I live on a quiet country lane among the farm fields surrounding Portland’s western suburbs. My nearest neighbor is over ¼ mile away. However, this pastoral life in the country is occasionally interrupted by strange goings-on.
Recently a very large old tree fell over nearby, destabilizing the road I use for my daily commute into work. The road was shut for nearly a month. I found out just how ingrained my habits are when I had to turn around at the blocked road repeatedly for the first several days of the closure… and then on average about once per week throughout the roadworks. Although I found an alternate route, it involved taking a different freeway exit, which for some reason I overshot last Friday on my afternoon commute (must be the blond effect). No worries, I could carry on to the next off-ramp and make my way home on the country back roads. (Trust me, I am going somewhere with this…)
As I rolled up to an intersection, I spied a school bus down the lane that I could have pulled out in front of, had I been in a mood to drive aggressively. However, it was Friday afternoon, I was chillaxed and anyway the bus appeared to be empty, bar the driver, so I patiently let it pass. Little did I know that the bus was actually chock-a-block full with tiny children hidden amongst the seats. Now I was doomed to spend a good fifteen minutes stopped behind that bus as it crawled from driveway to driveway, red lights flashing and stop signs deployed. You’d think the bus driver could have waved me around at some point, given I didn’t see even one oncoming car in all the time I was waiting behind it. But NO-o… So enough of that rant; I’m sure if I ever have a tiny child of my own, I will fully appreciate the laws that keep them safe while disembarking the school bus.
Anyway, while I was sat behind the school bus waiting for yet another munchkin to be discharged into the arms of his mother, a duck FELL OUT OF THE AIR and landed about 5 yards away from my car. Weird, huh? Then I realized the duck was dead. D-E-A-D, deader than a doornail, dead. WTF? It’s raining dead ducks? I was puzzled until I looked up and saw a bald eagle wheeling in the air above the car, so irritated by the razzing of a territorial little bird that it had dropped its latest victim. I’ve never seen a bald eagle in person before so that was cool, but I was a little horrified by the incident that had drawn my attention to it, so I couldn’t fully appreciate its Mutual-of-Omaha's-wild-kingdom majesty. Also, I’m relieved that the duck didn’t actually land on the car, as I’m sure that would have caused quite a bang, maybe a dent, and possibly required a change of underwear. Honestly, where else but in the country does an eagle drop a dead duck damn near on top of you during the afternoon drive?
This duck incident followed some hub-bub two nights before round these parts. You see, I live on a quiet gravel lane and the local wannabe rally drivers love coming down the road and taking the three 90-degree corners surrounding our property at full speed. This throws gravel onto our lawn to be turned into deadly missiles by the mower, cuts grooves into the road that turn into honkin’ potholes I have to navigate EVERY DAMN DAY and generally ticks off the husband no end. Our house used to be owned by a little old lady called Mae, who could often be found out in the garden, cigarette in one hand, straight whiskey in the other, hair dyed bright red, shaking her fist and swearing like a sailor at those yahoos. We hear that she used to break bottles and bury them neck down at the edge of the lawn – woe to anyone whose vehicle stepped out of line as they careened around the corners. Sometimes I think she had the right idea.
A few nights ago, I heard one of these turds come roaring by and suddenly skid to a stop outside of the house. I thought they were preparing to wheel-spin off again – a common tactic – but imagine my delight when I found they were stuck nose first in the ditch across the road. “Serves ‘em right,” says I, “they ought to have to pay for a tow. That’ll learn ‘em.” But little escapes notice in the country and after a few minutes of futile wheel-spinning, one of our neighbors, whom we have always called “Big Truck Dude” came down to try to drag them out of the ditch. He couldn’t do it with the rope at hand and whilst executing a 27-point turn on the single-lane road to go back home and get a chain, his front wheels dropped into the ditch and he was stuck too. “This is not good,” I clearly heard him say. Ya think?
After a few minutes of wheel spinning and pushing by the would-be rally drivers, Big Truck Dude extricated himself from the ditch, got the chain, dragged the turds back onto the road and sent them on their way with a stern word and their damaged front bumper settled in the back seat. Karma’s a bitch, no? But then again, I was the one sniggering at the window when they could have used some help. Wonder what karma has in store for me now?
Then there was the morning a few months ago when a manhunt had every officer on duty in a 30-mile radius from three separate law-enforcement agencies converged on the field in front of my house after a fugitive ditched his car there in a high-speed chase and then eluded the officers on foot. On my way to work that day, I had to clear two checkpoints manned by U.S. Marshals sporting automatic rifles … I was kind of hoping to see barking orders about searching out-houses, hen-houses and what-not, but alas no.
So yeah, not always such a quiet life out here in the country. What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened around where you live?