Sunday, March 4, 2012


Let me just tell you the story of four friends who went out for a simple wildlife-viewing evening and ended up saving a car from doom. DOOOM!

So me and the main squeeze, and my supergal and her main squeeze, we go out to this cute little nature preserve and we have it in our heads (thanks to me that put the idea there) that we're going to have a picnic dinner in the sunset and then go look for, and watch Timberdoodles.

And "what" I can hear you asking yourself now, gentle reader, "is a timber doodle?"

Well, for a start, that is.

Some of you might be thinking "that little cutie? that's a woodcock!" and you'd be right to think so. They're one and the same. There are EVEN a few theories out there that this handsome little devil is also the much maligned "Snipe" of the much maligned "snipe hunts" that kids tortured each other with in the olden days of yore. You know, before there were like VCRs and Televisions and electricity and stuff. (that's for you, mom.)

So anyway, we get to the park, our guide is there and happy to welcome us to what will surely be a magical evening and we have about an hour to kill before the tour starts. So what are we to do? it's a gorgeous park, trails galore and lots of lusty, muddy paths of pre-spring, Maryland marshland to explore. Right?

Seems that the hybrid car parked next to us had the same hankering... because as we got back to the parking area to begin our delicious picnic-y repast... this sweet old couple was staring with great dismay at their beloved electric car and the four inch ruts of mud and sod that had piled up on either side of each of the four tires.

Oh dear. Turns out, the parking lot wasn't that broad after all. In fact, it was quite unprepared (especially after last night's rain) to accept ANY kind of weight, much less the delicate kiss of four tires belonging to the cutest electric car you ever saw. Bright red. Awww.

Well, we still had a few neighbors parked around us so what else could we do? We all rolled up our sleeves and started helping out. I jammed big sticks into the wheel-ruts. The boys measured and monitored things from the back of the car and negotiated pushing techniques, and together the six of us got the sweet little car (and pre-geriatric occupants) to shoot backwards about eight feet.


Right into a ditch. ooooh.

Well, kindof. It was half in, half out, anyway, and the passenger-side half of the car was perched (still on tires, miraculously) on the thinnest roots and remnants of a tree that had just fallen over a few months ago. These roots and remnants, you see, were the only things between the vehicle and about a three foot slump sideways into insurance-claim-land.

Wellsir, we weren't about to be slowed down. We shook the gobs of mud and sod from our hands (and faces and shoulders) and we began to search the woods for more hard stuff. We packed the pit with tree parts, rocks, huge rotting... somethings... and finally had JUUUST enough purchase to try to thrust the car forward again.

Oma put it in Neutral, and the (by now) twelve of us wrestled together for hand-space on the sweet little car and we HEAVED and we WHOOVED and we HURNGHED and we finally got that little red bastard out of trouble.

Thaaaat took about an hour and a half. Our guide was helping too, so it's not like we were gonna' miss the tour!

Hugs and congratulations all around. The couple was relieved to be free of disaster and we all promised each other to never ever park on green grass ever again. We laughed, we shook loose about eight pounds each of chunky mud (and embarrassment) and everyone went their own way.

We bolted our remaining picnic dinner (bread, hummus, oreos and fanta = pure joy) and then drove out of the parking area, following our guide, to the timberdoodle-stalking location.

Halfway there, mind you, we stopped in what I can only describe as a "holler". We rolled down our windows and were greeted with the most wonderful cacophony of one-note froggy voices. The air was positivley thick with them. Seriously. Our eyes all popped. Me and supergal especially. It was stunning.

It sounded fake, actually, like a movie set or something. Just all those little musical notes thrumming and throbbing over each other - clamboring for pitch and volume in a confetti of courtship. It was a timeless noise. It was a noise that doesn't get bothered by shoe-styles or gas prices. It was a choir of business that had absolutely nothing to do with any of us and it was louder than all of us and in the dwindling light of a creamy orange popsicle sunset... oh man... it just doesn't get much better than that.

Moving on, and heads still spinning with what we had just spent the last 2 minutes listening to, we finally landed at the field at which we'd be doing our timberdoodleing.

These birds, you see, are doing their mating displays right now and they only do it in the dwindling light of creamy orange popsicle sunsets. "MEERT" they go, four times. Like muppets, kindof. and then FWOOSH they fly upwards into the air about 200 feet high in a large arc of jumbled, giggling feathers and whiffling noises after which they swoop back silently to the ground like jet fighters with the mute button on. Upon landing, they start their beeping "MYURT" noises again.

One of them, we were close enough to hear his throaty gulping noise that comes before the buzzing beep. "gloomp-MEERT" he went. Like, maybe you remember an old Wild America about the prairie chickens and their sub-sonic gulping noises? That's the sound these dudes make, but it's far less showy.

Still really cool though.

There we were, all of us sweaty and muddy and bathed in the un-light of after-sunset. We were in the middle of some poor farmer's corn field and listening with rapture for "MREET" and "MYURT" and "gloomp-NEEP". Twice we were lucky enough to catch the giggle-dance of the males launching themselves skyward, swooping around the field and then (in one case) finally zooming right back to the ground just a few yards in front of us... his landing was both invisble and impossibly silent. BUT the moment he landed... he announced his presence with a proud and almost thunderous "MREEET"

my cheeks still hurt from all that grinning I did.

We got home at a fiercely reasonable 8:00. We all decompressed a little by watching some bad tv and just hanging out and talking and telling stories.

It was a perfect Saturday outing.

Timberdoodles man.


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