The path I walk to work on winds along next to highway 16A just far enough away from the road so that you feel like nobody would be able to see it if a mountain lion attacked you. Because of this, it’s a little unnerving to hear things (animals, plants, murderers, rhinos?) rustle in the grass as you walk by.
Two days ago it was a snake – I don’t know what kind. Today at lunch it was three small birds that were eerily silent as they flew out of the grass inches from my foot. And this isn’t short, manicured grass. This is nature. When I began work, the blades were up to my knee at the highest, but now, they’re nearly to my chin in places. It’s like going on a mini safari four times a day.
And yes, I do jump sometimes when animals fly/crawl/hang-glide out of nowhere. A couple of times I have even squealed. As a result, I’ve taken to humming or quietly singing to myself as I walk along so that the animals hear me coming sooner and fly out ahead of me, instead of at me. This makes me appear mildly crazy to the tourists who pass me by, but I don’t care. I’m tired of being constantly on guard going to and from work. I can’t imagine living in those third world countries where you have to be constantly aware of your surroundings and I now accept that I probably wouldn’t survive a zombie apocalypse because they would be able to hide in the tall grass and get me.
And there are still two deer who like to hide in the grass until I’m nearly upon them before they decide to run away – usually in the direction of the main highway so that they can stand in front of cars (I swear, they enjoy doing that).
All I’m saying is that it’s never a boring day at Custer State Park.