Crime Sprees, Black Snakes, and Killer Birds

 

Pondering the meaning of life,  why nature can be so cruel, and the evil of man began with the theft of a trailer and continued with the murder of four wren hatchlings we had been monitoring in their little nest perched precariously above the front porch fan.  Four wren hatchlings we had been protecting from attacks from below when we should have been more concerned with attacks from above.

I find I’m much more distraught about the loss of four birds than the pilfering of my trailer.

I watched as a  juvenile black rat snake climbed the front porch swing chain looking for a way to traverse from chain to fan to what his reptilian brain saw as lunch.  I moved him…and later, the big brother he brought with him a half dozen times before my minuscule brain realized that if I took down the swing, he’d have to find another restaurant.

Sneaky snake must have enjoyed our time together.  He still hangs around as if waiting for me to pick him up again.  Ride me, Daddy?

It didn’t bother me the snake was trying to dine on jeune oiseau…after all, he was a snake doing what snakes do.  More importantly, I had stopped him.  The killer birds…I didn’t know I needed to stop them.

I never knew sparrow parents would attack wren young and kill them to ensure there is a steady food source for their young.  They must be new to the neighborhood.  There is no lack of food sources.  My wife has made sure of that.

I saw them hanging or flying around but was too stupid to realize they were up to no good.  We found the little broken and pecked bodies on the porch floor and with their distraught parents flitting about, felt their loss. 

I am telling myself, it is the way of nature.  I haven’t convinced myself.

And then there are the evils of man.  The trailer was just one of several grand heists over the years.    Bad people are found everywhere…and bad birds too.

The thefts began with a tractor stolen from the middle of my “hundred-acre woods.”  I ran out of fuel and didn’t return to where I had left it, literally in the middle of my forest, until a couple of days later.  I couldn’t find the John Deere and Winnie the Pooh wouldn’t help me look.  I guess Winnie was trying to get his nose out of his honey jar.  My nose was just out of joint.

An antique FJ 40 Landcruiser was taken from my front yard.  It was returned much the worse from wear.   A beautiful piece of Japanese engineering turned into junk.  The one time it ran after its return, “Kamikaze Cruiser” caught fire.  I hope the thief joins my beloved cruiser and burns in hell…well…metaphorically, I reckon…may be.

Not that everything has been “take, take, take.”  A would be Robin Hood decided to share the wealth.  A stolen pickup truck with two weeks worth of trash loaded in it, missed the curve at a high rate of speed, flipped and crashed into my creek.  It was laying on it’s top mocking a dead cockroach, two weeks of trash scattered hither and yon.  The old Ford had taken down my fence and my billy goat stood on top of the truck’s bottom as if he had ruled triumphant in a game of king of the hill.

I felt satisfaction when I learned of the malefactor’s capture, a young man found battered and bruised at a nearby restaurant frequented by our local constabulary.  I doubt the owner of the totaled truck got any satisfaction and I was left to clean up the mess that was left and mend my own fences.

There were other occasions to call the authorities.  Enough occasions to put together a pattern.  Every deputy who came out to investigate uttered the same family name.  “I’ll bet you  ‘Old so-and-so’ is responsible.”  “Old so-and-so just got out of jail, bet he’s at it again.”

I’m not going to say the name because I really don’t know if they stole my trailer or not.  If they didn’t it would be a first.  True to form though, as I met the deputy about my trailer, he brought up the same name again.  “You live pretty near Old so-and-so.  Bet it was him or one of his sons.”  Now grandsons.

I still haven’t seen my trailer, but the backcountry crime family tried to strike again.  This time it was my neighbor.  I slept through most of the event despite the blue and red lights flooding my yard at one until three A.M.  My neighbor filled me in.

A young man with the same last name as the redneck crime lord, a grandchild, was apprehended attempting to steal my neighbor’s travel trailer with a truck the boy had stolen earlier and elsewhere.  He even posed for a picture before attempting to flee after he realized no one wanted his autograph.

Attempting to escape in the stolen truck the clown prince of crime found himself reduced to running when the vehicle broke down at the scene and caught fire.  Poor baby.  He was later found hiding in a kudzu filled ditch…kudzu covering blackberry filled ditch.

I wish I had seen his dismay when he dove face first into the ditch only to find his soft landing impeded by blackberry thorns.  That had to smart…I wish it had been multiflora rose.  I do feel great satisfaction envisioning his surprise landing and ask for no forgiveness as I smile.

It seems the torch has been passed from one generation to another.  Grandfather to son to grandchild.  I wonder if the godfather of redneck crime is proud.  The old man showed up and according to my neighbor, just shook his head as if to say, “I thought I taught him better than that.”

My father told me once he could tolerate a thief more than a liar.  The reasons for his comment will remain between my father and me but I was in the wrong.  I understand his sentiment but would pose to him, “One might go hand in hand with the other.”

The image of the angry bird is from https://twistedsifter.com/2012/04/40-actual-real-life-angry-looking-birds/

Further tomfoolery may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

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Not Pioneering Stock

 

I am not pioneering stock.  My prayers were not answered.  My satellite went out at two and my power followed at five…in the AM.  It’s seven seventeen and it already seems like a lifetime.  Too much time stuck inside my head with nothing to distract me is the main problem.  At least the morning is brightening…a gray light, but at least I can see without a flashlight.

There is a beautiful winter scene outside my window…hemlocks and cedars laden with snow, their fronds drooping toward the ground.  There is an underlying silence, the sounds muffled by the snow…until a tree snaps under the extra weight of snow, sleet, and ice.  It sounds as if a war is being fought on the ridgeline above us.

It is eight oh two and the “Snowpocalypse” is upon us.  There is nothing to do but wait.  A cheery fire in the fireplace…cheery but not near warm enough.  A cast iron Dutch oven is heating water.  Cheese grits are on the menu…instant cheese grits.  Uck!  At least my coffee had perked before the power went off.

Stepping outside to bring in the wood I heard the winds on the ridges above us.  The sound of an old steam locomotive running at top speed…without the steam whistle of course.  Just a rapid chugga-chugga sound I associate with old movies I watched in my youth.  So far, we have been sheltered from the wind, but I see movement in the cypress cedar just beyond my backyard fence.

The snow, flakes once large and wet, have now changed over to sleet.  I can see my clothesline and it is covered with ice…much ice.  This does not bode well for trees or powerlines I would think.  My hothouse is without power and I worry about Linda’s plants…particularly her thirty-year-old scheffleras.  Worry…but there is not a damn thing I can do about it except feel her pain if they die.

Old poots like me are always talking about the good old days and how much better it was back then.  I wonder?  I surely wonder about the good old days the former tenants of my little piece of heaven had.  Three different sets of families left their imprints and memories before we began to add ours.  I wish their ghosts would speak to me.  I have many questions like, “How did you keep those fireplaces fed?”

Built in 1892, the old farmhouse had five fireplaces.  I am only trying to keep one burning and maybe later an old wood stove to cook on if necessary.  I can’t imagine…don’t want to imagine what it was like feeding four open fireplaces and the wood stove pumping smoke out smoke one end and heat from the other.

No, I’m not sure about those good old days especially as I look at the expanse of white between my house and the old privy.  A book comes to mind, “Ten Miles to the Outhouse,” by Willie Makeit and illustrated by Betty Don’t.  I think the cold is addling my brain…or the Jack and Coke.  Five o’clock in the PM and we still have no power, but we have seen power trucks on the move…and the power flickered once…dashed hopes in the blink of an eye.

I’ve also seen turkeys on the move.  A dozen or so all puffed up against the cold.  They look comical taking high steps trying to navigate the now five or so inches of hard packed sleet, freezing rain, and snow.  Thankfully the temperature is now hovering above freezing and it is now more snow than sleet.

The wind is still up.  Trees are popping all around.  Cannon reports in the distance.  Even if the power comes on soon there is no assurance that it will stay on, but I’ll take what I can get…damn!  A hemlock limb just hit the fence.

Light, heat, and water have returned.  At six PM the lights flickered and then held.  There was the welcome sound of air handlers kicking in and the feel of warm air.  Quick microwave something warm to eat.

This is not the worse “storm” we’ve ridden out.  Our first winter was in 1987-88 and in January we lay buried under eighteen inches…for those of you above the Mason-Dixon, that’s like you getting eighteen feet.  We were in complete shutdown mode for a week with only a VW Beetle and a Thunderbird to motivate with.  I swore I would never be without four-wheel drive again.  I think I’ve HAD to use it once since then.  An ice storm with a hurricane came through in ’93 but the four-wheel drive doesn’t work on ice.  I’ve used my four-wheel drive a lot but not because the weather dictated it.

No, I’m not pioneering stock.  There was once a time.  Now I have grown old and lazy…and hate the cold.  I think my next acquisition will be a generator.  Hopefully, I won’t need it any more than I have needed four-wheel drive.