Well folks, I'm back from a week of vacation (sort of) in the good ol' Lone Star State. (Yes, that means Texas.) I have quite a few pictures and stories from that trip, but not enough time to share them. So instead, let me tell you about the interesting character I met today while out on assignment for the paper.
He was a retired pediatrician who spends his time now planting trees. Yes, tree planting. Before you think of this as a fruitless effort (ha! pun intended), I'll inform you that he did indeed win one of two national awards entitled: Arbor Day Foundation Good Stewardship Award. Don't ask me what it means, but it sounds important, right?
So this guy had over 300 acres of land on which he had turned out a cross-country running course, two manmade ponds, a conservation area, a hand-constructed picnic shelter, and a field trip location for elementary kids. And more, I'm sure, that's just what I saw of it.
I was getting the impression this guy knew nature.
He wasn't exactly a young skipper (he was pushing 80) so after I met him, we rode off for a tour on his trusty little' golf cart. Everything was hunky-dory until I spotted IT. A fat and dirty groundhog lounging in the middle of the uphill slope our golf cart was speeding toward.
"Oh," I said, pointing. "Look at that."
Mr. Arbor Man made some sort of grunt that left me questioning whether or not he had actually heard me. (Judging from the previous leg of the journey, this was not an unfounded line of thought.) But I had pointed, so I didn't mention it again. Meanwhile, as these thoughts swarmed my head, he just kept driving. Heading straight for the groundhog.
I think he sped up a little then, but it might have been my imagination.
The front two wheels straddled the animal, but upon its attempted escape I heard (and felt!) a significant ka-bump. The last left wheel had done the groundhog in.
I gaped, incredulous, at my chauffeur. Turning his head, he glanced at the roadkill and then back at me.
The Arbor Man's only words were, "Those things are a nuisance."
And we never spoke of it again.
Here's his picture so you can put a face to the story, but please don't sic the SPCA on him.
Click on the picture to enlarge it, as this photo is much better viewed large.