Friday, June 8, 2007

Pheasants of the world beware!

I recently returned from a trip home to the homestead in South Dakota. Just a quick trip to see my baby brother graduate from high school, and being as it was a 'quickie' I had the opportunity to go it alone while the Hubster stayed at home with the kids.

FREEDOM is a sweeet thing lemme tell you. 5 days, 4 nights with no kids, no real responsibility. It was a much needed and refreshing time, that is for certain. Hubster's experiences were, well, far less relaxing than mine and that is definitely another blog for another time.

I wasn't completely alone, however. My best friend here in Germany was the Thelma to my Louise on this trip. Being a Texas girl and not seeing much of the Midwest "Thelma" accompanied me on my whirlwind trip to SoDak. Wanted to soak herself up some of our fine Midwestern culture and cuisine (behold: the glory that is Taco Johns!), and meet some of the locals.

What I don't think Thelma was prepared for was South Dakota wildlife. The deer, the pheasants, the skunks, and the raccoons. It's beautiful, untamed, and....suicidal.

Three miles into South Dakota, Thelma comments, "Uh, wow...sure is a lot of road kill around here." Me: "Yup." Approximately 50 miles later, "Are there any living raccoons in this state?" Me: "Not especially."

And then it happened. Thelma sees one of her first pheasants, it's flying not-so-gracefully out of the ditch and as she begins to comment on the beauty of it's feathers, when THWACK!! it becomes one with the tires of the Taurus. Said pheasant flew right into the fender well and became a memory. An expletive later, I mutter, "And so it begins. . ."

Thelma looks at me with some concern, wondering what the hell I'm talking about. I tell her that wildlife and I don't necessarily get along when I'm behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. The last time I came home, I wasn't even there for an hour when I hit Bambi. Seriously. I'm certain it was Bambi...spots and all. She laughs and continues enjoying the scenery.

It's getting near dusk and I tell her to keep her eyes peeled because as my navigator, she's also responsible for deer watch in the ditch. Fifteen miles from my parents' house Thelma discovers her first kamikaze deer herd. The "herd" of 3 deer was simply chillin' in the middle of a state highway and didn't seem very concerned at my Taurus roaring towards them at 70mph. It's the ultimate game of chicken and being kind hearted, I relented first. Of course that didn't stop the deer from trying to run into the sides of the car or telling their brethren 3 miles from my parents house to jump out and say 'hello' as well.

We finally make it to the house and in one piece. I warn Thelma that over the next few days she'll more than likely see a few more pheasants and other SD wildlife up close and personal. I don't think though, that she was prepared for the final body count. Dad asks how the trip in was, and I say "Only hit one pheasant and no deer." Both he and mom are amazed at our good fortune.

The following days consist of many rushed trips of shopping, visiting far away relatives and helping in the preparations for graduation. And on each trip there's a common theme....pheasants!

Apparently winter had been quite kind to the South Dakota pheasant population and they were more than happy to greet out of state visitors! Every trip consisted of some psychotic pheasant careening out of the ditch at my rental and Thelma yelling "Dammit! There's another!" and more often than not, the loud thump and crunch of my Goodyear's welcoming our majestic state bird into the great beyond. I think it was Day 4 before she finally stopped involuntarily ducking every time she saw something move out of her peripheral vision while in the car though. . .

By the time we headed to Minnesota a few days later, Thelma was pretty much numb to the roadkill scattered across the highways and the wildlife recklessly throwing themselves into harms {our} way. We both decided that Ford Taurus' take a pretty good beating, as I'm pretty sure we nailed at least 1 out of every 5 pheasants that we encountered and that whomever supplied those breaks deserves a wildlife endorsement for the ability to stop so well while flying down a gravel road and dodging deer!

I'm pretty sure that Thelma will never look at a pheasant the same way again though!! What a trip! Oh and by the way, Pheasants: 0, Taurus: 6. . . .

Out of the garden and into the pond.

It's official. There's no longer a Kindergartener in my home. As of 2:30p.m. today, we have a First Grader. I can't seem to grasp this concept quite yet. As a Kindergartener, my son still seemed like my baby. My lil' man. Now he suddenly seems so grown up as he has an actual grade attached to him.

I'm not completely sure what to do with myself at the moment.

Yes, I know, you're all thinking I'm crazy. After all, school just finished for the year two hours ago and I'm already contemplating graduation announcements.

But in those two hours, a whirlwind of emotions have streaked through me. I'm realizing that I can't stop time and no matter what I do, he's going to keep growing up.

Soon he'll be riding that bike without training wheels, losing his first tooth, and crushing on his first true "love".

First grade suddenly seems like a huge leap to me, like he won't need or want me as much. I know none of these things are true, I mean after all who else will wash his Toby Keith undies if not for mom. First grade does seem awfully grown up compared to Kindergarten - no nap or snack times, more actual homework, and you're no longer safe from all those "big kids" wandering the halls. He's suddenly one of the smaller fish in that big ol' pond.

But have no fear, I'm not completely out of the picture. He came in here a few minutes ago and asked me if I'd be in his school as much next year as I was this year. Oh you can count on it boy-o. Someone's gotta keep those girls away from you.

And while mom maybe a little trepidacious about this upcoming adventure - the boy certainly seems ready for it. He's terribly excited to be one of the big kids and do all the 'cool stuff' they're allowed to do. What the coolness is, I'm not completely sure yet . . .nor do I think he is either!

But one this for sure, watch out grade schoolers. Lil' Jack is on the move. . .