Tag Archives: dog

Turkey Trot Trot Trot Or How I Escaped from Wild Turkeys

Waiting
Waiting

Yesterday, on our daily walk, the dog and I turned right rather than left at the end of the driveway, and we headed up the road away from the Narrows. While I never get tired of the beauty of the Narrows, I like to vary our walks. The dog likes it, too—different smells on different walks.

Partway up the long hill that gives me so much trouble on my bike, I looked down a lane that led away from the road, and I saw turkeys. Lots of them. I had my trusty little Cannon tucked in my pocket. Could I get a picture of them before they took fright and hurried away? I decided I would try.

Taking pictures while trying to manage a dog on a leash is always a challenge, especially in the winter when gloves are also an issue, but I have pretty much mastered the process. I throw the gloves on the ground, lock the leash so that it is very short, and put the leash cartridge between my knees.

I took several pictures of the flock, which just stood there and didn’t run at all. This should have given me a clue about their lack of fear, but instead, I thought, “Can I get a little closer for a better shot?”

The flock decides
The flock decides

The dog and I inched down the lane. I took a few pictures, and then the turkeys did indeed begin to move. But rather than hurry away from us, they came toward us. They moved with purpose and assurance and didn’t show any signs of slowing down.

“Oh, no!” I thought. “Those turkeys are going to take me down.” With my creaky knees, I knew there was no chance I could outrun them. Like a deer in the headlights, I watched in awful fascination as the turkeys came closer and closer. I could just see the headlines, “Winthrop Woman felled by turkeys.”

But then something rather wonderful happened. Man’s best friend—or in this case woman’s best friend—came to the rescue. Liam growled at the approaching birds. There was just one growl, but that’s all it took. The turkeys stopped, briskly turned around, and headed the other way.

“Good boy,” I said, patting Liam’s back. He gave me look that indicated it was nothing at all, that he was just doing his job. I put my camera back in my pocket, gathered my gloves, and unlocked the leash. Liam and I continued on our walk, unthreatened by fowl or beast.

Now, I’m exaggerating the turkey threat for comic effect. I expect I would have survived a turkey assault, even though it wouldn’t have been much fun. However, it really did feel like Liam saved the day with his one growl. It made me realize, yet again, how crucial dogs have been to humans over the centuries—for herding, for protection, for keeping other animals away from the farmstead. Even now, when most dogs—at least in the U.S.—are considered pets, they can still unexpectedly show us how  important they are to our well being.

There is no doubt about it. Yesterday, Liam was dog of the day, and how good it felt to walk by his side.

Oh, noble canine
Oh, noble canine

Two Scares in the Woods

Dusk comes to the Lower Narrows
Dusk comes to the Lower Narrows

Yesterday, Liam and I went for a late afternoon walk. The January dusk was not far away, and the woods were full of shadows. Not good for taking pictures, but moody and mysterious. Because of all the rain, much of the snow was gone, and the brown leaves and needles were slippery underfoot. I was glad I had my trekking pole, especially when I went down the steep hill leading to the water.

My trusty trekking pole
My trusty trekking pole

The dog and I made it without incident to the Lower Narrows. The dog sniffed, and I took pictures, even though the light was not good.  Perhaps it was all the melting and thawing, but the Narrows was especially vocal yesterday. It gurgled, it blubbed, it cracked. One crack was so loud and thunderous that Liam jumped, ran a little ways into the woods, and barked.

I jumped, too, and then smiled, thinking about how our ancient ancestors might have thought there was a spirit making all those sounds, the spirit of the water. From there it was only a short jump to thinking about the great animator Hayao Miyazaki and his wonderful films that thrum with nature spirits—Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, to name a couple. Perhaps the spirit of the Narrows was trying to break free from the icy grip of winter?

On the dog and I went, to a little cove that was hard and frozen. The light wasn’t too bad here, and I took more pictures. As we turned to go home, I saw a dark shape moving through the clearing. “A dog,” I thought, as Liam bounded toward it.

This thought was immediately followed by, “Not a dog. A porcupine!”

“Liam!” I called frantically. “Come here, come here, come here!”

Visions of a muzzle full of porcupine quills raced through my head, and as I called, I waited for the sound of an anguished yelp as Liam got nailed. But the yelp never came. Liam bounded back to me, the porcupine hustled into the woods, and I put the leash on Liam.

As soon as my heart stopped pounding, I thought, “Darn! I wish I could have gotten a picture of that porcupine.”

Well, you can’t have everything, and I was grateful Liam came when he was called. “You saved yourself a lot of hurt,” I said to the dog as we made our way home.

Liam made no reply, and when we far enough away from the porcupine for me to feel that it was safe, I let Liam off his leash. We returned home without further incidence, and I settled on the couch with a cup of tea and a snack of graham crackers with jam. As I sipped tea and ate,  I reflected on our two scares in the woods. Beside me on the couch, the dog begged for bits of graham cracker and jam.

When we go for our walk today, I will be sure to avoid the area where we saw the porcupine.

Changed Plans: The Red Barn, the Rail Trail, and the Dairy Queen

IMG_6568Last Sunday, Clif and I had planned to ride from Hallowell to Richmond—a twenty-three-mile bike ride—but when we got up, we changed our minds. Although the day was bright and sunny, there was a very brisk wind and the temperature was about forty degrees. Too cold!

“Let’s go to Plan B,” I suggested. “How about a trip to the Red Barn, for homemade chips and fried chicken, a walk on the Rail Trail in Augusta, and then dessert at the Dairy Queen?” (Full disclosure: I love peanut buster parfaits. Fortunately, I only indulge once during the summer/fall season.)

“Sounds good to me,” Clif said, and to the Red Barn we went. The place was packed, as it always is on Sunday afternoons, and we had to drive around a bit before we found an empty space. However, the terrific staff—who are paid a living wage, I might add—were their usual cheerful, quick, and competent selves. I waited no more than five minutes for chips and chicken, cooked fresh and piping hot.

IMG_6550Because the day was sunny and involved a walk, we brought Liam, and by then it was warm enough to eat outside rather than in the car. The Red Barn is extremely pet friendly, and other people brought their dogs, too.  At first Liam was excited and yippy, but he soon settled down so that we could eat our meal with only a minimum amount of barking and disruption.

After the big meal, a walk was certainly in order, and we drove to Hallowell where we could park the car and walk a portion of the Rail Trail. In Liam’s younger days, he would zip right along, and we would go several miles. However, Liam will be ten in January, and nowadays he likes to amble and sniff. Clif and I don’t mind. When we take the dog for a walk, we are doing it for him, not for exercise for us, and we let him take his time.

On the trail, I met Denis Ledoux, a writer who is in the Franco-American artists group I belong to. It was a bit of a surprise to see him out of context, so to speak, as he lives a fair distance from Augusta. He had come to visit a friend, and they were walking the trail together. Denis and I talked about what many Francos talk about when they get together—cleaning the house, garage, and yard.

As I’ve written before, Francos have a zeal for cleanliness and order that borders on fanaticism, and it is one of our big topics of discussion.  There are, of course,  individual Francos who buck this tradition, but even so, cleaning the house usually hangs heavy over their heads. It’s a rare Franco, male or female, who breaks free from the grip of cleaning the house.

We also talked a bit about writing and the goings-on within the Franco Artists Group, one of the best groups I have ever belonged to. So many talented writers, artists, and performers in this group.

After saying goodbye to Denis, we continued on for a little longer. Asters and thistles were in bloom, giving modest bursts of color to the fall landscape. The wind had stopped blowing, and it was so warm that I had to take off my jacket.

IMG_6565

“We could have gone on that bike ride,” I said.

“I know,” Clif replied.

Ah, well! We had made our decision. After the walk,  it was on to the Dairy Queen, where everyone had ice cream, even the dog. As the young woman made up Liam’s doggy ice cream, she said, “When you make a dog a treat, it should be a real treat,” and she studded his ice cream with four dog biscuits.

After we finished our ice cream, it was late afternoon, with plenty of daylight left. On the way home, I said to Clif, “Let’s go for a short bike ride along Memorial Drive.”

And so we did, sliding the bike ride into a day filled with good food, sun, the dog, a walk, and an unexpected meeting.