Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Rugged Outdoorsman

I have long fancied myself a woodsman. Growing up in a small town, my classmates dreamed of escaping to the cities, Atlanta, Baltimore, even New York, while I read accounts of pioneers and mountain men of the nineteenth century and fantasized about becoming a latter day version of the same.

In high school, while they cruised the parking lot of the first fast-food joint to appear in the county seat, I rode the back roads. While they watched ballgames on weekend afternoons, I wandered the forest. So it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream when, approaching the age of 50, I moved to a cabin on a forested hillside in Kentucky.

A neighboring piece of property was offered for sale recently. I acquired a key and drove to the site. The house was underwhelming, but I was more interested in the land, anyhow.

Snow still covered the ground as I began my trek up the hillside to investigate. Behind a barn that was tucked away on a remote plateau, I found tracks I didn't recognize. The paw print of a bear, perhaps? The black variety were rumored to haunt these parts. Or maybe a panther. I took a photograph and continued on my jaunt.

The land was more farm than wild, I decided. Some nice acreage, but not suitable to a outdoorsman such as myself. Returning down the hill, I spied an owl perched on the chimney of the house. I moved closer. I stopped and took a picture, lest my approach spook the creature and I be left with no record of him. From directly behind, I took several excellent shots. Then I circled the home to approach from the front.

I felt certain my appearance would cause the bird to take flight. Perhaps I could capture an image of his ascent for my blog! I held my breath and walked on tiptoe. Rounding the corner, I raised my camera... and took the picture shown. I had stalked a plastic ornament someone had placed atop an unused chimney.

I made a 180 degree survey of my surroundings. No pedestrians were nearby. No traffic passed on the road below. Holstering his camera, the rugged woodsman hiked back to his Nissan and drove home on roads scraped clean by county workers.

The paw prints proved to be those of a large dog. Perhaps a coyote, but who knows? Tonight I think I'll stay inside and watch a movie.