Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wildlife on the Run

So the other day I was on my 10 mile run. I was barely into mile two, still the warm-up phase for me when I rounded a corner and there crossing the road was a baby possum. It was moving it's little possum butt at a leisurely pace and I was hoping it would get far enough across before I intersected it's path, therefore being close enough to sprint away if it noticed me and decided to purse, chase, attack- whatever possums do. I didn't know. Maybe it was the sloshing of my water bottle, maybe the sluggish breathing of one not quite warmed up with a nice warm sun radiating off the pavement, but it noticed me. And stopped. And turned toward me. I would like to say that it cocked it's head in a cute little way which would have signified to me that it was safe to pass but it didn't. So I stopped. Like I said, I don't know what possums do when threatened but I wasn't going to purposefully find out. I took some good swigs from my water bottle and waited the little creature out. It only took a minute for it to be bored with me, turn around and return from whence it came. I commenced my running and thus ended my first ever stand-off with a possum.

The break was nice and I hit a bike trail that took me behind a housing development and rounded up onto a gravel road, one side being the several acre lots and the other a cow field. Just before I reached the end of the bike trail, I met a mini wiener dog (pardon for the dog breed ) named Shorty. Of course I didn't know Shorty's name until the owner realized someone else was on the trail and called out to it. I commented that it was a nice day and she concurred. Then she informed me that there was a cow loose up ahead. Oookay. I've lived in small town Iowa my whole life. I lived the first 10 years of my life on a farm with livestock. I married a man who grew up on a farm. His parents still live there and I even run through Dad's cow pastures, past cows and the whole nine yards. Cows are not new to me, nor are they alarming to me like this woman indicated. Still, I had never encountered a cow on my runs around my town and it brought to mind my grandpa.

I cannot remember exactly what grade I was in, either 5th or 6th grade, and I was running some sort of meet. I think I might have been running a 200m. Anyway, I looked back over my shoulder and my grandpa, who happened to be there, saw me do that. Well, did I hear it!!! Never, ever look back! And also, run like a bull was chasing you! I've never forgotten his words.

Which brings me back to my situation... Exactly where was this cow loose? What did Shorty's owner mean by loose? Was it a bull or a cow? The unrestricted cow was not quite a quarter of a mile ahead and fairly occupied with the greener on the other side of the fence, across a gravel road, up a steep ditch and into the green, green field behind the housing development. She took notice of me (yay, a cow with no calves!), gave me a quick once over and went back to filling her seven stomachs. The lady warned me that if the cow charged I should get behind a tree. Heh- there are no trees growing next to gravel roads lining pasture fields. I was stuck with a measly signpost. I estimated that I could outrun the brown beast before it clambered out of the ditch in it's pursuit. Besides, I had just chewed my own cud of a handful of Sports Beans so I was fueled if I needed to high-tail it out. I kept my pace easy, not doing anything to spook the poor dear who would soon be harassed back into her proper confines. I passed her with ease, though I did look back (sorry, Grandpa) just to make sure the only ones getting fired up would be the neighbors (If you build a housing development in the middle of a pasture, they will come?).

I don't have any pictures to share with you as I don't carry a camera or phone on my runs (not yet anyway). My possum and cow story pales compared to some of the more "wild"life spotted by the rest of you. It's just a story to tell. Maybe it will keep your next run humorous!

Psst... I still don't know what to do about possums.


  1. Possums play dead when they feel threatened, so your possum was probably trying to figure out if he needed to hit the dirt.


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