Friday Firesmith – Nature Calls

0400, Wednesday morning, the wildlife at Hickory Head closed in. First, an armadillo, possum on the half shell that it is, decided to make a run for the fence a second too late. Jessica Elizabeth made a rookie mistake by heading right for the armored mammal and missed. The frantic destroyer of yards and raider of gardens made good his escape. After that, the dogs did not want to come in and eat. I have a Pilates class at 0600. It takes 45 minutes to get there. We’re on the clock here, my children. 

I make it out of the house in good time, if not a little hurried. The driveway is nearly a half mile long and bordered by fences on either side. A cow pasture lies to the north, and an open field with giant live oaks to the south. Dead ahead, of course, is the paved road to my destination and path to stretching my core muscles and realizing, at this point, life is maintenance or decay. 

But life goes on, an endless cycle. Even if species go extinct, life in some form will exist, even if it’s at a level only a microscope can detect. The lesson lost on humans is how to keep themselves from dying out when the process would involve the whole world if done right. Ahead of me in the headlights are a doe and a fawn just old enough to have misplaced its spots. 

Mom Deer has led her offspring down the driveway for reasons I could not explain, and now I’m heading in their direction, and their salvation lies behind me. 

Bambi is too young and inexperienced to jump the fence. He tries, fails, and panics. He sticks his head through the fence and desperately tries to force his body through. I cut the headlights and the engine off and count to twenty. I want to give Mom and Bambi time to settle down a bit. Worse case is they get on the hardtop and into the path of a trucker running an early morning route. 

I’ve seen this before. A doe and a fawn come to a fence, and the fawn has never used its leaping ability and has to learn. That’s hard to do when danger is near, and Mom tries to push you to hurry. Years ago, a fawn trapped on my side of the fence in the front yard (the dogs stay fenced in the back) took several minutes to figure it out. Eventually, long of leg and fleet of hoof prevailed, and over the fence, the fawn sailed. 

I turn the lights back on, and Mom is standing on the other side of the fence, Bambi still milling about. Suddenly, he coils, dropping his rear end just a bit, and clears the fence splendidly. Into the darkness, they both disappear. I give them a minute to get some distance, to feel safe, and to allow calmness to return. 

As I crank up and pull away, some large night bird, an owl likely, flashes across my path, an instant in time where a feathered being is seen and then gone, giving me no time to hit the brakes or see what it was. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

12 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Nature Calls”

  1. No problem, humans die out but the Armadillo will still be here.
    You picked the perfect time of day to encounter wildlife.

  2. I leave for work at 0530, on my way I take the back roads to avoid traffic. I usually see bunnies, deer , occasional raccoons in the morning. Today as I was going to an appointment I saw a roadrunner, that is becoming more infrequent around here. It makes me sad. I also used to see a flock of wild turkeys on that road, I haven’t see them in a couple years. I actually saw a bobcat once. It saddens me that I don’t see as many wild animals as I used to. The most frequent animal I see is the worst one of all, the common asshat, driving too fast and hogging the road, leaving their refuse behind them.

  3. I remember when I was a kid, my brother was driving us somewhere (the local amusement park, I believe) when a bird flew right in front of us.

    When we got to where we were going, we discovered the bird was a blue jay–plastered to the grill of the pick up truck.

    • Tim, I once dated a woman who lived in a restrictive subdivision. They had double speed mounds that forced you to slow down to a crawl. It was a beautiful day, we had the windows down, and this blue jay landed right before us. we all heard this sort of wet crunch. I’ve never forgotten that sound.

      • The worst sound I heard just outside of my car was driving on a country road, rounded a corner, then saw frogs crossing the road. Must have been hundreds of them. I had no chance to stop.

        Even with the windows rolled up, the sound will never leave me.

        • Few months ago a cat ran out in front of me. I didn’t have time to react and heard the double thump of both passenger tires hitting the poor animals. At least it was quick.

  4. On a smaller scale, where have the fireflies (lightening bugs) gone? When I was a kid, every night during the summer, hundreds of them lit up the sky in my neighborhood. Now, I might see one or two if I’m out in a rural area.
    I also remember the time that I accidentally nailed a bird who tried to escape my oncoming car by flying above the hood. Unfortunately he did not notice the antenna. I still remember the explosion of feathers…

    • Richard, the fire flies had long since gone from south Georgia by the time I was a kid, but I went to summer camp at Eaton, and there were many. I’ve been told they are rare there now.

  5. At the age of sweet 16 – I was a new driver and had my now-sister-in-law in the passenger seat. A bird chose my car to commit birdicide. It was too fast, and there was no way I could’ve or would’ve known how to safely avoid it. We both screamed “biiiiiirrrd” as it happened. To this day – in the middle of conversation – we’ll look at each other and know the other one is going to yell “biiiirrrd”.

    • Kris, those things that happen to us when we’re first learning to drive seem to stick around longer than anything else, don’t they? I still remember my first flat tire. I was so excited. I was 16 and there I was doing adult driver stuff. I was so happy.

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