Visual of the Elusive Critter
Last weekend I drove down to New Hampshire. When I left on Friday I grabbed two things to pop into a mailbox, one of which was a DVD from Netflix to be returned. I figured I would pass a mailbox at some point. I picked up a friend to ride together and, once we got conversing, I totally forgot about the mail. We arrived at our destination and I had to leave a random object (in this case a tin of mints) in front of the steering wheel to remind me to find a mailbox on the way home.
The tin of mints did its job. It reminded me that I had left the mail under the seat and dutifully took it out to mail on the way home. Since my friend and I rode home together again, however, I repeated my forgetfulness on the return journey. I got home and the mail was still in my possession. I dropped it in the mailbox to be picked up by our carrier the next day. It was Sunday.
We had been watching the Indiana Jones series–four in a row was the plan. We had watched the first three and the most recent, from last year, was on our itinerary for that Sunday. The children fell asleep and I noticed that the disc I thought was the one we wanted was sealed in its return envelope. I figured we had sealed it up by mistake and realized that it was the third movie. I had put the wrong one in the mailbox. At this point I was thinking how glad I was not to have found a mailbox it after all. I would have sent away the film we were hoping to see.
So I headed down our long driveway to the mailbox. It wasn’t dark yet, but it was getting there. My wife had cut the lawn earlier in the day and I noticed a dark smudge on the edge of the driveway where the grass was newly clipped. I wondered if she had run over something–some bark or old leaves or some plastic bag type item. As I got right up to it, however, I realized that it was nothing that the lawnmower had mangled. It was a snipe.
I had never seen a snipe, but I had seen photographs, and I had seen woodcocks, which look similar. It is a small bird with a long thin beak, colored to blend in to the grass and about the size of a robin. I have heard snipes many times and, to be honest, I have seen them in flight, way up against the dim sky. They have a funky mating display in the spring where they make eerie low whistling noises at the tail ends of the day. They are either hiding in the grass or too difficult to see clearly, since they fly typically when the light is low.
So I was pretty ecstatic to see one of these puppies. But it was not alone. It had a mottled chick, fuzzy and still next to it. I walked right up to them and they did not move. Obviously they were working under the camouflage principal–Don’t move and no one will see us since we look just like everything around us. Good theory, but since they were on the nipped grass, it wasn’t working so well. I watched them for a while before continuing to the mailbox.
I assumed they would split when I returned but they were still there. I watched them again for a while and they did not move. I felt like I would stress them out so I split. Then I thought I might get a photo, so I dropped the red envelope, picked up my camera and headed back down the driveway. My spouse was on the phone so she missed out. It was still there, so I took a couple of poor photos, getting as close as I dared and zooming in with our lame zoom lens as close as it would go. I took four photographs, all of which, how to say this simply, suck.
By the time my wife was off the phone and tried to find our avian friends, they had decided to find some taller grass. She was out of luck. I would say at least I had the photos, but they were not much help. So the lessons here:
- It is OK to forget things sometimes as forgetting may lead one in a direction that offers treasure
- Take time to look around
- Tell your wife to get off the phone if you see a snipe and its chick hanging out right next to the driveway without moving
- Get a better camera
Father’s Day is coming up. Maybe I will drop some hints about that camera. The movie, by the way–Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull–was pretty good. They managed to bring our hero back as a much older man in a believable and fun way. The story itself may not have been believable but hey, it’s just a movie.