We Need To Talk

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Listen we need to talk. It’s about this clock thing, the setting it back an hour that you guys do every year when it starts to get cold. I know I’ve heard some humans talking about it as they walk by. How it makes it dark at 3:30 in the afternoon and it’s still dark when you get up in the morning. It really causes us a problem. See it doesn’t matter to us what your clock says. We get up when it’s light and we go to bed when its dark. It’s an agrarian thing. Unless of course we ‘ve been eaten by something during the night, then all bets are off.

I’ve got kids, three of them. Solenoid, Nodule and Edna, the triplets. Yeah I know, I was lucky, but even so that’s the last time I’m going out with that smooth talking buck from Loveland. The point is though, they’re all just one year old and don’t have the brains god gave a toaster, but they’re good kids. The problem is now that it’s night way early for you folks, you’re driving in the dark earlier, the visibility is dorked, and my goofy half-witted kids are standing on the side of the road, in the road, in the ditch ready to dart out whenever a synapse fires in their tiny little brains and you’re tooling along thinking about dinner or whatever and there’s my little ones in your lights.

Yes, the obvious answer is “Hey! don’t stand in the road.” There is an answer for that and it’s a function of what makes us Mule deer. We’re prey animals. We exist to feed other animals up the food chain. Cougars, they’re the really mean ones, Wolves, not too big a problem unless you live in Yellowstone, Wild dogs, a problem anywhere, and unfortunately you guys. Yes I know, you don’t start home with the idea of hunting and killing us, or even hitting us for that matter. Many of you don’t want to, just because of issues with your insurance companies. But because we are prey animals the safest places at night or the edge of it, dusk, are open spaces like meadows, those flat grassy places behind high schools with all the white lines on them, yards, yards are nice, and the open areas along the roads you guys use to get where you’re going. Shoulders, verges, bar ditches, medians, berms, especially at night, that’s when the creepy things are out to get us so it’s safer to be somewhere where we can see for along way.

I’ve been asked “Why then, do you run into the path of the oncoming traffic, I know you said your kids are dumb, but wouldn’t it be better instead to race back into the shadows of the forest, eh?”. Therein lies the very answer to that question. The forest isn’t safe at night. Safe from you maybe but not from the dark evil things that like to eat us. Some of you have also driven into the forest with what I believe has been the express notion of getting us, and if all those trees hadn’t stopped you, you would have. I don’t why you do that. The end result is still a broken vehicle and the same insurance issues, but you’re the smart ones, so we have to defer to your ultimate wisdom.

My little ones had a near death experience the other night by running out in front of this 18 wheeler. Luckily the driver was able to lock it up and not hit them. I asked them why they did that and their answer was, “the other side of the road was the only thing they could see in all that bright light so they went for it.” We don’t have the ability or the spatial recognition to judge the relative speed of an oncoming vehicle, especially in the dark, so our threat assessment is all screwed up and we become 100 lbs. of ground round before we can get out-of-the-way.

What’s the answer? Simple. Kill all the cougars, wolves, bears, and wild dogs so we can stay back in the woods. That would be cool. If that doesn’t work for you, slow down. Watch for those deer on highway signs. Did you know they were put there because a deer was killed there. We’re creatures of habit. One of us getting taken out doesn’t change the fact that we’ve been using that crossing since before a road was there.

Yes I’ll talk to the kids again. Nodule shows some promise, but the juries still out on Solenoid and Edna, so I don’t hold out much hope. But I will try. Meanwhile put yourself in my place. Cougars and wolves on one side. 3000 lb. unyielding metal monsters that wouldn’t recognize a Mule deer if it slammed through their radiators. Give us a break please. Seeya in the Spring when they put the clocks back to normal. If we make it. Ciao

Skeleton Keys and Door Knobs

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In the small town of Rat’s Eye, Mt. pop.-3, there’s not many doors left that need locked, as they say around here. In fact there’s not many doors left at all. The town was named after a rock formation up higher on the hill behind the town that looked like a rat. There was a depression in the rat’s head right where the eye would be that had some quartz in it that would catch the light from the setting sun and make it gleam like a rat’s eye in the firelight. So somebody called it Rat’s Eye and the name stuck. Lots of places around the area got their names like that. This was never a big town to begin with as it didn’t have a lot going for it when there were live people living here. There wasn’t much of a draw. The country was a little steep for cows, you couldn’t grow much with a 97 day summer and except for a small seam of coal they never found anything worth mining for. But never the less there were people willing to give this place a try.

Such were the Chilkott family, Edna, Emmet and their boy Ed. Emmet worked odd jobs around town, Edna took in washing, put up jams and jellies and sort of home schooled the town kids and any ranch kid their folks would let off to try and learn something. Ed was a sickly child, he had the croup real bad when he was young and never seemed to get over it. He was what they called pigeon-chested, a narrow child both physically and mentally and no one held out much hope that he’d amount to much. They were right.

They lived in a small frame house that Emmet pretty much built by himself. It was back near the coal shed that everyone who worked the seam would store the coal in. The community drew on it throughout the winter. The Chilkott house wasn’t much but it was better than the wall tent they stayed in for the year and a half it took Emmet to stand the place up. Three rooms, which were a kitchen, a bedroom and a sort of combination storage area and a place to keep the few chickens they had plus the milking goat. Winters were bad enough that they had to keep the animals where it was warm and they couldn’t afford a barn. Edna had read that goat milk was better for children with the croup than cow milk was, and they couldn’t afford a cow anyway. They had a hard-packed dirt floor for a while until Emmet traded stacking fresh-sawn green lumber down at the tiny sawmill one summer for enough boards to put the floor in.

It was kind of a tough life but then nobody had it all that good. Every once in a while Emmet would come into a windfall of an extra dollar or two due to getting some extra work and they’d spend it on some extravagance. A folly they called it. The Sears catalog got a real work out then. The pages in each ones area of desire were dog-eared, the ink smeared from touching the things they wanted most. Everybody had a special item picked out and the discussions about their picks filled many a long night by the coal-fired stove as they each presented the merits of their claims. There was untold agony and the greatest elation as each persons choice would ascend or descend in popularity as the discussions waged back and forth. When the order was finally placed there was a sense of relief that they had finally agreed on something. It turned out that everybody would eventually get what they wanted with Edna being the last to finally get the thing she loved.

She had expected a hard life but the year and a half they lived in the tent nearly broke her. That winter proved to her that there was a purgatory just like that traveling preacher threatened. She was quite a bit more god-fearing after that and never missed a chance to give thanks for the little they had. She knew you could have a lot less. When they moved into the house she felt like she had become one of the chosen ones and good fortune had finally smiled on her. She was sure this was a sign they would make it.

Their front door was made out behind the house on a pair of homemade saw horses and didn’t turn out half bad, Emmet gradually getting more skilled in the making of things. They hung it at first with leather strap hinges and it had a clever latch system that Emmet puzzled out to keep it closed. When it was finally Edna’s turn to choose from the catalog she chose a brand new nickel-plated door knob with matching fancy back plate. It cost three dollars and was the most expensive thing they had ever ordered out of the book but she knew it would make her house a home. When it came it had not one but two keyholes with two different skeleton keys to lock it up tight so nobody could get in. For some reason Emmet installed it upside down. I wish I could ask him why he did that. He must have had a good reason. It didn’t matter, it still made their door the fanciest door in town and everybody stopped by to admire it and try their turn at using the keys in the locks. Whenever they left to go to church or over to Hackmore, the town next over the hill, to shop or attend the Saturday night dance Edna would carefully lock both locks then hang the keys on the nail Emmet put in the door frame to hold them. Locks were just for keeping honest people honest.

People were gradually leaving Rat’s Eye for more prosperous places like Hackmore which was growing leaps and bounds. Some of them even went on up to Billings where there was a lot of work. It wasn’t long before it was just the Chilkotts and one other family and they were talking about leaving. It was a desperately cold night and Ed was coughing again and one of them, the story doesn’t relate who, put some extra coal in the stove so they’d be a little warmer. Nobody knows how it happened, but some how the damper handle got bumped closing down the flue, maybe the stove door was hot and it got slammed shut and the damper turned, or the damper was turned open to let more air in to get the new coal started easier, then it was turned back a little too far towards the closed position, whatever happened it doesn’t matter now. The Chilkotts, Edna, Emmet and Ed didn’t wake up the next morning. Coal produces carbon monoxide and carbon monoxide produces deaths. And gone is gone.

The other family took care of burying the Chilkotts. They rest out behind their house on a little hill where Edna used to sit and crochet in better days. Then they packed up and left. That’s why the town sign says -3 for population because that’s all that ‘s left of the town of Rat’s Eye. That and a few of the buildings. The three graves are overgrown and barely discernible but the white rocks with their names on them are still there. Every once in a while someone will pull the weeds and straighten the stones. Edna’s fancy doorknob and back plate are still there, as is her house. The keys are long gone but it doesn’t matter, the doors are unlocked.

Interview With The Grim Raptor

InterviewGrimRaptor9306Redtail Hawk Colorado                           click to enlarge

 

Every once in a while we are fortunate enough to bring you an up-close and personal interview with personalities in the animal world. This week we are fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with one of the most interesting characters we’ve ever met. He’s one that everyone is curious about but few get to meet before their time. Here is our in-depth interview with the Grim Raptor. Due to the importance of our subject this week our interview is being conducted by the Institute’s very own CEO, and President, the man we know mainly as The Director.

TD*: Welcome to the show, I’m kind of at a loss as to what to call you. Is it Mr. Grim, or Raptor, or Ted or GR. What would you prefer?

GR*: GR will work.

TD: Well to start off, I’m sure that our audience would like to know how you came to be called the Grim Raptor.

GR: Well, it’s because I kill stuff.

TD: I see, well that certainly is to the point. That’s all you do?

GR: Yup, hunt ’em down and kill them.

TD: I’m sure we’re all dying to know, how did you get this job. It’s not like you can go down to the Unemployment office and say “Hey Got any openings for a Grim Raptor?” Is there a training program or a guild or Union, what, how does this work?

GR: We don’t usually talk about this, the other Grimmers and me, I mean, this is stuff that is very secret hidden knowledge, arcane kind of stuff you know. But the truth of it was me dad was a Grim Reaper and his dad before him and my grandpa, it goes way back. When I was just a little Raptor fresh out the nest, me Mom and Dad were off at some kind of retreat or convention or something and me and me brother was home alone and we got to squabbling like young Raptor’s do and he said stuff and I said stuff, tempers flared and before long I just pushed him out of the nest. That was it. When the folks got home, Dad took one look and said “That’s it then Ted, you’re a Grim Raptor”.

TD: Wow. You pushed your brother out of the nest? How could  you do that?

GR: Yeah, well, he was a whiney little twit, always trying to get up on nest edge so he’d get the first mouse that the folks brought back, always hogging the shade, hanging around with mom telling her stuff I’d do while they was gone, so I just got my head up under his wing and pushed and out he went. Simple really.

TD: Ok, well uh, moving along, you mentioned earlier that there were Grimmers. What are Grimmers? Are there are more than one of you who does what you do?

GR: Yeah, sure, there’s bunches of us. See, it ain’t that big of a secret really, every group has somebody who is the Grim Raptor of their group, they don’t call ’em Grim
Raptors of course, they all have their own names for them. I can’t tell you what they are because of the pact we made at the last get together but they’re out there. Even you guys have one. Death. He’s a scary bastard that one. I know we ain’t supposed to say his name but man, he makes us look like Sunday school teachers. Watch out for him.

TD: I didn’t  know that. I knew about death of course, but I didn’t know there was one for every type of being on the planet. That’s amazing.

GR: Right, it’s a big job isn’t it, and the big guy can’t do it alone so he farms parts of it out, outsourcing like, and so that’s how this all gets done. Makes sense then doesn’t it, when you think about it I mean. Uh oh, Looks like I got to cut this short. There’s a rabbit over there that I’ve been looking for. Got to go, See you later, well it probably won’t be me but it’ll be somebody. Until then, Be Good.

TD: (Long Silence…) So that concludes our interview with the Grim Raptor. I’m sure   you all found that informative, as did I, and I was going to say that I hope we’d have him back soon but on second thought, let’s do somebody different next time.

*TD The Director  * Grim Raptor