Things That Go Screech in the Night

Today is National Wine Day, and I have nothing to drink. Engaged in a new daily blogging discipline, I realized the day had almost gotten beyond me, and I called a friend.

“Hey, can we check in in awhile?” I asked. “I’m afraid I’m going to blow my goal.”

This would be bad. It’s only Day Three. How hard is it to write something if your sole purpose in writing is to get over yourself and just do it?

We agreed to check in in about an hour. I figured I’d write something quickly and drive into town and buy a small half bottle of local wine, enough for a glass and a late night check in on Tristram Shandy (formerly known as “Steve”) a turkey given to me today as a pet by a friend who is rehoming part of his flock.

Tristram Shandy AKA Steve on the left

Tristram is gorgeous but timid as of yet, and the ducks and chickens are pissed off, as if RuPaul in turkey form had knocked them from the best of the perch. The coop is full of evening grumblings, shufflings, and tuttings. Tristram is as yet still afraid to nibble at the corn I gave him. He’ll be captive in the coop for six weeks until he has homed to it, after which he will be joined by his wife. She follows him to the car fearless and forlorn. I’m reminded of Schindler’s List but can’t assure her he will be safe.

They say the wife is the last to know. Lucy-Lou makes inquiries at my van.

Even our resident crow–whom I’ve been attempting to befriend–seems a little irked by the new arrival as if to say, “Hey, I just picked the coop roof clean of the dried pasta, peanuts, cheddar, and chicken breast you threw up there. I thought I was your primary scavenger.”

I reloaded that roof this afternoon with fresh offerings, a hard boiled egg, some seeded bread, and more peanuts, listening to the quiet cawing of approval from the trees acknowledging my tribute. My camera is in position hidden between the bendable slats of the Venetian blinds, trained on the roof in hope of better crow shots.

Crows love Cheetos too

The frogs on the pond are so loud tonight I’m surprised I heard anything else. In fact, I went outside to record their sound, pointing my phone into the night only to pull it away, light blind and unable to see for a few seconds after I lowered it from my eyes. I realize were a mountain lion out here hunting, I’d be a goner.

Large, soft raindrops plop on the tar and gravel roof, pinging randomly across the broad surface. Suddenly, a loud screech breaks the pond chorus and I run to the front door to listen, opening the door quickly and pushing aside the screen. The screeching continues, not an owl, but its victim.

The first time I heard an owl hunting, I was only aware something was about to happen because of the sound of desperate, pattering footsteps rushing through the dry grass outside my window, running from some unseen threat. It ended with a loud thump, an anguished squeal, the sounds of struggle, of a swift end, and then of something large landing in the trees. The wings themselves were perfectly silent, as if the hand of God had dealt swift fate to a rabbit or cat or skunk.

Tonight’s squealing was over quickly, before I had the door open. I strained to hear in the field where it had come from, my left ear confused by the unrelenting pond chorus, my right ear expectant. The meadow is silent quiet, unnaturally so, as if holding its collective breath to avoid detection of a crime. I’m reminded of the streets of Dickensian London, the dangers of the dark, and I am alone here for the first time in years without so much as a dog to comfort me. The walk to my car is at least thirty feet. I’ve forgotten to learn how to use my taser.

The pond falls silent for a moment and I have no idea why. Is something out there? The roof continues to peep as the warm air of the house rises up to meet it, and suddenly, the pond comes alive again with sound in air so moist the flashlight’s beam shows thousands of dancing particles of moisture against the watery moonlight. I hear the crack of a branch and think of My Friend Totoro who was found on a night like this and think, I’ll have a margarita instead.

7 Replies to “Things That Go Screech in the Night”

  1. Can I just tell you how happy I am you are blogging daily? I loved being at the ranch vicariously via your words. You have such an eye (and EAR) for details. Welcome to your tutlrkeys. You have a CROW? The menagerie grows..

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