Sunday, October 24, 2010

Close Encounters

We, here at the Aussie Pumpkin Patch, have been away camping for the past 5 glorious days. Okay, so maybe not entirely glorious when you wake up and your tent is covered with frost so thick you hear your husband whacking at it to unzip the doorway so you can all make a mad dash for the toilets, but we did have an immense amount of fun! So much so, that Jayden uttered his normal, "Please, no! Can we stay one more day? Can we just live here forever and ever?" He's such an outdoor fun loving person.

So let me rewind to night number 2. Mr S and I decided to cook some meatballs up on the outside electric grill/bbq. Nana was left inside cooking up some pasta to go with it. Yes, we had access to a kitchen (of sorts) and we took advantage of them. Each of us was busy about our tasks while the boys were in the Common Room doorway asking what they should do. We had the outside doors wide open, which is pretty normal when we're camping, and the dog came running in when he stopped dead and started growling while the fur on his back went straight up.

This sent chills up my back to be honest because our dog barely barks much less growls! He will bark when playing but that's about it. We've had relatives come all the way in our home before without the dog so much as uttering one tiny woof! I walked all the way through the Common Room and out the front door and looked around. I honestly figured the possum Buster had been chasing might be making a sneak attack for the tin of biscuits we had in the kitchen. I was wrong. There was nothing there. I walked out the door, down the steps and peered up and down the dirt paths. Nothing.

Mr S looked out the other doorway at the other end and saw nothing either. The children had seen nothing abnormal in the room while debating which game to play and so we figured the dog spooked himself. Only, his "self spooking" caused him to run out the door and sit there glaring. He refused to enter the building again. Worse yet, he was being very cautious of letting people out of his sight.

Mr S and I dealt with the meatballs and I dashed back and forth between the outdoor and indoor cooking areas to assist where needed and keep an eye on the boys. The dog wasn't happy with any of this and finally took a stand in the middle of walk way that I was traveling. I moved around him and we carried on.

We ate our tea and discussed the fun we were going to have watching all the slides Nana had been sorting through over the past two afternoons. I had the boys so psyched up for this event the only thing that could have disappointed them was the power going out! We cleaned up from tea and then while Mr S set up the project I rearranged the common room sliding a few chairs here and there.

We sat down and I noticed the dog was still firmly refusing to come inside, but after an hour or two of looking at some pretty cute and funny slides I heard him whimper outside. I suggested we have a bedtime snack and I opened the door to let the dog in. He pushed his way into the doorway and his hackles went straight up again! This was too weird for us to ignore any longer and while I looked up, still expecting a possum, Mr S had the sense to look down and follow the dog's view.

Hiding under the bench I had grabbed, but decided not to move, was the biggest Tassie Devil we've ever seen. I mean seriously big. Buster big. It was just sitting there watching us. I suspect he was probably giggling as half the slides, or probably more of the reactions we had to those slides! Mr S doesn't want to cause full fledged panic and says very calmly, "Kendra, there's a devil in there." I turn around and stepped up on a chair to peer through the doorway, and sure enough there he was with a bit of apple hanging out of his mouth.

Very calmly I say, "Boys, on the table now. Right here where I can reach you." they clambered up looking utterly confused. Mr S darted around the building to open the far door and I grabbed a broom before saying, "Nana, you need to move backwards and climb up on the bench behind you." Nana says, "What's going on?"

I say that Mr S has spotted a Tassie Devil and we need to get it out. Nana peers out the window, her feet inches away from the curious wildlife and says, "How on earth can he see it out there?" It was now dark out, and she had a good point, but I was more concerned she was going to step on the devil's tail!

At this point the boys looked down and they can now see it. Morgan screams and Morgan's scream so terrified Jayden he starts to cry. All of which Mr S and I promptly ignore. Such cruelty, I know, but we were more intent on getting the wildlife out before our dog went totally psycho! Tassie Devils have an incredibly strong jaw and if it came down to a face off, chances are our dog would come home with some broken bones.

On top of that, I was equally curious to note if the devil, currently sitting in our common room having himself a wonderful smirk at the commotion, was suffering from the ever fatal tumor disease that is currently wreaking havoc on the poor creatures. This fellow has a perfect little snout, minus a few scars from skirmishes, most likely with his own kind.

Unfortunately, my findings did nothing to calm my freaked out kids, my nervous mother-in-law and my, now agape, husband. He was somewhere between confusion and shock as to why his wife was holding a giant push broom and staring at a Tasmanian Devil's face. I will admit that before I continued to push the devil out of the room I dragged my kids through the half wall into the kitchen and assured them it would not attack them unless they tried to take the apple from it's mouth.

I then suggested they stand with the dog because he was clearly not willing to help us chase the wildlife out of the building! Mr S, however, was. He and I managed to get the silly beast to crawl back out from under the bench where, I kid you not, that devil proceeded to pick up another slice of apple, sniff Nana's embroidery, check out a toy the boys had left on the floor and then ever so slowly walk out the door. There was absolutely no speed about him until the moment we grabbed the camera and took off after him!

As soon as Mr S was out the door with the camera the naughty little devil (no pun intended) took to the woods like there was no tomorrow! We returned to the kitchen to reward the dog with leftover meatballs for guarding the kids; rewarded the kids with pieces of chocolate slice for not panicking and for heading my warning immediately; and to discuss in complete awe and amazement the incredible sight we'd just witnessed!

Then, because it's just how we do things around here, I proceeded to pull out the Aussie Mammals guide books that is well dog eared and read to the boys about Tassie Devils. They were delighted to get down on the floor and note that his footprints (picture coming) were as distinctive as the book described.

Jayden then informed us he did not really cry, it was just that he felt so frightened his teeth shook and when he tried to make them stop his eyes started popping out water!  (I seriously nearly had my eyeballs popping out water over this description!) He then begged us to leave the door open so he could catch a wombat. His request was denied, much to his utter disappointment.


Michele said...

Wow Kendra that was a close encounter! Thanks for sharing that story!

Gae said...

Dear Kendra,
Glad you had such a wonderful family time.
Those growls afre very scary
Looking to catch up soon