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20 October, 2015

Don't Mess With Mother Nature

       
            When I was a kid, I was totally unafraid of any wild animal, until ...

              The days in my wonderful childhood were spent roaming the woods. They surrounded our home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.  I lived in what could have been called a “remote area.”  We were encompassed by the deep green forests of the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Asheville. 

               On one side of our four story duplex home were the VA Hospital and grounds, our staff houses and apartments, and the 2 student nurses residential buildings.  They were nestled within vast manicured lawns, groups of tall swaying pines, cultivated fruit trees, immaculate flower gardens, and one small burg with a single stoplight, just a quarter mile away.  It was my childhood home.  It was paradise.


            On the other side, out back of our garages, stretched the rolling, unexplored mountains and the thickly forested Blue Ridge.  It was my escape from life.

             There was wildlife everywhere there.  Deer, foxes, raccoons, bears, rabbits, all of them lived just outside our doors. 


            We fought the bears for years over their garbage can raids.  Perfect for a part Native American Indian girl who happened to be a tomboy.  Me.
  
            I discovered at an early age that I could get really close to whatever I was stalking.  Every hour that I was not in school or confined to the house, I was out exploring, climbing trees, looking for the “wild things.”   

           It was my passion.  Inevitably I would bring home some live critter, which terrified my poor mother.   I always hid my catches in my bedroom closet. 


          Rabbits, snakes, turtles, baby birds, rodents,  and even lizards got "trucked" home.  The one that didn’t make it was a baby fox, but I tried.  I honestly tried to get a fox in there.

          Funny how my Mom would not let me keep a one of them.   I was like Rama in the book Green Mansions.  My folks never knew when I’d come home and with WHAT!  It scared both of them.  Constantly.  No amount of scoldings, spankings could deter me.  No amount of timeouts, TV watching suspensions, or groundings could slow me down.  You have to say I was dedicated.


Me with my only pet as a child, Spot Hinds.  This was my tomboy age.

                                         About that baby fox. 

                       It was one of several I found in a den under an old quonset hut near the nurse’s quarters.   The residential buildings were up the block from where we lived.   

                   The VA Post workers had constructed some Quonset huts from WW ll for the nurses there,  in which to party, congregate and study.   These buildings were frequently unoccupied and later abandoned. 

               The deep woods bordered them and I was always up there exploring the area.   My hangout, kind of.  One of many. I was on the lookout for more critters to bring home.


               One bright day, I saw this flash of red in the woods.   I stopped to look.  There was a female fox going in and out of a small opening under the quonset hut building. This sat on the very edge of the deep woods.  This fat red fox had kits!!  I could hear their cries.

             Unable to resist, I waited till she left and peeked in.  Five furry, cute baby foxes mewed and milled around in there.  They didn’t even have their eyes open.
 
            Well, I was hooked. 

             I began bringing sandwich meat, leftover roast pieces, and whatever I could smuggle out of the fridge, leaving it for her.  Pretty soon she was not afraid of me.  I was her meal ticket.


             One day I found her gone.  I reached in and grabbed a baby fox!  I had a plan: I would smuggle the fox kit into my closet, as usual.  


             My heart thumped with anticipation and the fox kit squirmed and squealed.

            But one unseen observer of my actions,  gave me away.  A student nurse, walking to her parking garage nearby, had seen me going in and out of the woods.  She had spied on me.  (Everybody knew WHO I was. “The Colonel’s mischievious young daughter”.)  She ratted on me to my Dad.  It just happend that he was the “man,” Chief Engineer of the whole VA.
 
            It was his job to stop fiends like me.  He was not happy to hear what I was up to. He got a lot of complaints and reports about me. This was a duezzy!

Dad did have a sense of humor. Here he is in his golf hat.
               Next thing I know, some of the Post Firemen came roaring in their rig, dressed in full gear!  They snatched my baby fox! This poor little thing,  they stuffed in a canvas bag.


              They even had axes!   To that bag, they added the rest of the fox kits. 

              I wailed hysterically and protested, trying to save the poor little things. I let loose my considerable vocabulary of cuss words! One fellow just stared at me for seconds, shook his head,  grinned,  and kept right on working.

                      Then MY DAD showed up...
 
                                  From him I got THE LOOK.  


                   I was promptly bum-rushed into his car (before I could spew more cuss words) and rushed home, then sent to my room.  I have never seen him so angry at me.  
                   His spy network was functioning just FINE.   Getting calls at work because of ME, made him very grumpy.  It happened way too often.  He had bigger fish than my problems to deal with and I was interrupting something important.  It was an embarrassment to him that I was always in trouble.  


                  I knew a spanking was waiting for his homecoming that night.

                 It wasn’t a normal day if I didn’t get spanked.  I got that one right!
                I wish this story had a happy ending.   It didn’t for the foxes.  Every wild thing had “rabies” according to grownups in those days.   They simply “had to go”.    I never knew exactly what happened to the babies, but they disappeared.  They set a trap for the mom, too.  

                   She must have been hysterical, if fox moms can be hysterical.   I don’t know if they caught her.  I didn’t WANT to know.  I mourned for weeks and left wildflower blooms for her, the kits, at the location of the den.  Dad had the men seal the hole with heavy wire.

                  Never again did I see any foxes in those woods.  That didn't keep me from finding danger.  When I looked for critters, sometimes it found ME.

                Exploring in the deep woods, a year later, I found this amazing, ancient pine tree.   It had boughs that reached down to the very ground.  This structure was making a great “hiding cave” under those branches, just for me.  From that location I could watch deer walking by and never be detected.  

             I was in the process of climbing under the deep branches along the ground to explore my new discovery, when I found someone had beat me there.  A sleeping black BEAR!


                   That was one moment that struck fear in my heart instantly. 

                Why then and not later on (when I was exceeding insanity)  by trying to feed a small black bear?  I don’t know.   Maybe my internal warning system went off.  I backed quietly, SLOWLY out of there. 


               The bear opened one eye.   My breath stopped.  He huffed, but went on snoozing.  I think I swallowed a kidney! 


             I beat a hasty retreat in the opposite direction and never returned to that tree.

Looking totally innocent in my Easter outfit I could fool anybody.

              Stupidity grows.  It ages like fine wine.  For some people.  

      For ME, for sure…  I continued to get into more trouble with every year I grew.

                    Even when I grew up, and had kids, I was stupid about animals.
More catastrophes were ahead of me.

                                         THAT was for sure!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Melinda, Loved this, it is totally awesome!! Sam

    ReplyDelete