It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, two shots rang out!
So long as it isn’t pouring down, every night Jean and I spend some time sitting out by the edge of the Colorado paddock in a grassy area known as the Adventure Playground. Originally this area was intended to be where the kids climb trees, play sports, build castles and so on, but over time the name has become ironic and it has become the place where the parents sit and hide from the kids.
At night we drink hot chocolate flavored with Armagnac, talk about the day’s events and watch the sky. There’s plenty there: passing planes, satellites, shooting stars. the Milky Way, the moon, the glow from a nearby town, the headlights of passing cars at the road at the front of the farm and sometimes the headlights of tractors working nights in a neighbor’s field.
The chairs are those outdoorsy slatted wood items. They’re not too well built and are beginning to fail – I’ve broken the slats on a couple with my butt and another one is very wobbly. Each time you sit there you wonder if this is the time it finally gives out, how bad will the fall be and who’s going to see you falling on your ass. It isn’t all a total disaster when the chairs break because the chair carcasses make raw material for Otto’s “woodwork”, where woodwork means fashioning guns and knives out of wood pieces, a hammer and some nails.
Jean started this evening sitting habit. I’d play The Professionals for the kids but rather than watching Bodie and Doyle, Jean would sneak off to sip a glass of wine and watch the sun go down.
After you sit watching the sky each evening for several weeks in a row things become apparent that you hadn’t paid too much attention to before. The Milky Way rotates around the sky. The Big Dipper rotates around, too. It is always roughly in the same place but each night it moves around a little. Polaris doesn’t move much, of course. You don’t need to be an astronomer to figure that one out. The moon sets later each evening.
Some times of the year it seems every tractor in the Gers is out working. I know many farmers here seed by the phase of the moon, so I guess it was the right phase. I’ll have to pay more attention to that.
You know where the nearest dogs are. There’s one over there that barks a lot. What’s he saying? “It was a dark and stormy night?” There’s another in the distance, at least a couple of kilometers away, who barks back. There’s a hunting dog in a run on the other side that sometimes joins in. Our retrievers don’t bark with them but they do pay attention to the conversation just in case it gets interesting.
At one point in the year it is mating season for the deer. The buck snort is an extreme sound – it shocks you the first time you hear it. I thought it was a wild boar heading our way, but it turned out to be Bambi’s horny Dad wanting to root, shoot and leave.
After a honey-laden hot chocolate and some evening calm the sugar crash kicks in. There’s a lull in the conversation. You look over to Jean and she’s asleep. Sometimes I’m the one asleep. That’s the signal to go back inside.
The other night in the midst of all this calm two shots rang out. They weren’t close enough to be on our farm, but they were nearby. We hear plenty of shots on a Sunday during hunting season, but never at night. There were some lights in a field the direction the shots came from. Was someone hunting bunnies at night? It certainly wasn’t a silenced rifle and seemed too loud for a .22. A domestic dispute? We would have heard something on the village gossip network by now. Now I think of it, the shots came from the same direction as the barky dog. I’ll listen out for him tonight.
Here’s Kylie singing about two shots discharging together, or something like that.