My favorite time to run is in the morning around sunrise. This is also nature’s favorite time of day, and I see all kinds of creatures when I’m out, both furry and feathered. And, while I tend to run towards the furry, I find myself more often than not
running-no-sprinting away from the feathered.
Exhibit A – the iconic Canada Goose. This noble fowl’s natural habitat is lakes, marshes or ponds. But the geese have, over time, adapted to urban sprawl, and have no problem calling residential neighborhoods home. Most of the year these birds, while large, are relatively harmless. But come spring, they become unholy feathered beasts of rage.
There’s a pond on my running route, and in the spring I’m actually afraid to pass it. Because, as I turn the last bend towards it, I’m met by dozens of pairs of beady eyes, sizing me up. I slow down as I approach them, and tell them I’m not interested in them or their families. But this rarely works.
The attack starts with them marching towards me like a small army. Only they’re not just the army. They’re the navy and air force too. It’s the trifecta of warfare. If I can get past them while they’re still marching, I’m good. However, if I hear a “HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS” (otherwise known as their call to arms), I know I’m screwed. These birds attack, and viciously so. This good Canadian knows that once I hear said “HISSSSSSSSSSSSSS” it’s time to sprint myself out of there.
Exhibit B – the majestic Bald Eagle. One morning, while running away from the geese, I noticed a shadow on a fence up ahead. I could just make out a pair yellow eyes watching me. As I approached, its body remained still while its head pivoted, following my movements. When, finally, I reached it, I stopped to take a look. With a wingspan of up to 7.5 feet, eagles are very large birds. And I, as stated in previous posts, am a very small human.
We stared at one another, in silent study, until it hit me. Eagles are the Hannibal Lecters of the bird world. And here I was, the subject of this one’s very own culinary study. His yellow eyes had been waiting for me to trip while running from the geese so he could try me (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating,.. suspend your disbelief and go with it). Naturally, I sprinted away.
Exhibit C – the most fearsome creature one can encounter at dawn. If the eagle is the Hannibal Lecter of the bird world, the Wild Turkey is Hannibal’s psychotic cousin. The danger with turkeys is that, while a goose will attack you to protect its honor and an eagle will attack you because it’s hungry, a turkey will attack you simply because it feels like it. And, contrary to popular belief, turkeys can fly.
One summer morning, I was out for a jog when, out of quite literally nowhere, I heard a terrible “SQUAAAWCK!” from behind a fence followed by a series of violent beating noises. Then, in the clumsiest attempt at levitation I’ll ever witness, a creature rose above me like a disabled phoenix. The bird managed to clear the fence, but subsequently lost altitude. I, now at a dead stop, suddenly realized Hannibal’s psycho cousin was on a deliberate collision course with my face.
Running away from a wild turkey was not my brightest moment. Were it not for my super-awesome-fast-sprinting, I surely would have fallen victim to this bully. But, somehow, I lived to tell the tale to you dear readers. And, as I ran away that dawn, something clicked. Psycho Cuz didn’t have an army of support, nor did he have grace or strategy but, man, he had passion.
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