Monday, January 02, 2006

A scream in the night

Something woke me up!

It is New Year’s morning. Actually its one AM. The first hour of the new year and I must have been asleep for several hours.

However, a few minutes ago, I suddenly sat up in bed.

My first thought was to go to the closet where we keep the shotgun. And unlock the door.

And get the gun out.

And go to the cabinet drawer. The one with the lock. And unlock it. And get a box of shells.

There is something outside.


At first I thought it might be in the chicken pasture. Something might have got a hold of one of the chickens, only...

Only, that’s not what it sounds like. it’s something else. Something I’ve never heard before.

Without turning on the light, I get dressed, pulling on my coveralls and a flannel shirt.

My heavy boots.

While I’m dressing I hear it again. Once, twice.

It’s something I’ve never heard before.

I don’t get the shotgun but quietly go down the stairs, grab my coat at the front door and go outside.

It’s dark out. No moon. broken clouds shifting back and forth in front of the stars. It is abnormally still.

The dogs, our two large Great Pyrenees which should have been half way up the mountain and barking at whatever was out there were instead both in the front yard, under the old pear tree.

They are wide awake and listening with their eyes staring up into the forest.

Even the birds, the roosters in the pasture and the geese and turkeys, creatures that normally would be yelling and squawking at an unknown sound were silent.

Even the forest is quiet. I don’t hear any birds or animals or even the wind. Everything is quiet.

Except for the scream.

A scream every 30, maybe every 45 seconds.

At first I wanted to say it was some sort of bird. Maybe a large bird. But I listened and that’s not what it was.

It was something else.

It was like there was something else out there. Something that made everything, every creature in the forest hold its breath, lay as close to the ground as possible, hoping, it seemed, hoping that whatever it was wouldn’t notice them hiding.

Here I am standing outside, in the dark, everything so quiet and then a scream and then the silence again.

I thought about going back into the house and getting our shotgun. Hesitated a moment and then slowly walked up the drive, toward the forest.

And how about right there we stop for the farm news? Stop right in the middle of the night and talk about... vegetables.

There’s not to much farming going on this time of year.

The chickens are still laying a dozen or so eggs a day. You are welcome to come out and collect them. Free.

The snow and ice are gone from on top of the lettuce and mustard and while I haven’t walked out in the field to check it looks to still be alive. You are welcome to come on out and pick some (check with me first, I’ll walk out and see what shape its in.

We will start our 2006 subscription drive in early March. I’ve pretty much put the new 2006 information up on our webpage. More details when we get closer to the time.

Here’s one for all of you who want to spend a month getting away from it all. Do you want to spend a month, rent free, in a villa on the beach in the Yucatan? We have some friends that run a small villa way down south in Mexico, almost to Belize. They go north during the summer to work and are looking for some house sitters. This year they need someone starting March. Contact me for details.

Cows/beef. Last call for putting in your order for pasture raised beef. My neighbor’s cows go to the butcher in just over a week. Contact me for details.

Laying hens. I am reducing my flock of chickens. Is your backyard zoned for chickens (to show how old I am, when I was a kid growing up in Arlington the old couple down the street had several hundred chickens. On Sunday mornings, just as the sky was getting light, I would be out delivering papers and on many mornings I would see the woman come out in her yard, grab a couple birds, hang them from the clothes line and... and start the process for a Sunday chicken dinner.

Which brings us back to the sound in the forest?

Was it the sound of something being eaten?

It was creepy. Eerie. It sounded a lot like a human baby deep in the forest, screaming.

I felt a chill go down my spine.

I started running through the list of things it could be. A bird? None I knew of.

A bob cat? I don’t know. Maybe? But not really.

A bear? What does a bear sound like?

Not a dog. A coyote? No. Not a wolf either.

I couldn’t think of what it could be. Which made me think about it maybe not being something I could identify. Imagine being on the edge of a dark, dangerous unknown forest. Before the ever growing city when the forest went on and on, all of it except the very fringes unknown and listening to the distant calls of animals only imagined. Not knowing what animals exist or don’t exist in the deep darkness.

I stood there for a while longer, standing in the cold and dark and then I turned back toward our house with its doors and warmness inside.


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