Due to the sweltering heat, I’ve gotten in the habit of doing my morning walks in the early, early part of the a.m. We’re talking pre-dawn, no other walkers or joggers out, only delivery trucks on the road early.
I kinda like it because my brain is basically a bag of silverware and steel pots, and the solitude allows me to quell the clanking and arrange my thoughts for the day. For the most part it’s quite peaceful, and I’ve grown so accustomed to my route I hardly even think about it anymore.
Well, I think about it more now.
There’s one leg of my walk that takes me past some woods and it happens to be the most poorly lit part of the trek. It never bothered me until a couple of weeks ago when I was traipsing past the trees and heard a thrashing sound just a couple of feet away.
It was startling.
I can’t remember if I shrieked an obscenity or let out a Hank Hill-style “Bwaaaaaaah!” but it scared me – enough that I feared I was about to be mauled by a bloodthirsty Chupacabra.
And now, practically every day, I hear the same sound in the same place at the same time. Even though I know it’s coming I’m still taken aback, and part of me is waiting for it to finally reveal itself.
But what, exactly, is it?
These are Alabama woods, so part of me fears it could be a deranged Civil War reenactor who is just waiting for the perfect opportunity to capture a Yankee (I’m a Birmingham native but I often wear blue and vote blue, making me a target).
If not a feral human, perhaps it’s a feral hog. These beasts – which are legendary in the Deep South – can reach enormous size and have been known to attack people without provocation.
I tend to doubt they roam the woods I frequent, though.
I live in the city and am nowhere near a farm. If it is a hog, I doubt it’s feral. It might not be fully domesticated, but I’m guessing it at least has a GED.
And really – now that I’ve heard the noise for several days and had a chance to analyze it – whatever it is probably isn’t very large. This decreases my fear of a Civil War guy or wild, angry hog.
I confess, though, that while I was walking under a full moon earlier this month, I hoped it was a werewolf. That would’ve been so cool even though it would’ve had to have been a small werewolf – perhaps a youngster. Better yet, maybe it was a runt werewolf that had been cast aside by his family.
I imagined the runt and I becoming friends, much like Wilbur and Fern in “Charlotte’s Web,” and I’d take him home to live with us and name him Mozart.
But that’s a story for another time.
Realistically, I figure this noisy critter is either a beaver, raccoon or opossum.
There’s a stream near the woods, so that would make a beaver a likely candidate. They like to eat tree bark and grass, and there is plenty available in this particular area.
And with all the tree hollows and snacklets available, it’d be a good place for a raccoon to hang. Plus, it isn’t terribly far from garbage cans, and since their nickname is “trash pandas” they might find the location perfect for their needs.
If I was an opossum, I’d probably love this particular patch of the woods. It’s quiet, secluded, and conveniently located near schools. (I don’t know if possums care about schools but they might … I truly have no idea).
Whatever it is, I’m slowly getting used to the sound and I’m not quite as freaked out about it anymore. I like to think if it was going to attack me, it would’ve done so by now and the thrashing is simply a greeting.
Hopefully one day I’ll find out what this creature is and once we see each other, we’ll have a big laugh.
Unless it’s a Chupacabra.
From what I understand, they have no sense of humor.