Sunday morning marked the end of a long week for me and the dogs managing without FD. Well, he did come home to spend Wednesday night here so that we could be up early to head a few miles down the road to enjoy Thanksgiving Day with friends. But then, that evening, he packed clean clothes and headed back out to the cabin.
FD works hard each winter to help put meat in our freezer for the coming year. I knew though, that along with the work involved in hunting, he and his friend Hoot were enjoying “roughing it” all week long, like a couple of mountain men, living off the fat of the land. When FD arrived home Wednesday night, he had the look of a young boy returning from his first camping trip. The smile on his face and update on what he and Hoot had been up to, told me he was really enjoying this outdoor sabbatical. And I knew, if I did not have these three house dogs, I would be out there with him too. Taking Zoe, Bear and Mr. T to the cabin, however, was not an option. Their long, silky coats would be matted with grass burs (not to mention those that would stick in their paws), and I would worry about predators getting after them. FD and I had already taken several day trips to fish or simply photograph the cabin area during the warmer months, and I knew that would have to suffice for the time being.
So, I was enjoying that last morning without a schedule. Normal weekdays consisted of a routine I sometimes grew tired of. Last week, with FD officially on vacation, had been leisurely. I made my own crazy hours, eating whatever time I cared to, and indulging in whatever activity I pleased. Writing and photography had been at the lead.
Sunday morning, I mulled over what I would do on my last day of being home alone. Hmm… perhaps I would go on a hike west towards the river. I fixed myself coffee and an open-faced egg sandwich for breakfast. Then, I thought to myself, before I took off hiking I would just finish baking the leftover toffee chip snickerdoodle cookie dough I had in the refrigerator. Besides, I had a bit of a sweet tooth that morning!
After eating my breakfast, I had just finished running hot dishwater in the sink when I saw movement outside of the kitchen window. Fog had settled in, leaving the landscape draped in an eerie mist, but still I spied the gray fox moving along the fence line towards the slope. Naturally, I grabbed my coat and camera and headed out the back door. I saw the fox look back as he trotted down the path to the area where I had once seen him dive into a hole. Unfortunately, he swiftly rounded the curve and vanished before I could get a good shot.
Dense fog also shrouded the trees and landscape in the nearby pecan orchard, and woodland sounds were crisp and clear in the thick air. I heard a chorus of cardinals chirping all around me, and a lone Northern Flicker’s piercing call just above me. A tiny Winter Wren flitted along, perching here and there on a brush pile. Damp leaves cushioned the sound of my feet on the woodland floor as I moved quietly along an animal trail. I wondered where Daisy deer and Spirit had gotten off to this morning? I decided to continue into the pecan orchard to try and manage a few photographs. Perhaps I would see “my girls” along the way.
Not long after I ducked under a gap in the barbed-wire fencing, I wished I had taken my cell phone along. It was never a smart thing to go off for a walk alone towards the river, especially during hunting season, and I did not even have my blaze orange headband on. Obviously, I was not thinking about a safe morning outing when I started this fox adventure! So, I decided not to go far, but simply stayed on the animal trail that runs along the fence line bordering our property.
As I hiked along the trail, I found only some heifers and a bull grazing in the distance. A few squirrels could be heard gnawing pecans. Others were scampering in the trees while detaching the nuts from a branch and letting them fall to the ground, then retrieving them later. This is a busy time of harvest for the woodland “tree rats”. With nothing else going on, I watched them for awhile and took a few photographs, hoping for a leaping, action shot, and then headed back to our property.
I soon crossed our fence and ventured back to where the fox hole was. But, alas, there was no sign of my furry friend at the den. From there, I wandered up top and around to the places I had seen Daisy and Spirit bedded down recently, but they seemed to be off somewhere else that day. By this time, the sun was beginning to peek through the fog, so I headed back to the house.
As I stepped inside, the smell of burned toast greeted me. Funny, I thought, I made toast that morning for my egg sandwich, and it was a tad dark, but I did not realize it had left such an odor in the house. Giving this no further thought, I went back to the few dishes I needed to wash… and that was when I heard the oven kick on! Oh, no!! My COOKIES!!! Slightly smoking black discs came into view as I opened the oven door. I quickly grabbed the pot holders and extracted the cookie sheet from the hot oven, then hurried out the back door in a frenzied clip! When the hot cookie sheet met the foggy, moist atmosphere, steam rose up and a slight hissing noise prevailed as I set the smoldering mass on the tile below the back porch. So much for indulging in my sweet tooth…
This is not the first time I had been side-tracked as a result of spying some kind of wildlife through the kitchen window. It is also not the first batch of cookies I have ever burned, or pot of noodles that cooked way beyond “al dente”. What is it about nature that pulls me from my duties and responsibilities, causing me to completely take leave of my senses? I suppose, at the very least, I should be thankful for our home safety measures; we do have an awesome smoke detector system and a contract with an alarm/fire security service. Fortunately, nothing too tragic happened that day. And getting rid of the physical evidence was no problem… but the acrid odor lingered for a few days and, when FD arrived home, I had to explain to him how I got sidetracked again! Oh well, C’est la vie!
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…