by Wilma Mazo

So, it’s six o’clock a.m., and I hear such a clatter on the road right in front of our house, that I can’t possibly overcome my natural inclination for voyeurism (another affliction, I have recently learned, which is just part of the human condition), and I spring from my bed to see what is the matter. I hear the, unmistakable by now, sound of the snowplow and another sound as well, the whining of tires, which cannot gain purchase on a slick surface and are only digging themselves deeper into their predicament.

I tear open the window and pull up the shade, when what to my wondering eye should appear but the stopped plow and a white SUV. I quickly reconstruct what I imagine has just transpired: The plow driver had been heading in one direction on our road, which is fairly narrow at this point, and not expecting to see another vehicle at this unlikely hour on a very snowy morning, had been plowing the center of the road. Along came the driver in the white SUV from the other direction, quite possibly a little too rapidly, considering the conditions. Quickly swerving to avoid the oncoming plow, she slid into the ditch, which is very deep in that spot.

She is now out of her vehicle as is the plow driver, both gesticulating their possible solutions to this dilemma. She gets back into her vehicle, apparently attempting to follow some advice he has just given but to no avail. She again gets out, and now he gets in, trying to rock her SUV out of the ditch… no luck. But, then he gets a “eureka” look on his face. (I could practically see that light bulb go on over his head). He has apparently just remembered that he is carrying dirt in his truck, and it could provide the necessary traction. Will this be the solution?? By gosh, it is indeed!! Her vehicle slips right out onto the road.

So now they both drive off in their separate directions, right? Nope. There is more to tell: We have a resident grouse, a cute, fat little thing, which is so tame it has even perched on Allen’s shoe and looked up into his eyes adoringly. (At least it looked like adoration to me). Well, besides its other endearing characteristics, “our” grouse is also voyeuristic, and like me, it has been watching this entire scene. So there it is, out on the road looking up at the woman and then at the plow driver in turn. Now that they have solved their problem, they spot the grouse and simultaneously begin kicking snow at it. I can’t decide at this point whether to shout and chastise them for their inhumane treatment or call the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Grouses (SPCG). I decide to do neither and just watch to see what develops. The grouse, now becoming more grouse-like, based on what I have been told about grouses, begins to chase the plow driver, who makes a dash for the cab of his truck to escape the vicious onslaught of this tiny creature. Pfew, he makes it in time. But the grouse takes a swift turnabout, and seeing the woman still standing in the road watching, hurls itself in her direction. She sees it coming and runs to the safety of her SUV, quickly slamming the door in its cute little face. Now I see this tiny grouse standing in the middle of the road looking back and forth at the truck and the SUV.

I am laughing so hard, I wake Allen who has been making contented sleeping sounds. Watching animals in the wild unobserved can be a wonderful, gratifying experience, as you have read in other Outdoor Journal columns, but observing human beings interacting with them can be a real hoot!

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