This morning I woke up with a vague feeling that bears mattered. I couldn’t put my finger on the bear thing; it simply faded. As I took the dog on its morning walk I noticed half eaten carrots on the ground. Bears had been eating carrots in the yard? My mind drew a blank. Mrs. Curmudgeon reminded me and now I remember the whole story.
It was 4:00 am when the quasi-sentient alarm system (dog) went off.
“bark… bark… bark…”
This means there might be a deer in the yard, or a squirrel, or it’s Tuesday. I ignored it.
The tone changed: “Bark… Bark… Bark…”
Hmm… now the tone was in the range of “things that might possibly matter”. Possibly a skunk in the chicken coop?
I sniffed the air. No skunk. I don’t like the chickens anyway. I rolled over. Mrs. Curmudgeon got up to investigate.
I heard Mrs. Curmudgeon exclaim “Oh my!” Judging from her tone it was something unusual but not threatening. “Unusual” rules out chicken predators and deer. “Not threatening” means the Gambino family and/or the IRS aren’t stacking up at the door for a home invasion. Also I didn’t hear any engines. This is always reassuring. (I’ve grown to understand that very few Americans can get anywhere without an engine. My driveway is longer than most people, including all but the most motivated criminals and/or zombies, will walk.) No engines means no people. No people means (usually) no problems.
I decided it must be a bear. That would be unusual but not threatening. “Is it a bear?” I mumbled? It seemed a bit late in the season for a non-hibernating bear but my sleep addled brain fixed on the theory. Could this be an opportunity? I don’t bear hunt but I often possess a bear tag (on the logic that a valid hunting tag is the very best bear repellent). Could I go out there and pop it? Bears taste good. Of course it was dark… plus I have no idea if they’re in season right now. Anyway I forgot to get my bear tag this year. Damn! A missed opportunity. I started to drift off.
Mrs. Curmudgeon said something. I interpreted it as “asdh dkjhfs nerweeh djfhkjsfnssd dasdhkjh“. I was tired.
The dog’s tone changed again: “BARK BARK BARK!” This I interpret as “You have threatened territorial integrity and I will destroy you!” Good dog! Curmudgeon Compound, unlike America and Europe, takes borders seriously.
I rolled out of bed. If the dog wanted something dead it was time for me to assess the situation and (if needed) make it dead.
“It’s checking out the chicken feed in the back of the truck…” Mrs. Curmudgeon added.
My truck?!? If a bear was in my truck bed it would play hell on the paint job. One bear rug coming up! I grabbed the shotgun and strode toward the door. Before I could get there the dog went ape: “BARKBARKBARK!” In dog language it meant “RAGNAROK HAS BEGUN!” The dog slammed into the front door and let out an even more intense war cry that would send shivers up anybody’s spine and pushed me to DEFCON III. Mrs. Curmudgeon giggled. (In retrospect this should have been a hint.)
I shoved the enraged dog out of the way and peered through the door’s window. Nothing…
The dog was pacing back and forth begging to be unleashed on whatever was out there. Yet I saw nothing. Stupid bear was long gone.
Then, head high, and six inches from my face; separated only by a pane of glass it appeared! Bigger than me! Taller than me! Big square teeth grinning at me!
It was a horse.
The dog went berserk and got between me and the window again. I let out a huge sigh and unloaded the shotgun. Mrs. Curmudgeon stood patiently behind me; clutching a handful of old carrots. The horse, unimpressed by our enraged dog, sniffed the window and steamed up the glass. It took a while to get the dog calmed down and in the kennel. The dog was not only willing but eager to attack something ten times its size. Good dog!
I decided the horse wasn’t going to scratch my truck and it seemed in fine health so I went back to bed. I’m more than willing to fight the zombie horde in the middle of a dark night (and my dog would join me) but some dumb horse ‘aint sufficient motivation to wander around in the snow. Mrs. Curmudgeon went out there and gave the horse a few carrots. By sunrise the horse was long gone and I’d forgotten all about it.
Even now I have no idea where the horse came from, where it went, or what it was doing in the yard. I assume it’s the duck’s fault.