Saturday, January 28, 2006

In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

By: L.A. Kohl
January 5, 2006
(published in the Wed., Jan. 25, 2006 edition of the "Bullseye")

I think I can say that I like animals as much as the next person. I doubt if I can classify myself as a bona fide “animal lover” – although I used to be. As a child, I had about every kind of pet that I could find, or afford. In other words, ones that cost little or nothing. I had some of the normal things: cats, dogs, a hamster; and then some of the not so normal things: ants, baby crawdads and a turtle.

Nowadays, I’d classify myself as more of an “animal tolerater." I tolerate the cockatiel, hamster, cats, and miniature horses. I do really like our dog, and would hate to lose him – but all the rest of the menagerie I just co-exist with because my children want them.

What I can not explain is somehow along the way from “animal lover” to “animal tolerater”...I became an accidental animal murderer.

Ooo – sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I never intentionally set out to kill anything. Unfortunately, the animals just seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Luckily for the animal kingdom, it’s only happened a few times.

One of the first accidental annihilations happened shortly after we moved to our small acreage north of Harrisburg. I was really getting into the “natural” way of landscaping and gardening. I liked to transplant things from our woods or creek bottom up to the yard. This particular time I was digging up a gooseberry bush (crazy, I know.) I pounced on my spade a couple of times, and then pried up a little in the loosened area. That’s when I saw it...a snake. Not just any snake – I was sure it was poisonous. I have never again run so quickly up the hill towards our house. Nate went to investigate, and sure enough, it was a copperhead, and sure enough, I had unwittingly spliced it into a couple of different pieces. Believe you me; I felt no remorse over that one.

The next strange incident was a road-kill accident. I know – most people have mistakenly killed some animal that darted out in front of them...usually a dog, cat, deer, or rodent. Not me. I collided with a mallard duck. It came flying at me from out of nowhere. (It occurred to me a few moments later that it may have been a Kamikaze duck.) I know lots of hunters spend many a cold, damp hour sitting in duck blinds, waiting patiently to find an illusive duck. For me, it took a split second and “thunk” - I had my duck without even trying.

The last one was the strangest of all. A few years ago I was helping my husband survey a couple of farm fields that a developer wanted to turn into a subdivision. A wide ditch lay between the two fields... rather swampy, and overgrown with grass and weeds. It was too wide for me to jump, but I jumped as far as I could, because I’m not very brave when it comes to strolling through dense, swampy areas. When my foot came down, a terrible noise burst forth from beneath me. I scrambled the rest of the way out of the ditch, then turned around to catch a glimpse of a bunny rabbit squealing (I didn’t know they did that) and convulsing in the weeds – then everything went quiet. Ah man, I couldn’t believe it. Only I could manage to jump a ditch and land squarely on top of the only bunny probably within several hundred yards. When we told the kids about it later, one of them said, “MOM! You killed a cute little rabbit???”
Nate’s reply was, “Well, either that, or he’s now a quadriplegic, riding around in his little bunny wheelchair.”

All I know is, to this day I can’t stick a spade in the ground or hop a ditch without hesitating just a little bit; wondering what my next victim may be.

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