The path we took to this point cuts to the left and we decide to continue following it. Within a few yards we were back into the woods and the path proceeded clearly in front of us. It was flat and the walking was easy. We quickly came upon an open stand of pine trees. I love running around under a stand of pine trees. The footing is soft and fairly clean and the sound is so peaceful. We slow our pace and enjoy the surroundings. “So, Tuf. Ya think that was just a big bird we heard back there?” He no longer seems rattled at all so I take that as agreement.
We approach a fork in the road and take a seat on a nearby stump. “Which way do we go, Tuf?” At that Tuf rolls over and starts twisting and turning, scratching his back on the pine needles. “You don’t much care do you?” We take the left path, as it seems a bit flatter, and head deeper into the woods. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been down this path, Tuf.”
It was not thirty seconds after that we both saw it. A pile of poop. As quick as I realized what it was Tuf was picking up speed. I was able to catch up and thwart Tuf’s efforts to do his patented nose dive and roll into, on and then all over that pile of poop. There are some things I just will never understand about Tuf and his affinity with rolling around in anything smelly is one of those things. I grab hold of his collar as we get closer to the pile.
It is a hefty pile; certainly larger than from a deer. There were no clear signs around the pile to suggest what relieved itself here so all I could do was wonder. Poking a stick into the pile I realize that it is rather old and dry. “That’s probably a good thing”, I suggest to Tuf. “We had best be on our way.”
As we continue further into the woods it becomes noticeably cooler and a bit darker. Both Tuf and I stop and tilt our heads in the direction of what sounded like whistling. We walk a bit slower trying to determine what is making this noise. We enter into an area of thicker brush and continue through. As we reach the end of the brush we begin to see the outline of a house; actually a cabin. Well, truth be told it was more like a shed. It was from this shed that the whistling was coming. “Hmm, I never saw this before,” I whisper. I put my hand on Tuf’s neck and I feel that he is shaking. “Come on boy. It’s OK.” I take hold of his collar and we move closer to the shed. We walk carefully around the side of the shed. The whistling seems to be coming from around the next corner of the shed. It’s a very happy tune. Tuf and I slowly approach the last corner and as I round the corner I am also stretching my neck. I’m not sure what I am worried about; it’s such a happy tune.
We pass by a shrub at the corner of the shed and step into the open. It is an old lady working on something with her hands. Not sure what it is, but it has her complete concentration – except what is needed to keep the tune going. So happy.
She slowly lifts up whatever it is she is working on and takes a long, purposeful look at it. As she places it back down she glances our way and lets out a scream. I just about jump out of my skin. My hand lets go of Tuf’s collar and all I here is a quick, serious “yipe” and then the sounds of an uncoordinated scramble with intermittent toots. There is a bizarre rhythm to it all.
I regain my composure and let out a quick, “Tuf, come here!” Tuf stops where he is and the look on his face says, “I am right here and right here I will stay… toot.”
“I am so sorry ma’am. We were just passing by and, and… well, we heard you whistling.”
“Whistling? So, you figured the thing to do was to sneak up a scare the bejeebers out of me, huh?”
“No, ma’am. Like I said, we were just passing by…”
“’We’, you mean you and your fearless companion over there? By the way, what is that smell?”
“It’s a long story, Ma’am.”
“Well, you better come over here and sit down with me and let us settle ourselves down.”