Friday, October 7, 2011

A Different Riff on… “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Pythons and Pit Vipers Prowling in the Palmetto?

The dastardly dog blasted out of my hands and bolted for parts unknown last night when I took the two lab/coon hound beasts out for their nocturnal business. Street smart this dog is not… any kind of smart is stretching it in a description of him. I took the still-attached-to-my-person dog back inside and fetched the flashlight to see if I could find the escapee.
I figured he was off for the night and pictured myself driving from street to street calling his name and spending a sleepless night worrying I’d find him tomorrow… well, I don’t want to write about my worst thoughts.
Food lovers these dogs are, so I went back inside, grabbed the feeding dish and a cup of dry food, took it outside, and clanged the bits as loud as I could into the metal container, all the while calling “Deek! Deek! Deek!”
Meanwhile, back inside, the contained canine yowled and howled, also wanting freedom, or at least the food she heard clanging into the bowl.
The food brought the dog to his senses and brought him toward home, but through the palmetto scrub in the lot next door. I heard his plaintive cries and scanned the lot with the flashlight. There he was, but not moving, his leash tangled in the underbrush and probably the overbrush as well.
Did I mention that I was home alone? Of course I was home alone: daughter was at boyfriend’s, other daughter in North Florida five hours away, other daughter in Massachusetts, and son also in the land of the Red Sox.

At 59, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” is not so much a joke anymore. I’m not graceful to begin with, so I don’t put myself in too many situations where I might fall and “can’t get up.” Therefore, in a rather mindful manner, I telephoned the nearest child, who of course did not answer her phone. I called the second-nearest child and announced, “I’m heading into the palmetto scrub to get the [insert very bad word] dog. I can’t find my Doc Marten boots, but I’m wearing Doc Marten shoes, along with thick socks tucked over my jeans.” For readers unaware of palmetto scrub and its perils, snakes lurk within, and spiders, and God only knows what else. Python owners no longer pleased with the 30-foot growth of their once-manageable pets have loosed them into my development. Palmetto scrub is not a place a sane person wants to visit in the broad daylight, much less at 9 p.m. I continued, “If I don’t call you back in 15 minutes, call me!”
I headed outside, and even had the presence of mind to put on thick gloves. I approached the palmetto and the dog was gone! “Dang! Where could he be?” I then heard another plaintive cry. He had gone deeper into the scrub. At first he was in an area that was almost a path into the scrub, so I was willing to brave a rescue. But he had wandered deep into the growth and rather than calf-high, it was neck-high. No way was I going in there unless I could rustle up a haz-mat suit.
No haz-mat suits being readily available, I wondered what to do next. Call the sheriff? No, how dumb was that? Hello, 911 what’s your emergency? “My dog is stuck in the palmetto and I’m afraid to go in after him.” Call animal control? Not after 9 p.m.
I called my daughter and told her I was ditching Plan A and hadn’t come up with Plan B. I thought about heading down the dark street and trying to enlist my son’s friend to help me. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t want to go tromping into the scrub, either. Fortunately, I didn’t need to wander up and down the street seeking someone to go into that overgrown mess. Just when I decided I’d have to camp out in my car and wait for daylight, the dog freed himself and walked up the driveway. I was so angry, I did not give him the food, but severely chastised him.
“Blessed relief!” I thought to myself. I made my “I don’t have to go into snake land” telephone call, removed my snake gear, went back to my cup of chamomile tea, and tried to settle down and go to bed.
“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” is a tired joke, but not so tired for those of us who find themselves alone in situations where a possibility of injury exists. I’m grateful that I had the presence of mind to make the call, put on the snake shoes, and cover my bases, so my epitaph will not read: “She went into the palmetto scrub and couldn’t get out.”

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