pretty when in full leaf (or needle) and in the fall the colors are so vibrant you'd think the woods were afire. Our place sits with woods on nearly three sides, so we are pretty much enclosed in our space. The most wooded area lies directly behind the house. We have a night light out to the side provided (for a charge of course) by Lynches River Co-Op Electric. Like I said, we had never spent the night out here before, so naturally assumed the night light worked to expectations. Our neighbors had all told us about the coyote population in Jefferson, that there were quite a few of them and when they weren't hunting for food, they killed cats. I have always said that I pitied the poor coyote, who much like the Native American, had had his habitat completely wiped out from under his feet...or paws, what have you. It seemed unfair for us not to set aside land for the displaced, be they people or animals. I once saw a Disney movie about a coyote in a concrete jungle...do you remember that? Wasn't his name Charlie? So anyway, when we bought the place we hired a contractor to renovate the house inside and out and it took a few weeks before we could actually move in. Moving day was a busy one and our two sons and my older son's wife helped us move in. It was a two day job to just get our belongings in and one bed set up. Here we came with our blind Lab mix, Mindy and our three cats. We had to go back for the outdoor cats, who were not at all happy over being loaded in that cage and released in a strange place. I tried to explain to them that there was no highway of death here, where we had lost several of the siblings. Lots of trees to climb and woods to explore. Not convinced, at least two of them tried to make their way back to the old homeplace. They finally got tired of me running them down and bringing them back. The first thing I noticed after the move was that the night light we were paying to light up the yard at night, didn't work very well. The night I discovered it was the night that I found out there are things I am scared of. It's the things you can't see while you stand at the edge of a dark wood when the night light goes out. As I have mentioned before, Mindy (who has been blind since puppyhood) has a fanclub of cats. They all love her. Even the cats who already lived here when we moved here, love her. They follow her around the yard and to the woods and rub on her and call to her. We've decided they're her seeing eye cats, because if she gets lost down in the wood line, the cats go get her. Very weird. I understand about HER cats, she raised them...they are hers...but the cats who were abandoned here also love her. So this one night about a week after we had moved in, I walked with Mindy and her mob of cats down to the woods. Suddenly, the night light went out. Everyone came to a stand still, I began working my way back to the front porch where there was light. I still had a pronounced limp and had to use a cane to get about (from the neck fracture) so I wanted to be able to yell for Mac if I needed help. I was watching Mindy and the Mob when they all suddenly stopped still. They were looking towards the woods. It was almost as if one of the cats yelled "RUN!". They all turned as one and began running towards the house...now when a blind dog and six cats can beat you back to the porch while you're still standing staring at the woods for whatever might be coming out, you're in trouble. I hadn't moved that fast since...well, I can't remember how long it had been since I had moved that fast...and when I say fast, picture a turtle. My heart was pounding and my voice was gone. I was put in mind of a film John Candy was in, The Great Outdoors. He ran back to the cabin and stood at the opened door screaming in this small tight little out of breath voice "bear" hhhhh "big bear" hhhhhh "big bear chase me" hhhh....that was about the condition I was in when Mac appeared miraculously at my side. We never did see what had so alarmed the furbies, but the howl of something I'd never heard before was still ringing in my ears. And it didn't sound like a Disney character. Oh, I take Mindy out for a romp at night, but I stand at the end of the porch with a flashlight in one hand and a gun in the other. And Lynches River Co-Op and I have a deal...I change the light bulbs on the inside, they change the ones in the nightlight.