|Come into my house, Gretel!|
Fox and Grouse by Donna Smith
“Oh, do come right in, come into my house!
We’ll have a great time,” Said fox to the grouse.
“No, thank you, dear fox,” grouse had to decline.
“I think I’ll go home, it’s ‘most time to dine.”
“Stay here for dinner; sojourn for a while!
I’ll make you dessert,” he said with a smile.
“I’ll not be dessert nor put into chowder!”
Groused grouse to old fox. “You crafty, foul fowler!”
I had to post my Fox and Grouse poem that was on Think Kid, Think. Partly because we are getting to the time when a couple of years ago in early April, we were befriended by Gretel (though, now I believe it was Hansel really).
My husband had gotten out his .22 to sight it in just in back of our house in the woods, and as he was walking along in the damp, brown "leaved overs" of fall covering the ground, carrying the rifle in one hand and some targets in the other, up strutted a brown grouse. The Ruffed Grouse followed him from the woods to our house. My husband called me out to see what followed him home. She stayed close to his heels wherever he went, and then I found that she would also follow me. She was captivated by my flowing skirt.
From that day on, she was like a pet, and we named her Gretel. She was very bold and wanted to come in the house, following us up the steps and to the door. When we'd go in the house she would eventually leave, but wouldn't stray too far. Later she discovered we had a sliding glass door in the back (where someday we'll build a deck). It is a bit high with no steps or deck yet, so she would sit on a fallen tree in the back yard and watch me at the computer at the kitchen table. A couple of times she flew up to the door and tried holding on the the bit of the edge of the door, trying to balance there to get a better look into our world. The cat was mesmerized on the other side of the glass.
It was a bit intimidating at times, as she'd ruffle her feathers and stand tall and sometimes peck at your ankles...not too hard...but aggressively at times. If you are my age, it would put you in mind of the Hitchcock movie, "The Birds".
As my husband would walk around picking up sticks before mowing the lawn, she would often grab my husband's pant leg and hold on as she got kind of dragged along. It didn't seem to faze her, she'd hang on until she got tired of the game and then she'd let go and run along beside him. And as he drove along on the riding mower, she'd run along behind him. If he was sitting on the rock in the front, she'd get on his lap. We tried to pat her, but that wasn't her thing. So we settled for being followed and having her get on our laps.
It was difficult to leave the house sometimes - well, all the time. It got so that I'd try to run to the car if I needed to go somewhere. But she'd appear out of nowhere and hustle right up to your ankles, making it difficult to close the car door safely. As the car would start to move, she'd circle it, and somehow manage to avoid getting run over - we couldn't see her very well as we backed up. Then she'd race off...no, it was more of a waddle-run... behind the departing car. The faster she her short legs moved, the farther out her wings would stretch until she was in flight. Ruffed Grouse are really neither running, nor flying birds, but she'd do both to stay close to us, ar least for a bit When the car got onto the paved roadway at the end of our gravel driveway, she'd land and stop to wait for our return. Well, we thought she waited anyway. We learned later that if we weren't home, she had discovered that sometimes our neighbor across the road was home doing some gardening in his yard and visited him, too! When we returned though, she was right there to greet us again. The FedEx man still asks about her.
It was such an amazing year. She stuck around from the first of April until December. Late in the fall she sustained an injury somehow and had a limp. Probably a fox in the area, as she wasn't too afraid of our Golden Retriever. She probably got lured in for dinner, but escaped that time.
She did not return in the spring. I miss her low happy purr, her agitated humming. I still expect her to appear out of the hemlock when I go outside. I miss looking in my rearview mirror and seeing her flying after the car.
I hope someday one of her relatives comes to live here.
|December - the last time we saw Gretel|