Monday, March 28, 2011
Stalkers and Dollars and Bones
Life moves pretty fast in the wilderness of Kentucky, and if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Then again, even if you don't go looking for adventure, as often as not adventure finds you.
Not long ago, I was hiking in the woods on a crisp windy morning. As I began my sojourn, I passed a nondescript sort of fellow walking out as I was walking in. Blue flannel shirt, pullover cap, short beard. I gave him the usual guy-nod, and he slightly acknowledged with one of his own.
Now, this was in a large open field area just before you reach the dense forest. When I got to that point, I stopped to open my thermos of coffee and have a slug, and looked around. No one in sight.
Yet, about half an hour later, by which time I'm deep in the heart of darkest America, I hear a sound behind me as I'm crossing a creek on half-submerged rocks. I look back, and I'll be damned if that guy isn't right behind me, standing on the other side of the creek, staring at me with a creepy expressionless face. Uh.... dude. Sup?
Think on this: I know he didn't turn around and start following me as soon as I originally passed him, because I had looked back across the open field and he was nowhere in sight, right? So in order for him to get from wherever he was then to suddenly be standing right behind me now, he had to have ran like hell to catch up with me. Not only ran like hell, but also at some point stop running and then silently start sneaking, in order to get that close to me without me having heard another presence in the forest.
So I'm thinking, this guy is either a park ranger or a pervert. Both, maybe? I reached into my camera case and pulled my camera out and the guy took off. Okay. Pervert it is, then.
I watched him flee until he was out of sight, then continued to listen to the sound of his escape. There was a false stop as he must have paused somewhere along the way, then I heard him trudge off on a slightly different trajectory into the distance.
No sooner had I turned around and continued along the trail I was on, than I came upon a folded dollar bill, laying plainly out in the open. The hell? I looked around, felt guilty for a moment for taking something that wasn't mine, but hey, I'm ten miles from civilization in any direction - obviously whoever lost it isn't going to trudge back out looking for a missing George, right? Finders keepers, losers weepers, right? Anyway, a gust of wind could have blown it into the creek at any moment, right?
Oh yeah. Hmmm.
Logically, then, Mr. Watson, we can conclusively deduce that this dollar, however and by whomever it came to be here, hadn't been here for very long. Still uneasy over the creep who was stalking me, I became even more wary about the dollar bill, folded in such a way that the Illuminati's eye in the pyramid was watching me. I felt like Deckard in Blade Runner finding one of Gaff's origami.
Looking back, the spooky dude and the dollar bill were most likely unconnected, of course. Probably just a coincidence that both incidents occurred within 60 seconds of each other, and within ten feet of each other. But sometimes even when a coincidence is just a coincidence, it still doesn't mean the Universe isn't trying to tell you something.
And on the way back home, I chanced upon a gnawed raccoon carcass with exposed vertebrae - and it hadn't been there on my way in on that same path. Probably dropped there by a hawk or turkey buzzard, who are notorious for clumsily dropping bones in flight. I tend to find a lot of bones in the woods, and often save them for art projects. This one, however, I didn't mess with. The buzzard clearly wasn't finished, and might be back to gnaw on this some more. I felt as if I was being watched - perhaps the bird was watching me from a high treetop, telling me "get away from my lunch." Or perhaps that weird guy was still lurking. Either way: predator.
Is there any overarching message to be gleaned from all this? Oh, probably not; maybe just that nature is filled with opportunities, and not all of them are good. Finders keepers, losers weepers.