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by Frank Shortt
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We did not have chickens at our home in Grizzly Flat. Why were we hearing a rooster crow every
morning just at daybreak?
“The Rasbold’s rooster must have gotten out and is running around our
property! Sharon growled, rubbing her blood shot eyes. We’ll have to tell him about it if a coyote doesn’t get him first.”
“Turn over and go back to sleep! I sleepily retorted. Just sleep on your good ear for the rest of the night.”
“But neither of my ears are bad” She defensively replied.
The first time we heard this early-rising
Chanticleer, I arose carefully out of bed, went to the rear sliding glass door and searched the back yard diligently for signs of
the noisy cock-of-the walk. For several days thereafter I tried to find this bragging barnyard denizen. I was beginning to think that
our house had been built over an old chicken farm and the ghost of chickens past was haunting us, something like poultry poltergeists!
Upon questioning our neighbor, Eric, we were informed that none of his capons had escaped. None
of our other neighbors kept chickens and none had heard the noisy squawker. I guess it was only meant for us to enjoy the call of
the wild. For many days thereafter we suffered this mysterious outcry.
I began to research bird
calls as a last resort. I found out that certain species of feathered friends are able to ‘throw their voices’, so to speak, so this
began to germinate in my, already, ornithological mind. A good mystery had always infatuated me and when I solve the mystery, it has
given me a great feeling of accomplishment. I am a man given to simple means of entertainment.
Early one morning, after suffering the onslaughts of this trumpeter of dawn for several weeks, I arose earlier than usual to do some
work before the sun became unbearable. This task was one of removing Mountain Misery to clear a patch of ground for more useful plants.
If one has never tackled the job of eradicating Mountain Misery, I do not recommend this hopeless situation at all. Most herb killers
will not touch this obstinate survivor. The only way to half-way control it is to dig down to the long-reaching root, grasp it firmly,
and begin to literally rip it out of the ground. If the entire root system is not obtained, guess what? The next spring, somewhere
along the ditch made by ripping up the root, small shoots of Mountain Misery will suddenly appear. But this little yarn is not about
eradicating Mountain Misery!
After slaving at my task for several minutes, suddenly, in the pines
above our home, there came the clear intonation of a crowing rooster! I was becoming weak from hunger about this time as I had not
yet been called to breakfast. Maybe I was hearing things!
“I’ll find you now! I bragged. I’ve
put up with your nonsense as long as I can stand it.”
I began looking in every direction, craning
my neck, looking upward until I became dizzy. Just as I had about given up, there once again came the challenge, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”
Looking up finally to our t.v. antenna, yes we still had one of those old fashioned kind as we did not know about the Dish network
as yet, or if we could even have such a thing in as remote a place as Grizzly Flat. There sat Millie the Mockingbird!
I stood there dumbfounded, shocked, and amazed not even believing my own eyes or ears. She was imitating her larger counterpart, and
not only that, she was throwing her voice all around to intentionally confound me. I was totally relieved to have solved the mystery
of the tenacious trumpeter and was sure that Sharon would be ecstatic to learn of the fact. Now all we had to do was to grab the ever-ready
b.b. gun and send a few missiles toward the errant crier, not intending to hit her, just to scare her. To my surprise, I never had
to use the b.b. gun at all.
“Sharon, Sharon! I cried in my elation. Come see what I have discovered.
The mystery of the rooster is solved. We can get rid of it once and for all.”
Sharon must have
not believed my story from the beginning as she gave me one large raspberry. .
“C’mon, I’ll prove
to you that I am not telling a big yarn, “I repeated, hurt that she would not believe me.
finally assented to go outside and view the spectacle. We sneaked around the corner of the house, both looking upward toward the antenna
at the same time. To my consternation, my bird of song had gotten up and gone!
“Sharon, you do
believe me don’t you?” I pleaded.
“Sure, if you say so, I don’t believe that you are a liar!”
I just left it at that.
It seemed that Millie had become conscious that I had figured out her
game. She never once crowed at dawn again, probably moving on to pester some other unsuspecting family. I have been reluctant to tell
this story before as Milly the Mockingbird had done such a good job of ‘mocking’ me. Maybe someday someone will tell me that Millie
came to their house and awakened them with a loud crow. This will be my vindication!