July 9, 2002

Vultures, Indian Knives, and a Flood Light

Yesterday became one of those days from Hell that makes one wonder if we are not sometimes being punished for our sins while on Earth.

The day started off bright enough. I had been in Italy for five weeks and was concerned about the health and welfare of the two baby Black Vultures that were being raised in an abandoned deer blind on the Zwickey Creek Wildlife Sanctuary.

The littlest baby had seemed very weak and I had feared for her survival. Only one parent was ever seen at the nest site and it was becoming increasingly dangerous for vultures to even attempt to dine on road-kill due to the increasingly heavy traffic on highways in the area.

Every few days I would take two cans of cat food to the nest. The big baby would hiss and grunt and then scramble over to protect the little baby when I opened the door to the deer stand to give them their supplemental food. Within a few days, however, the little baby seemed to grow stronger and so I felt better about leaving for Italy.

When I arrived at the deer stand I looked up and three vultures looked down at me from a nearby dead pine tree. It was the parent and the two babies, which had obviously not only survived, but had learned to fly!!! They seemed to recognize me and showed no signs of fear no matter how close I came to the base of the pine.

It was that evening when pleasant thoughts of baby vultures soaring through blue skies turned to living hell. One of my best friends was driving back to Huntsville after a boat ride to attempt to locate the legendary fourteen-foot long Pool's Creek alligator when her car left the road in a rainstorm and collided head-on with a pine tree.

I had been driving home just in front and when I looked back and her headlights were missing, I turned around and discovered her slumped over the steering wheel. Her seatbelt was on but for some reason the air bag did not activate. I called the wrecker and took her home, as her injuries appeared superficial.

Little did I know that she oozed blood from her injuries throughout the night and by morning her bedspread was soaked with blood and she was very weak. Her daughter called our doctor and he discovered that she should have had stitches and that her heart had apparently suffered trauma from the impact.

After a long and tortuous day at the office I stopped by her house on my way to unwind at the Wilderness Cathedral. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep only to be awakened an hour later by a phone call from my wife telling me that she would bring me something to eat later.

In the meantime, I decided to go out to The Great Spirit Wilderness and enjoy the lakeshore and the colors of the sunset. The sky and clouds were at their most intense color as the sun set. Dozens of Purple Martins were hurrying toward the bridge where they spend the night with tens of thousands of their friends.

I was standing in the shallow water at the shore and asked God for a sign that my friend would be ok. A fallen branch formed a V pointing toward me and I sensed the presence of an Indian knife. I reached down and there it was-a perfect arrowhead!!! I had sensed the presence of an Indian knife at that exact spot a few days before but none was to be found.

Other issues and problems were also on my mind and I asked God to shed light on these questions and dilemmas. God either has a great sense of humor or He was just irritated with me for taking up more of His time than I should be allotted. I reached down into the sand from which the Indian knife had emerged and pulled up a large flood light bulb!!! The bulb was obviously burned out but it did serve to be a stress reliever as I chuckled at its symbolism.

I apologized to God for being so presumptuous and reached down in the same spot. There it was-a second Indian Knife. Not wishing to push my luck or make God irritated with me enough to send me another sign to put me in my place, such as broken glass or a rusty nail, I started home.

I drove past what looked like a stick in the road. It dawned on me that the stick might actually be a little snake, so backed up and sure enough, it was no stick but a baby Copperhead soaking up the warmth of the pavement. Nearly all of the resident humans in East Texas make it a point to kill any snake they can find, so I always make it a point to stop, get out of my car and give the snake a lecture on the dangers of lying about on the pavement.

Road snakes almost always heed my advice, but this cocky little rascal believed that he owned the road and took immediate offense at my attempts to shoo him toward the forest where he would be safe from harm. I have never seen such aggression!!! The rude little bugger jumped and struck at me repeatedly. I almost died laughing at his antics. I was finally able to force him to flee with the help of a stick that he struck at several times before getting wise enough to get out of the street.

Further along foxy stood by the side of the road and I stopped long enough to tell him to follow me to the house for some scraps. Sue arrived and put out a can of cat food but instead of foxy coming to eat it, a mother Raccoon and her five babies showed up and gobbled it up in nothing flat. Immediately thereafter foxy showed up only to find an empty dish. I told him to chill and cool his jets and that I would bring him his own can of cat food. He patiently waited until I brought him his dinner.
The glow of the sunset had been the dawn of the end of my stressful day in what had seemed like the jaws of hell.


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