This Must Be Why They Call it Wild America


















It seems when you're the new girl in town, the adventure never stops. When you move a thousand miles from your home, there's a period of adjustment. You have to get used to regional differences--weather, unusual driving customs, the quizzical looks you get when you say "y'all." It takes a little while.

Friday was no different. Yes, it was the 13th, but that didn't concern me. Turns out it should have.

I learned my first lesson first thing in the morning, as I was walking to work. I parked in what used to be a parking space before it became a snowdrift, and immediately sank into several inches of snow. As I was crossing what I was pretty sure was the street, I learned that there are some very kind people in the world who shovel the sidewalk in front of their houses. That makes navigation fairly easy. Without this slice of pavement, it's oddly hard to tell what is lawn, what is street, and where the curb is.

This last bit is key.

As I crossed the next street, I misjudged where the curb was and did a face plant right there on the lawn. The little old man who was walking his dog had no trouble staying upright. The woman jogging through the slurry had no problem. I think I even made an "oof" sound as I landed. At least the snow bank was softer than I expected.

I thought one lesson was enough for Friday, but apparently I was meant to learn one more.

Sometime after midnight, I woke up and saw a strange shape outside the window. I lay there, frozen, staring, thinking that surely my eyes were playing tricks on me. That was not a person by my window. It couldn't be.

Then it moved. I lay there another moment, and it moved again. It was a man. And what looked like a German shepherd. And they both appeared to be staring into the window. The man moved like he was taking off his jacket and laying it on the ground.

I bolted down the hall and called my landlord (who lives upstairs), and told him there was a man standing outside my window. He said, oddly calm, "Well, we'll have to do something about that," and I thought, "Well, yes, that would be an excellent idea." Then he said, "But I don't have a flashlight."

From upstairs, he turned on the outside flood lights and I peeked around the corner into my bedroom, thinking I really should have grabbed the big hunting knife when I grabbed the phone.

The yard lit up like a stage, and I saw them. Two enormous deer, staring into the window.

The yard was full of deer tracks, but no footprints. Unless I'd just seen a shapeshifter, there was no man. No German shepherd. But without that snow to prove me wrong, I would have sworn they had both been there. How does a deer make herself look like a man peeking in a window? How is it that my brain can manufacture this kind of man, but not the kind who appears in the daytime and wants to take me out to lunch?

This sort of thing is embarrassing for a gal who grew up in the country. My mother had a similar encounter in the wee hours of the morning--years ago-- when she walked through the kitchen to see someone's breath fogging up the window. That someone was a horse, escaped from the neighbor's pasture. My mother, however, had ventured into the room like Lady Godiva. My father howled with laughter, for years talking about the horse that fogged up the window.

So it could have been worse. I could have been naked. I could have fallen on concrete instead of fluffy snow. I could have called the police, who I think would have been less amused than my landlord.

This learning curve's getting steeper. It's a good thing I'm taking notes.