WWK Blogger Paula Gail Benson has two short stories running in Kings River Life Magazine this weekend, "Pelican Spring" and "The Mama Factor." Both are Mother's Day short stories. You can read them by going to: http://kingsriverlife.com/category/kings-river-reviewers/terrific-tales/
Linda Rodriguez is a finalist in two categories for the International Latino Book Awards (given out at BEA the end of May)--one for Every Last Secret and one for editing Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives (with Gloria Vando, Anika Paris, and Anita Velez-Mitchell). Congratulations, Linda!
The second SinC Guppy anthology, Fish Nets, has been released by Wildside Press. WWK authors, Gloria Alden, Warren Bull, Kara Cerise and E. B. Davis have short stories in this volume, which can be bought at Wildside Press, the usual retailers and will be available at the Malice Domestic Conference. Look for "the story behind the stories" on May 1 here!
Upcoming Salad Bowl Saturdays include authors Sasscer Hill on 5/18 and Carolyn Mulford on 5/25. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, send a message to Jim Jackson at email@example.com.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
The Art of Detection in Winter
Every season offers something of interest to an amature naturalist like me, and winter is no different. In winter my deduction skills are honed as I try to solve real life mysteries. Fortunately, nothing involving murder or an actual crime. While Maggie uses her long nose for clues on what has passed through the woods in the night, I use my eyesight and knowledge of animal tracks. I observe deer tracks and know if it's a doe or a buck that's briefly followed my paths. A doe leaves neat clean tracks, while a buck tends to not pick his hooves up as high, thus leaving a dragging mark behind. Was it a dog, fox or coyote that went through last night? Dogs like Maggie travel erratically following scents while a coyote or fox is heading somewhere, and their tracks show this by little or no deviation from their route. The size of the tracks will determine whether it's a fox or coyote. Squirrels, raccoons, possums and rabbits are easy tracks to identify.
Several winters ago, I had a real mystery to solve. Human tracks appeared following my trail. They came from the directions of homes bordering the north side of my woods, followed the length of the back of my property and then veered west. In Holmsian deduction, I surmised it was a man - larger footprints than mine. Also, in the more than twenty years I've walked here, I've rarely come across anyone, and the several times I did, they were male hunters. So this was a logical deduction to make. Another reason I surmised it was a man, and not a woman, is because few older women like me go for solitary walks in the woods. I noticed the man had a dog on a lead. The dog tracks were close to the man's and did not veer off roaming like any loose dog would. My next deduction was that he was an older man and probably retired. His tracks appeared later in the day and on week days when most people are working and teenagers are in school. The tracks appeared on a daily basis, and I started following them beyond my my property so my morning walks became much longer into areas I'd never covered before. I saw the signs he used as markers - a broken branch here, the empty case of a shotgun shell on a twig where the trail turned, etc. - so I knew he must have been walking my woods and beyond for some time before the snow fell exposing his tracks.
Finally, one day when I'd been delayed and went for my walk later in the day, I met him. Yes, it was a man, a neighbor I'd never met. He was retired and had a beagle on a lead. We talked a while and then went our separate ways. I never got his name.
This year I didn't see his tracks. Of course, snow was late in coming, and we haven't had much this winter. I wondered about him. From his back yard, most mornings his beagle barks at us, and Maggie answers, but I've seen no signs he's been walking. Was he okay? Had something happened to him so he wasn't able to walk? Was he even still alive? And then last week, I saw him walking down the road in front of his house with his beagle. Another mystery solved. Well sort of. Why was he walking on the road instead of in the woods? Had he had a heart attack and had to take shorter walks? Was he deterred from walking in the woods because with the record breaking rain we've had this past year, parts of the trail are quagmires of mud, especially in the woods beyond me. Even with my rubber barn boots it's been rather unpleasant walking in spots, and I'll admit, most of the time I've skipped the paths beyond my own, too this winter.
Have you ever had a mystery to solve? Were you able to solve it?