doin’ the rattlesnake shake…

We both see it at the same time. It’s laying in the road up ahead. Is it dead? And what kind is it?

We slow down to a crawl to get a better look. It’s a rattler.

No longer alive, yet I’m still terrified. The head took the impact of this hit and run. The rattle broken off and gone. But this has happened recently. The body is squishy and warm.

My husband knows what’s going to happen next. I want it. I want this snake so it’s life wasn’t wasted. It will come teach with me at the museum. The skin will educate.

He also knows he was the one driving and pulled over so….

But honestly, my brain was on pickle ball just minutes ago so mentally I am a disaster now.

We had gotten up early and were heading over to a park in Apache Junction that has nice, free outdoor courts. I am dressed for pickle ball not roadkill recovery. I don’t want to smell. I’m positive neither does my husband. We also don’t drive an open truck. We have an Expedition that I put things in I shouldn’t. There really isn’t a way to describe what a few week dead coyote smells like. It’s currently down in the shed waiting it’s turn to become educational…I will write about that later.

Grabbing a box, we scooped up the dead snake, put the lid on and threw it in the back of the car. My brain has basically exploded at this point. Yuck!, gross!, OMG this is super cool!, how am I doing this?, what am I doing? I don’t know how… must go to youtube, oh yeah pickle ball.

Adrenaline.

Up until this past April, I had never seen a rattlesnake in the wild. I am born and raised desert. Now, thanks to living around the Superstition Mountain and working at a museum with a very old barn and stamp mill, I have.

They are terrifying. A living, moving, breathing diamondback is beautiful and deadly at the same time. I have great respect for our wildlife. I don’t really have it in me to be the one who would kill a snake. It would have to be attacking my dog or something where I was defending. I’m more catch and release.

Hitting the pickle ball around for a while was greatly needed but still didn’t drain my anxiety. I brought the rattler home, I was going to have to skin it. I have absolutely no idea how.

youtube.

I find some crazy dude in Florida that sounds like someone I would hang out with and watch his video. His snake is huge, but in Florida they have all kinds of crazy reptiles so the one he had was probably average and he was right at home working with it.

But watching and doing are two entirely different things.

This snake body I have is squishy. I have no real area or tools dedicated to this new hobby of mine. I improvise.

Though my husband is awesome, supportive and a Marine, no he is not going to touch this. He hands me an axe and protective eye wear.

The mangled head must go. Again, I am new, this is my first beheading. I am having an out of body experience. I tell myself it’s already dead and I’m just cleaning it but that doesn’t slow the high- speed train of adrenaline pulsating through me.

I have scissors dedicated to this sort of thing after I used them to remove the skin from a Javelina corpse.

I will spare you the rest. How anyone would eat snake I don’t know.IMG_1256

I get parchment paper and lay the skin out flat but realize this is going to make jerky quickly since it’s 100 degrees outside before noon. I go back to my youtube guy and see that if I want my skin soft and pliable I need to soak it.

So that’s where we are now. Soaking.

have you seen the lady with the donkey?

A friend of mine that usually works up in the main gift shop in the Museum came out to the barn Saturday afternoon and asks “Hey, have you seen the lady with the Donkey? Did she come through here?”  Now horses and mules are no strangers to our place, especially the barn, but this particular friend of mine has a great sense of humor and a poker face so this question came loaded. “No, no…?”

I knew it must be good when she told me “Go ahead, I will cover for you, they are in the Museum.” “IN the Museum?” I ask. “Yeah they are inside… it’s a little donkey”

There are people in this world who have such creativity that it lands on another level completely. One of those magic individuals was now alone inside our Museum with her donkey discussing the displays!

I stood there mesmerized, the imaginary spoon going into my mouth because I could not eat this up fast enough. Not one but two new characters had come to life before my eyes! I had to go meet them.IMG_4823

The attention to detail was amazing. Never breaking character I was welcomed into their world as if this was nothing new. I was introduced to Digger the donkey and Wanda. Honestly she has a “W W” something before her name( wild west wanda?) but I lost it because my mind was way too busy absorbing every nuance of the donkey’s clothing and movements. Then as my attention shifted to Wanda my brain went into overload simply giddy with childlike delight. I was sold. I could write down her name and the details later. Someone give this pair the information to come live here at the Museum permanently please! Ok give them the info to volunteer. Something. My boss already had.

A little while later they came out to the barn. It was so obvious that they would fit in as part of that energy that changes our place from ordinary to extraordinary.

With the Museum already having one of the prettiest back grounds the Superstition Mountain, the Stamp Mill and the men who run it, the amazing train and the team that takes care of it, barn dwellers like me, the Elvis chapel, all the people who maintain the grounds or help build the different structures, a blacksmith, the Superstition Mountain Museum still has plenty of room for more good natured, giving volunteers, especially one with a donkey!IMG_4810.JPG

I look forward to seeing them again. I promise next time I will write down her complete name!

Nice to have met you Wanda and Digger!

You’re going the Wrong Way!

“You’re going the wrong way!”

In 1987 this line had us in tears. Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

30 years later…

February 16, 2017 2:30 this morning troopers stopped a wrong way driver on the 60 near Mill avenue after 11 terrifying miles . We have had five incidents of wrong way drivers just in the last week. DPS received 1600 reports of wrong way drivers in 2016.

Out here in Arizona we have also had more than our share of people passing out behind the wheel. December 12, 2016 NFL “star” Michael Floyd was found passed out at a light. Extreme DUI with twice the legal limit, unconscious at a street light.

Professional golfer Steven Bowditch being the most recent “famous” person to have been found passed out behind the wheel at a light. He was out here for this year’s always amazingly fun Waste Management Open. Thanks for coming.IMG_0280.JPG

We live in a time where travel, even free travel, is available twenty-four hours a day. Uber, Lift, Light rail, Taxis, Buses are all out there so you do not have to drive anywhere after a night of too much. But for whatever reason, any help to get home safely continually gets ignored, most appallingly by those who have the means to never have this type of thing happen.

In a world that is beyond consumed with the idea of secret and not so secret forces terrorizing the innocent, my reality is I am much more likely to get hurt or killed by a fellow citizen pretending to drive.

Ask any motorcyclist in Arizona. Last year I personally saw three separate incidents with motorcyclist laying their bikes down.

Then there’s the shootings. Oh yes, we have road rage but in Arizona we also get to have a serial shooter taking aim while we drive to and from work for about a month solid in 2015. From August 27-September 10 we had 11 incidents on the freeways.

Do I even need to bring up cell phones?

Once you close that door and turn on that engine you are a loaded weapon.

We have watched in horror as trucks are now being used to plow through groups of innocent people.

OR…

How about we stop a freeway and cause accidents so we can film a car or truck doing donuts? No, not for a movie…to post online as entertainment.

The reality is, ALL of what I have written about, all the horror on the roads recently, has been done by both men and women. Pick a color. PEOPLE are doing this. People are not doing much of anything safe on the roads at all anymore.

It’s not ok. There is no argument. It’s called Wrong Way Driving!  WRONG!

It sucks… but now quoting “you’re going the wrong way!” just isn’t funny to me anymore.

…as if nothing ever happened

 

There is a patch of desert not too far from my home that, I am told, was the original site of Apacheland Movie Ranch. If I am to believe, this is where from 1960-2004, some 44 years, 29 movies, 17 television series and hundreds of commercials were filmed.

But there is nothing out there. Sure, there are trails used by hikers and dirt bikes but nothing else. Nothing that would tell you the self- proclaimed “Western Movie Capital of the World” was here for 40 years.img_4456

The first time I walked down Kings Ranch towards Apacheland it was lightly raining.

August in Arizona is hot. Random showers during monsoon season bring us relief. I had no problem wandering around in the drizzle to see what I could find. I had walked over alone. I didn’t bring the dogs because I wanted to take pictures. At that time, I thought for sure if there had been a full movie studio and buildings there would be something worth taking pictures of.

There really is nothing out there except for a rock fence that looks like it could have been some sort of corral.img_4418

When I approached this area, I felt this energy then immediately tears welled in my eyes. The only way I could describe it was it felt like someone saying “Finally! What took you so long?”

My reaction surprised me. Why tears? I didn’t feel scared or that I was surrounded by ghosts. I just felt like I belonged there and was wanted.IMG_4391.JPG

It bugged me enough to head over to the museum to see what I could learn.

I learned they needed volunteers and the requirements were easy to meet. I could show up for 3 to 4 hours every Saturday, help sell things in the General Store and watch Elvis pretend he’s a cowboy in Charro! Paid with tons of free reading and education.

Besides, where else was I going to learn about this lost era…for free?img_4272

Born in Las Vegas, raised in the high desert of California and even lived as a kid for a couple of years in BAKER “the gateway to Death Valley”, I can easily say I have desert running through my veins. I had never heard of Apacheland until moving to Gold Canyon Arizona.

A few months and a few hundred viewings of Charro! later, I am meeting people who worked at Apacheland and that can tell actual stories.

The blacksmith John that volunteers at the museum has fun stories. His mom was an extra on the set of Charro! when he was a kid so he was also hanging around the set. Tells me he tried to sit in Elvis’ chair!

The local newspaper The Independent has printed two full page articles about the Stamp Mill and the Train that I have written and photographed for the museum. The monthly Superstition Living printed both articles as well. With my Blog, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram, I can share what I continue learning about this amazing area. I truly hope to be a part of preserving this little chapter in history.img_4250

November Monsoon?

Just spent the last two days getting hammered by wind and rain. We had a very monsoon like storm hit us. I say “monsoon like” because it is November. Monsoon season supposedly ends in September.img_7364

Our heat had started to drop back down into the low 90’s and a few 80’s. So that would be one difference, monsoons are usually during our extreme heat. Storms seemingly pop up out of nowhere and beat the heck out of us from June through September when we reach record setting heat almost every year. Think 110 degrees for days and days. I believe it is one of the reasons people start going crazy out here. Too many days in an oven. We can discuss that another time.img_7376

Nov.3 2016 the valley also saw a haboob roll its way on in along with some serious rain. A haboob is a massive wall of dust blowing across the open and mostly flat desert. When a storm comes up from the south it pushes miles and miles of extremely dry sand into the air and blows on towards PHX until it swallows us up, surrounding us in brown. The valley saw it but we did not because we are kind of tucked into the hills and mountains.img_7386

The radar and most of the weather focus for our news is PHX and the millions who live in the cities surrounding it “The Valley of the Sun”. I would say Gold Canyon is on the far right of the screen where they show weather or traffic. They don’t seem to be as concerned with us and Apache Junction.  We have flooded out here and in AJ before the news even mentions a “possible chance of showers”.

I send my videos in to the T.V station regularly with subjects like “It’s flooding in Gold Canyon!” I don’t expect them to use my videos. I am trying to let them know immediately that in the two minutes of rain they failed to warn us of, we now have dangerous flash flooding. PDR (positive desert reporting)

Flash flooding is just that. It happens in a flash. All that rain hitting concrete like baked earth rolls FAST into the washes and gulley’s. It’s not a day of rain, not even hours of it that causes devastation. It can be as little as a couple of minutes of heavy downpour that turn roads into dangerous riversimg_7536

If you are from a place that it rains a lot, this makes no sense to you. I get it. Go dump a bucket of water down your driveway. That’s what our ground does when it gets hit with a lot of water fast. It doesn’t absorb the water; it almost repels it. Still, all of that water needs to flow somewhere.IMG_7515.JPGimg_7523

We see people all the time out here get stuck in their cars. AZ has a stupid motorist law that if you try to drive through one of these washes and need to be rescued you are in trouble…that is if they were able to  save you. IMG_7553.JPG

We also had extreme wind gusts and thunder and lightning the past two days. Very Monsoon like. But again it is Novemeber and the experts will just say it was just a storm.IMG_7429.JPGNov.4 2016

Today is Nov.7 2016. Most of the water has dried. We have a few spots of muddy and the driveway will need to be raked back into place.

 

Bird Watching

Have you ever had one of those moments where you question advice you have given?

It’s been about two weeks now that my husband and I hiked the Peralta Trail so we could see Weaver’s Needle. A few months back I introduced some of you to the Peralta Trail and its history but needed to wait for the deserts high temps to break before I could go hiking and get pictures for you. The story is very cool. Go back and read it if you haven’t. I creatively titled it The Peralta Trail.IMG_7074.JPG

Anyways, the weather lately has been fabulous with highs somewhere in the low 90’s. For us desert folk, that Sunday morning felt “chilly” so we waited and left for our hike “late” at 8 am. Peralta is a good four-hour hike, grand total up and back, unless you are running and I’m not going to recommend that ever.IMG_7142.PNG

Peralta is a real hiking trail for sure. It’s far from flat. You are hiking up into the Superstition Mt. over big rocks and boulders to get the spectacular view of Weavers Needle. This spot has so many claims of gold, mystery and death surrounding it not to mention the Apache Indians, their belief this is the home of their Thunder God, and all 200 of Peralta’s men being massacred trying to leave this general area with gold, the Peralta Trail will forever draw visitors from around the world to come and see the view for themselves.

We call our seasonal visitors “Snow Birds”. They come from where ever it is cold and gloomy and enjoy the fabulous weather we have this time of year.IMG_7112.JPG

About twenty minutes into our hike back down from the top of the Mt. we could hear a group coming up. Men, women, probably a few teens too, not really sure, but a good sized group. I didn’t count. What we did over hear as we approached were disgruntled women who had been told this was an easy two-hour hike. Obviously whatever other plans they had for the day were now ruined thanks to whoever had sent them on this sightseeing excursion.

They all are basically lost at this patch of the trail until they see us and that solves their navigation issue. Excited men and a few frustrated women ask us how much further to the top. We answer honestly “about twenty minutes”. With this news most of the group seems ready to run the rest of the way to the top but a few are debating turning around.

(Now mind you at this point they have driven about 6 miles on a lovely bumpy dirt road to reach the start of this trail, hiked about 2 maybe 2 and a half HOURS up into a cactus covered Mt. to see a view, then will have to turn around and get back down for another 2 plus hours! What hateful friend or relative did this to them I don’t know)

Now this is the part of the story I have replayed over and over again in my mind. Should I have…?

I turn to the women and smile and say “You’ve made it this far…you don’t want to miss the view…”

and we hike past.

I guess the size of the group made me feel less concerned about safety or if they really could make it. No one appeared hurt in any way. Also, I figure if you can complain that loud about not wanting to do this anymore then you probably DO have the strength to hike another twenty minutes to the top.

But I should know better. Encouraging tired hikers can be a bad idea. A wonderfully “warm” day to a desert kid like me is not the same to a relative from the East Coast. Strong accents told us at least some of this group was not from around these parts. It is painfully dry in the desert and honestly very few transplants can come out here and hike for 4 hours without feeling seriously dehydrated.

And as I always say, there are no life guard towers out here! No one is going to come rescue you if you flop over. Know your limits.IMG_7328.PNG

The flip side, had I sounded worried or concerned about them making the last twenty minutes they would have assuredly turned around when really the only challenge they were facing was mental. Plus, that just makes for even worse complaining if you didn’t even reach your goal and turned around in defeat because wandering around the mall or watching T.V. seemed like a much better idea for the day. (Admit it ladies, that’s a guaranteed bitch and moan session ALL the way back down the Mt. and no one needs that. Besides, your butt will thank you for this hike later.)

We don’t hear them after a few more minutes and can see up the side of the Mt. they have decided to go the distance. I’m happy for them. I truly am. I almost feel proud. I knew they could do it. Going back down will feel much easier.

I’m reminded it’s that time of year again, our birds are back. We need to watch them. Keep them safe.

(I am also grateful to not know any of the complaining ladies personally so later when they are beyond sore I will have no part in the blame.)

Whispers in the Wind

The wind hasn’t stopped blowing for days. I close the doors and shut the windows but I can still hear the wind. The strong gusts taunt me. The whistles. The moans. The howls. The cries. The house creaks and pops.

The wind keeps blowing. Oh sure, it grows silent for a moment, lulling me into believing the torture is finally over, then an even stronger, more powerful gust blasts through, shattering the calm.

I hear them. The whispers. I tell them to stop but they don’t. They can’t. The dry desert wind carries them to me. The whispers in the wind.

I know it’ all my fault. I asked for them to talk to me. I closed my eyes hoping a simple word would come through. I lit the candles. I played along. So did they.

Ever so quietly, soft and light, the whispers came in like a welcome gentle breeze. Immediately I wanted more. I asked for more. New sensations ran through my body as invisible energies whispered to me. I was no longer alone.

The wind picked up. The whispers came faster. No longer gentle and light, the voices grew stronger. Wanting me more. Demanding that I listen. Listen closer.

Now, like the wind, I can’t make the voices stop. I want to leave. I want to run away from the desert. Run to a place where I cannot hear this menacing wind blow. Where I cannot hear the whispers…

I step outside and immediately feel surrounded by voices. I cannot move. The wind is wrapping and twisting and twirling around as the whispers grow louder and louder. My hair blows along with the dry air, catching the voices, trapping them close to my head. My skin absorbs the wind…and the whispers. I can’t take it. I run back inside and close the house up tight.

The relentless wind, barely held back by the locked doors and windows, but not the whispers… the whispers still come through. Circling the rooms. Hissing. Moaning. Whispering.

I run to my bedroom and climb to the back of the closet hoping the clothes will muffle the whispers. My mind has grown numb. I can no longer tell if the voices are outside or inside my body. The wind is still blowing.

I bang my head against the wall. Pain floods my spine but the whispers grow louder. I bang it harder. Dizzy, my heads rings, my body shakes. The whispers echoing, taunting me…

Do it again.

I take a few steps back then run head first screaming at the wall. Blood streams down my temple as I slowly pull my hair from the drywall, whispers swirling around me.

The wind still blows, rattling the house. It won’t stop. I can’t make it stop.

Find some candles. Get the board. I need to do the ceremony over again. My thoughts are swimming in the whispers. I need to try again. Formally tell them to stop.

My head hurts, my vision blurred. The blood has dried and cracks around my cheek. I can’t light the candles.

The wind won’t allow it. No… I asked for this and now I have to listen.

The Trail to the Left

The boys were told again and again “Do not go down the trail to the left. It is too dangerous.” But it is exactly those types of warnings that send boys down trails to the left. The left trail is the trail they heard ended at an old abandoned goldmine. Of course they were going to hike down there to see if the stories were true. That’s what boys do.

The weather that Saturday morning was perfect “hiking to an abandoned goldmine” weather. The boys set out early, both having told their parents they were headed over to a friend’s house.

Finding the trailhead was no problem. The hike seemed easy enough. So easy the boys joked about the story being a bust and what would they do for the rest of the day, figuring no real goldmine was going to be at the end of a clearly marked nature trail.

As the two boys continued to walk and goof off, further up ahead they could see the trail split in two. The left trail and the right trail. The left trail’s start almost entirely blocked by a series of signs warning of danger and hazards and cautions of harm. Obviously this trail was in need of closing but had never officially happened.

The boys looked at each other and smiled. Ok, maybe this was going to be good after all.

Now it was a race to see who could get to the mine the quickest. Dodging every warning sign, the boys ran straight down the trail to the left.

Up ahead they could see the rickety old boards that barely hung by rusty nails, the final barrier, the final warning to stop and turn around. The boys easily slipped between the rotted wood and climbed into the old mine.

Cobwebs hung thick in the corners, a sign no one had come through in quite some time.

No longer laughing, the boys grew even more serious as they climbed further into the creepy old mine. Standing in the eerie, musty darkness, the small travel flashlight too dim, walking safely any further was simply not possible.

The boys decided to head back out of the mine vowing to return tomorrow better prepared.

As they turned to go a low and deep whisper hissed at them

“Get out of my mine…”

Instantly both boys ran to the mines’ entrance and out into the fresh air.Excitement and fear kept the boys talking non-stop the whole way home.  They had both heard the voice as clear as day. It sounded like an old man’s voice. They needed to go back. They needed to try to record this voice before they told anyone about what they had just heard.

The next day the story was the same. The boys told their parents they were headed off to a friend’s house. The walk to the trailhead was now a run.  Running and jumping over anything that stood in the path, then down to the split in the trail to the left. Again dodging every warning sign, the boys ran straight into the entrance of the mine.

Armed with a high power flashlight and their phones as a recorder, the boys were confident they could find whoever or whatever had spoken to them.

Quietly they crept further back, deeper and deeper into the mine. Much farther than they had gone yesterday. The larger flash light beaming through the narrow tunnel carved into the earth so many years ago. The soil above now only being supported by rotted wood long since able to adequately hold back the crumbling ceiling. Rocks and dirt fell here and there, just enough to make fear of a collapse real.

Unsure just how far back into this obviously dangerous mine they should go, the boys stopped to discuss what they should do…

…the flashlight went out.

Standing in pitch black the boys franticly tried to turn the heavy flash light back on. But it was no use. Nothing. They reached for their phones. Again nothing. They were at least ten minutes deep into an abandoned mine standing in total darkness.

Pure fear swept through the boys like an icy breeze. The situation so insanely bad at this point how could it get any worse?

A voice much louder and deeper than the day before “…get… out… of… my MINE!” hissed directly into their terrified faces.

Crazed with fear the boys banged into each other as they took off running back the direction they had come. Running blindly at full speed both boys ran face first into the side of the mine’s dirt and rock wall knocking them both out cold.

There they lay on the cold ground unconscious while hisses of

“…get… out…”

hung in the air above them…

 

Days had passed with no word from the boys. Their frightened parents running out of places to look. Volunteers had gone to every friend’s house they knew of. None of the local kids had seen the boys lately. The phones showed no signal. Searches from the sky yielded nothing. No talk had ever been heard from the boys about going to the trail so no one ever looked there. The abandoned mine was too dangerous to send search teams in unless they were absolutely positive the boys had gone there.

Signs hung on every post asking desperately for any information about the two boys who had gone missing, eventually drying out in the sun and blowing away but never bringing the lost two home.

As the years passed stories swirled that maybe the boys had been abducted. Maybe they ran away? The boys’ parents eventually moving. The stares and glares of the suspicious  too much to take combined with such a terrible loss. The pain simply too great.

It was almost 15 years later when the city finally closed the mine for good. It was then the boys remains were found. Horrified workers told stories of finding the two skeletons  just yards from the mines entrance. No obvious signs of foul play, nothing preventing the boy’s from having simply walked out.

The Cowboy on the Hill

The Cowboy was a gunslinger. Came riding into town on his horse. No one knew exactly from where. Back then  Arizona was just wide open desert. The Cowboy was in search of a home.

Up on the top of a small hill he stopped, knowing he had found the perfect place. From the hill he could take in views of the Superstition Mountain and all the gold it held.

As time went by the Cowboy had settled quite nicely into his small camp on top of the hill. Every day he would ride into the mountains searching the trails. Treacherous, cactus covered, mountain trails leading foolish men to their deaths searching for gold.

Each night as the sun went down he would build a small campfire to cook his meals then settle in for a night’s rest. The coyotes would yip and howl echoing through the night under a sky filled with countless stars.

The Cowboy rose every morning before the sun, riding his way further and further back into the mountain each time. His horse now so familiar with these trails, the Cowboy would simply sit back in his saddle and let his trusted friend lead the way. Day in and day out the Cowboy would ride into the mountain from his hilltop camp.

Before long stories in the local town began to swirl…

See, the Cowboy was known in town as a gambler and a gunslinger. Depending on who told the story, the Cowboy had killed as many as 20 men in a single gunfight. But because he was also known to play an honest game of cards, no trouble was ever had. His poker face remained at all times. Not much small talk. No questions. No one knew his name.

Lately the Cowboy hadn’t been coming in to town as often. This made the towns folk wonder if the Cowboy had struck gold and if so, why wasn’t he spending any of it in town?

Along with the ever increasingly wilder stories came jealousy and greed. Hatred swirled around the collection of store fronts and saloons that was “the town”. Someone needed to go find out exactly what that Cowboy was up to!

One night an angry group of  men gathered and rode out into the desert to the base of the Cowboy’s small hill.

As they approached the hill they could see a light glowing from inside the tent. Quietly they fanned out. The men crept closer and closer when the light inside the tent suddenly went out. Rapid fire shots rang out. Men scattered in all directions.

By morning the story had spread across the valley that a cowboy on a hill had gunned down 10 armed men seeking his gold.

The stories sent gold seekers from miles around to come and try to steal the Cowboy’s gold now believed to be buried somewhere in his small hill. The story had spread far and wide with more and more gold in each retelling.

Armed men coming at him from every side. Wave after wave of bullets flying. The Cowboy the lone target. But after each attack, the tent on the small hill was still standing.

Fear swept the towns folk. Was some type of magic at work here? One lone Cowboy couldn’t possibly fight off dozens of men coming for his land and his gold. How was he getting supplies? How could it be possible?

But as unbelievable as it was, not a single man that had set out to conquer the Cowboy’s small hill came back alive.

Fewer men were now willing to risk their lives by going to the hill knowing it was certain death. A different kind of fear had set in. Now no one wanted to go anywhere near the Cowboy or his hill.

The Cowboy was never seen again. No remains were ever found. His tent, battered in the wind, finally blown away by a roaring monsoon. To this day not a soul has ever come forward claiming to have found gold anywhere in or around the hill.

Years later as homes started being built in the area stories resurfaced, though this time the stories were not about gold or even the cowboy. This time the stories were about strange sounds coming from the small hill. Moans and groans. Gun shots. Men yelling.

Some believe you can hear the haunted echoes from the gun fights of the past. Others simply dismiss these sounds as coyotes calling into the night.

an old wives’ tale

Two days ago a bird inadvertently flew into the house. I left the back door open for a few hours because the weather in the morning was so fantastic. I tend to forget we live high enough on a hill that it puts us directly in the flight zone. If birds aren’t crashing into the windows, they are actively bobbing and weaving trying to avoid the house as they fly by.

My dog Cotton came to my side, nose poke and a whimper, to alert me that I needed to see something or he had to pee. Either way I needed to get up and follow. There was the bird, out of breath and desperately confused as to why the view was perfectly clear but an invisible force was preventing flying through it. The bird flapped and banged, then stopped to regroup, refusing to turn around to the open door it came in from.

It took a minute but I was able to coax the bird gently to simply turn around then off it flew. Besides a little poo on the window sill and a couple of feathers, no harm no fowl.

Thinking this encounter was cool, I sent a few emails off to a couple of my close friends including a picture of the bird.IMG_6503.PNG

One friend responded about an old wives’ tale that I was not familiar with. (my brain then had a full secret conversation: is an old wives’ tale an old tale a wife tells or a tale from an old wife?)

My friend explained:

“Old wives’ tale that a wild bird in the house was a foreshadowing of a family death.  When I was young, a sparrow flew into my grandma’s house and you should have heard the wailing and shouting about an upcoming death.  More than 20 members of my family were there and I honestly thought they were going to contact the mortuary and beginning making funeral arrangements, they were so sure a family death was imminent.”

But then she assures me no one died for like a long time after that!

 

My brain immediately pictures the ghost birds that slam into our windows.image

 

Then yesterday morning TWO birds were trapped in the living room, never mind the fact that the front and back doors were wide open. Nope, let’s flap and bang into the windows so hard we injure ourselves.

IMG_6592.PNG One bird flew out on it’s own. The other is the one I believe left blood drops on the window sill. I was able to ever so gently hold it long enough to aim it in the right direction and then it was gone.

My husband and I cleaned up the aftermath of poo and feathers and blood, then sat at the table shaking our heads over cups of coffee when another bird flew straight through the house! In through the front door, out the back.

In the past two days we have had three birds inside the house and a fly through.  Is there even a wives’ tale that covers this? Any wives’ tales about huge tarantulas on the front door? How about Coyotes wandering in your yard? Or Javelinas walking up the path?  Does Eight Turkey Vultures circling overhead mean anything to an old wife?

 

So if one bird in the house means death, then what we have goin’ on over here must mean death and destruction of epic proportions! Dinosaurs will die AGAIN! The destruction foreshadowed is that epic!

…or

 

It just might mean if your doors and windows are open and you live up on a hill birds are going to fly into your house.

 

…but what fun is that?