Here in southwest Missouri the weather has become very agreeable these past few days, considering that it is early January... a heavy jacket feels good, and there isn't a cloud in the sky. As I often do, I went for a walk on my lunch break a couple of days ago, to get away from the computer for a bit. I normally walk on the Ozark City park trails along the Finley River, not far from our office. There is a paved trail and a wooded trail. That day I decided to walk the paved trail, which is a little over a half mile one way. About 15 minutes into my walk I saw an elderly couple 30 yards or so up the path from me, headed my way. As I got closer, off to my left toward the river I heard something rustling in the brush, and then the distinct sound of something running, full out, through the dry grass toward me. There are wild critters along the trail, and my first thought was that it must be a squirrel. But when I saw this thing running at a full gallop toward me, my mind could not process what I was seeing. Is it a 'possum?.... a beaver?.... geeez, maybe it's a rabid bobcat! My mind was racing at top speed, which sadly for me, is dangerously slow for survival in the wilds of the Ozarks wilderness ;) So I'm standing there, wondering how this crazed critter is going to dismember me. Will it go for my legs first, or leap at my face and chew my eye brows off? Mind you, this was all happening in the span of maybe 5 to 8 seconds. And then, a pink sweater. What the?... the rabid beaver is wearing a pink sweater. Then from behind me I hear "aawww he ain't gonna do nothin to ya". and in the next moment I had a very excited miniature Schnauzer running circles around me feet, wanting very much to say hello. Cute as could be. As I bent down to greet the little guy, the man added "now... he don't need none of yer ol' dog kisses" I assumed he was speaking to the dog.
The mind is a funny thing. I seriously didn't know what I was looking at as that Schnauzer ran headlong toward me... and my brain was processing everything as fast as it could. If it really had been something dangerous, I would have been toast. That is not a comforting thought. I need to get out into the woods more often. I'm getting soft, and slow... just like any rabid groundhog in a little pink sweater would want me to be. Yup, I definitely need to get out more.