Special to the Tribune-Star
I suppose most people have had cute, funny or bizarre encounters with domestic pets or even wild animals. I’ve certainly had my share … from my small daughters hoisting a basket full of kittens from the ground to the second floor of our home hoping their mother and I wouldn’t notice, to some interesting sights as I walked the State Line Road close to where I used to live, west of West Terre Haute.
I had a regular route I walked that took in about five miles. One quiet morning I was relaxed and walking at my usual pace when, suddenly, a covey of quail took off from a nearby field and the noise and subsequent sight of these birds startled me so much I thought I was going to have a heart attack. It was a beautiful sight but it took a minute or so for my blood pressure to return to normal.
Another story makes me laugh every time I think about it. It was a Saturday morning and I was walking near Sugar Creek. I came over a little rise in the road and trotting across the road was a mother fox and three or four kits. When she saw me, she hurried the babies off the road into the bushes. One little one, a little braver and more curious than the others, stuck his head out of the bushes to get a better look at me. No sooner than he had popped his head out his mother grabbed him by the nape of the neck and pulled him in out of harm’s way. For me, it was a sight straight out of a Disney movie. Just too cute.
Again, during that five-year period of time living in that area, I was sitting on my deck, which overlooked a lake, watching various birds and other critters. All of a sudden a hawk was sitting on the railing watching me watch him. He was a beautiful young hawk. He sat there for awhile exchanging looks with me and then flew off. I often wondered what he was thinking as he decided to visit me on my deck. A few days later, a much larger critter came running down the bank of the lake. It was a cougar. It didn’t stay long, but it startled me. At that time, I didn’t know there were any cougars, mountain lions or panthers, around here. (They are all the same cat.)
The last story I want to share with you is a bit bizarre. Once again, I was walking on State Line Road going south a few feet from the railroad tracks at the bottom of a small hill. I was south of the Old Paris Road. Out of nowhere a dog ran up beside me, circled me, and then ran behind me. I quickly turned around and standing there by the railroad track was a small boy. He obviously wasn’t dressed for playing outdoors. He was wearing slacks, a polo shirt, and leather shoes. The dog was sitting down beside him.
I took a few more steps up the road and turned to speak to the boy, but he was gone. The length of time I had walked with my back to the boy and the dog was just a few seconds, and bleep, they had disappeared. I thought it was strange because there was really no place to go in that short period of time.
For whatever reason, the dog didn’t bark, the boy didn’t speak, and I did not speak to him. If I had seen a ghost, it was my very first. After this incident, people I told about it asked me what I had been smoking out there in the country. Nada, not even one of my favorite cigars.
A lady I knew said I always talk to anyone I meet, and for some reason that remains unexplained, I didn’t say a word. Maybe the strangest thing was the dog, which I had never seen and haven’t seen since, didn’t bark as he circled me. I’m not into anything that would make me hallucinate, but this has to stack up as one of the strangest experiences I have ever had while walking in the country.
Winter weather and a sore knee has kept me from walking, but now that spring is about to be sprung upon us, I’ll be walking around my favorite park. Who knows what I’ll see next!
Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.