On Monday night at 4:00 a.m., Maggie needed to go outside. Rod graciously did the honors, trudging outside with the dogs into the cool night air. Half-asleep, I was vaguely aware of their exit when I heard the most peculiar scream issuing from the woods behind our house. Half feline and half goblin, it sounded like a cry and sob combined. Chloe, so I am told, tore back to the house in terror; once inside, she leapt onto the bed and dug in close beside me, not moving a muscle for the next three hours. What can I say? She's an absolutely adorable but perfectly useless dog. It's hard to believe that she's classified by the AKC as a working breed unless one considers reclining on laps a form of labor. Good stalwart Maggie, however, puffed out her chest and answered each successive scream from the woods with a hearty woof. Even in her debilitated state, she was going to face down this mysterious varmint. She was, nonetheless, relieved to accompany Rod back into the house.
We still can't identify the sound, despite listening to audio snippets on the web. We've narrowed down our suspects to a bobcat and screech owl; I think Rod is inclining toward the latter.
I must say that spring has truly sprung in the Downs, between the possums, snakes, and mysterious screaming beasties. Soon the big ugly toads that reside in the creek and serenade us through the night will make an appearance. Often I find one on the front step, puffing up with indignation if I dare to push it aside gently with my toe. I'm told these toads excrete some sort of vaguely psychedelic ooze: neighbors have warned me not to let the dogs lick them (as if). After the toads, come the tortoises, who regularly hazard their lives when crossing the road. I'm happy to report that everyone in the neighborhood makes a collective effort on their behalf, stopping cars and carrying them to safety. As for the mosquitoes that feed upon us all, human and animal alike, no one accords them mercy. I slap the miscreants with impunity, delighting at the little splat of blood (usually mine) that signals their demise. I have no doubt that I will suffer many lowly reincarnations as a result of my terrible attitude, but I draw the line at mosquitoes. Good karma only goes so far.