Greetings to all of my followers,
I decided that, before the month ends, I should at least post something new for those of you who have read my current scribblings to your heart's content. This is a tidy piece of prose written after Bruce, my husband, and I went for a hike in the Pocono Mts. Enjoy; it is all true, including the quotations from our conversations - which were brief as Bruce conducted his research through the realms of, yes, poop.
Poop is Offal
My husband, Bruce, and I both enjoy hiking. He likes to look around and observe nature as we move through State Game Lands. I like to push my body into turbo, moving as fast and as far as possible. Our differing styles would surely remain, but they would be greatly mitigated if I weren't so myopic. I don't readily notice that deer in the woods; or see how the bark of this tree differs from the bark of another. Bruce loves to notice all those things and more.
From such perspectives, Bruce and I set out one day for a hike in Pennsylvania's State Game Land. On such trips Bruce always takes the lead while I follow behind. This prevents me from running into trees, tripping over boulders or walking off a cliff. Bruce tries to move at a pace that will satisfy both of us. My heart rate can climb a bit; and he can stop to smell his roses. Trouble is we don't often want to smell the same scent...especially if it's offal.
You see, we are following the paw prints of two bobcats. On an earlier hike Bruce had found their den. I am excited to see this den; I want to hike at a pace faster than would permit the observation of animal poop. But Bruce relishes the opportunity to impart a nature lesson to a captive audience.
"Deer have been running through here. There's their trail," Bruce says with appropriate solemnity. "There is a pile of their poop! Goodness, look how big that pile is! These are pretty big deer tracks. If this wasn't a buck, it was an awfully big doe." Bruce says this with the greatest of glee.
At suitable moments I acknowledge his comments with a few little grunts and just continue moving along.
"Oop, wait a minute. These tracks here don't look like fox. They may be the tracks of our bobcats, but the prints are too old for me to tell. Hmmm, just a minute, here's some poop."
Picking up a stick, Bruce bends down and closely examines the little turds. Poking at the soft little nugget, he comments. "These are guts. Oh, and here is some fur. Could be rabbit hair. Here is the blood."
How charming. Bruce gives his undivided attention to solving this puzzle. Meanwhile, I enjoy the blue sky, the unseasonably warm February air and the blurry view of trees. I don't particularly care to examine the poop.
With a frown he concludes his investigation by observing some spots of blood a short distance from the turds. "Look, those are spots of fresh blood. Whatever it was that made these tracks killed something and was dragging it away. Maybe to feed its young."
To indicate that I have been paying attention, I proudly sum it up. "So, in other words, this spot has been the scene of a meal in and a meal out."
Absently Bruce replies, "Yeah, something like that."
We continue up the mountain. "Look the same animal drug a mole away. See the paw prints leading to that little hole in the snow?" Bruce asks, knowing he is onto something.
"Uh huh," I respond, giving the little hole a quick glance and return my eyes to the muzzy trail.
"Look here, Caryn. You can see where the Laurel has its growth spurt. The turkey will eat this part of the stem, and here you can see the plant's growth." Using his fingers to indicate an approximate space, he continues, "It grows about this much per season."
I arrange my features into something resembling great respect for the Laurel bush.
We move on a pace. "Look there! Turkey poop!"
In a tone of voice nothing like enthusiasm, I reply, "Fascinating."
Bruce's head spins my direction. "You didn't even look!" He accuses.
"Yes I did. It was back there on those leaves - little white dots of turd," I defend my honor. Bruce is satisfied.
Further along we find some paw prints of the bobcats. They are more recent and easily identified. "Look Bruce. There is another spot of blood." I am so pleased he missed it and I saw it.
"Yep, sure is Babes," Bruce awards me with a nod of respect. "You saw that one all on your own."
At the top of the mountain, Bruce recognizes the area and knows we are in the vicinity of the bobcat's den. The big cat’s prints mark the snow in every direction. We can see where the cat has chased a snow shoe rabbit. The poor little rabbit's prints give evidence of its horrifying escape.
Bruce shows me some Laurel leaves the rabbit has broken from the bush and nibbled on, leaving behind the remaining leaves for another meal. I am so relieved that the hair Bruce found in that first pile of poop didn't belong to this particular rabbit.
Bruce descends down a steep slope toward the spot where he found the bobcat’s den. Much to our disappointment, a tree has fallen over the burrow. We spend a few minutes enjoying the view. I can see a lovely entrancing blur of naked trees. The sky above us is simply spectacular. The white, downy clouds are hanging so low a child might have tried to reach up and touch them.
Bruce and I turn around and head home by a different route. Oh no. Will there be different piles of poop to examine? On our homeward walk we see the paw prints of a fox. Bruce points them out to me. I acknowledge them with my customary grunt. How awful, we lucked out on its offal.