Back in March I talked about a war raging in my back yard; a war between Man — or at least a man — and Nature — or at least one of her smaller (fortunately) killing-and-maiming machines. (I even used the word ‘archetypal’ in a largely unsuccessful attempt to sound educated and erudite.) It’s a small war, to be sure but that’s good — after all, my back yard isn’t all that big. Still, it has room for the odd Epic Story.
(Of course, I have enough self-awareness to realize that I probably need to do a minor Humpty Dumpty on the word ‘epic’ (and probably ‘archetypal’ as well, now that I think of it).)
It’s a war and the war — like wars often do — continues with no end in sight. Not a lot happened over the winter but with the changing of the seasons things have started to (heh) heat up. (And in more ways than
one two — last year’s ninja-esque assassin has acquired a girlfriend (or a boyfriend I suppose — I’m not real good at sexing ninjas) so I suspect that an entire clan of tiny slavering hitmen (Oh god, I hope not) can’t be that far away. (Five weeks, google tells me.)) This year’s skirmishes have been mostly just that — skirmishes. The slavering monster tried to ambush me by lurking in the hemerocallis. I saw him (poor camo rating) and sprayed him with water, probably missing but forcing him to retreat. One of his buddies tried to destroy my food supply but got fifty thousand Scovilles in the face when he tried it a second time. Another of his buddies moved a plant to where I trip over it all the time. (I’ll cut it down someday so that stops happening.)
Like I said, skirmishes. They send the message that the war is still on without doing significant damage.
But another thing about wars — new ‘players’ often get involved. Take World War I, for example. It started — sort of — when a consumptive teenager killed a couple of people (not exactly) old enough to be his grandparents. One thing led to another and two months later armies were marching across Europe. Four years after that, dozens of countries from all over the world (including, I just learned, Honduras — I guess the internet isn’t just for porn) entered the war in some way.
See? Wars spread.
The same thing (well, sort of) happened in my back yard. What started with repeated homicidal attacks by a single determined individual expanded to become a family affair (I’ll have to start calling them Buffy and Jody) and then they brought in some of their buddies. Well, that happens and while it makes it slightly more dangerous to go out the front door (let alone the back one), it was largely the same kind of danger. I could expect ground-based ambushes and attacks on my logistical assets. Annoying, potentially painful but no big surprises.
Two weeks ago that changed.
I was walking across the back yard to see if my plant-named-after-a-shaman had made its appearance; it’s usually the last thing to appear in the spring. (I remembered to walk around the plant-intended-to-trip-me, thanks for asking.) It was up, which made me happy — not only is it attractive, it’s also a little hard to find so it’s good that it survived the winter. Heck, it might even be spreading a bit. Cool. (It’s also been used to treat typhus and you never know when you might need that sort of thing in a protracted war.)
After checking on it and pausing to ponder the botanical differences between Eutrochium and Eupatoreum, I turned to see if a little yellow flower (not the one named ‘stinking Benjamin’ — that one is purple) had recovered from that time I dropped a moose on it.
That’s about the time that there was an audible ‘thud’. Something surprisingly large had hit me surprisingly hard in the back of the head. Unsurprisingly, I staggered.
There was a flurry of activity from the back of my head — whatever it was was stuck in my hoodie (the one with the logo of a beer company on the front, although I can’t for the life of me imagine why that might be relevant) and really wasn’t happy about it. (It was supposed to be a quick hit-and-run attack. Becoming trapped in promotional clothing wasn’t part of the Plan.) It shrieked and flailed about. I shrieked and flailed about. The folks playing tennis next door smirked — it’s not often they get a show — and flailed about. (As far as I could tell, everyone and everything in a two block radius flailed about.) Eventually I stopped flailing (and staggering) and my attacker stopped flailing (but not shrieking), dislodged himself from my neck and flew to a nearby tree. That’s when I got my first look at him: I’m not entirely sure, but it might have been Terence.
So I learned three things.
- The war is still on and the slavering monster has recruited avians.
- Being hit in the head by a red bird hurts more than you might think.
- Although I’ve been called a pig, um, more than once, that was the first time I’ve been called a pig by a bird.