As what has become a bit of a tradition, normally I’d show a picture of a very unclean-though-satisfied-with-herself picture of Nancy with the caption “Now go do something dirty”. But seeing as we’re all stuck inside for this earth day and can’t get dirty (thanks, by the way; we’re sure to be out there soon enough if we keep it up!), I thought I’d go back into the story vault for a little distracting, dirty content.
And so, I give you: It Was the Peacocks! (alternative title: #thecachedescriptionsaidnothingaboutpeacocks )
It never ceases to amaze me how little trips can be turned into big adventures with just a small little incident adding a lot of excitement when you didn’t expect it. On this day’s hike, it was peacocks. Maybe I should explain….
I should start by trying to describe Nancy’s personality. Nancy is kind of like one of those sweet little old ladies who is all about cookies and compliments but has one little thing that enrages her out of character, like kids walking across her lawn. For everyone who knows her, she’s Nanna or Boobie or Gram Gram. To the kids on the block, she’s the crazy lawn lady. Except unfortunately, to Nancy, walking across the lawn is just simply existing if you’re a flightless bird.
I told the story about Nancy and the turkey a while back ( https://goo.gl/GNLMTJ – TL;DR version is that she really, really does not like them) and so you can imagine what I was thinking when we heard some wild turkey calls on an extended geocaching trek through some Southern Ontario woods – think forests between farmland, with the spring air and sunshine having melted most of the snow into mud. I need to keep her on the trail and out of the dirt, but mostly away from those birds she hates. Conveniently, our route moved away from the sounds, so we were good. And Nancy was being very good, though getting a bit dirty again.
We were looking for this one particularly hard geocache, bringing with us some rope and a bit of gear, knowing we’d have to climb a tree, but wound up trying to balance on a wobbly fence while one of us bent a branch within reach. It was tiring work, to be honest.
Distracted, we forgot all about the turkeys in the distance, and so were surprised to hear Nancy start her low woofing sounds when she hears something coming she doesn’t like. I barely had time to climb down to calm her and tell her to stay before she bolted towards the sounds. “Stupid Turkeys,” I said, starting off to retrieve her. I rounded the corner of the path to see a perfectly still Nancy – in “stalk” mode – staring at something. As I got closer, I spotted it. Get this: It was a freaking peacock! Yes. Just as freaked as I was, the peacock slapped it’s tail back and ran, and of course, with Nancy in toe.
Wait…. What did I just see? How the hell does that happen?
Though far out of view, I could hear the chase and the odd screech sound from the running bird. But that’s when it got even weirder. The chase sounded like it had briefly stopped, and in a quick moment I heard a familiar so-offensive-to-Nancy sound. It was like a “gobble gobble gobble” but really fast and more high pitched, and really, really offended. Yep. We found the turkeys.
As I gave a fruitless chase, following these absolutely absurd sounds of squeals and squanks and gobbles and barking, with leave rustles and branch snapping, I thought that this may have been the most ridiculous thing I have ever been a part of. I wasn’t sure if I was chasing turkeys or peacocks or both.
I imagine what happened was that this peacock, already far from whatever home it had escaped from (I’ve since been told many big estates would buy them and let them roam free on their grounds), had stumbled upon this unreasonably aggressive canine with hate in her eyes. From there she bolted towards the woods, happening on these two friendly, familiar looking guys with similar styles, but who instead of offering any kind of support, screamed out the turkey equivalent of “Dude! What are you doing? Don’t bring that thing over here!”
At this point, no doubt they all split up. Who knows which one of them Nancy kept chasing, and to where. All the while, the stumbling, clumsy human tried to keep up.
Nancy, tired, having proved whatever point she was making to these offensive beasts, and like the good dog she is, went immediately back to the spot where she left us – I assume very proud of herself. Unfortunately, she didn’t tell me this. I kept looking for her. As the sun was setting, I have to admit that I began to really worry at one point. I’d stop to listen for rustling but would hear nothing. This made me uneasy. She always comes back. She always checks in. Something must be wrong. I whistled and listened. I called and listened. In some kind of weird, fowl CSI, I desperately looked for clues to where she headed. (What does a peacock/turkey chase look like anyway?)
But of course she was perfectly fine, having met up with my friend, and both were making their back along the trail. For good measure, and to avoid a similar incident, my friend smartly leashed Nancy until we met up again. I had left her there with all the gear to carry, assuming I’d be right back. So the extra pulling dog, excitedly lunging to find me, along with her own leashed dog, would not have made for easy hiking. Did I mention how muddy the trail was, and how each precarious step might land you in muck, and probably not gracefully. You don’t need a dog jarring you forward in these moments. What Nancy would say was that she could hear me calling her, and so she was helping.
When I finally heard my friend calling, I couldn’t make out what she was saying. I tried calling back saying I hadn’t found her yet and to listen for movement. Maybe call out Nancy’s name. In a weird Abbott and Costello routine, I’d call out, not hear anything so start walking again, only to hear her in distance, but muffled by the rustling leaves at my moving feet. So I’d stop, call out, hear nothing… and repeat.
You can probably imagine how relieved I was to see Nancy (and my friend of course, but she didn’t run off chasing peacocks). And boy was she filthy! (Nancy, that is.) I guess chasing flightless birds is dirty work? When we were all together we talked about what happened. Whew! Wow. Ha ha. Sure, it’s funny *now*.
I really don’t know what it is about turkeys – and now peacocks, clearly. I couldn’t think of a more harmless beast of the forest. Is it the freaky way they walk? Is it being freaked out at seeing such a big bird compared to those you normally see? I really have no idea.
Or is it because she read this article?
Okay, I think I get it. But that still doesn’t explain the turkeys.
Stay safe, everyone! We’ll be out there getting dirty soon enough.