Today I worked on my front porch all day. OK, maybe not ALL day, but from just after noon until nearly six this evening. Last weekend was spent pressure washing the decks front and back and this weekend is for treating the wood with a fresh coat of protection. Railings take forever, but the results are pretty good.
I had just cleaned my brush, fed the cats and dog and was heading into the house when I heard my phone ringing. I answered to find my pond association president on the line. "Judy, your neighbor across the pond, you know, Gail? She used to serve on the board?" I assured him I did, indeed know Gail. "Well, she's had a mule go missing. She thinks it went down the way of the power lines near your property...."
Well, I told him I had seen no mule, but, in the interest of helping a neighbor and helping a beast of burden in need, I promised I'd go take a hike. And hike I did. With the water yet to return to the pond, the pond floor is covered in tall, thick grasses and weeds. It is really quite beautiful, though tough to walk through. It occurred to me that I might should have considered changing out of my shorts and donning some long pants before endeavoring on my hunt, but once I was shoulder deep in the weeds, I guess it didn't really matter.
My dog and two cats followed dutifully. Well, Killian raced ahead and back, ahead and back, but the cats were more cautious. Still they all wanted to see where I was going and what I was doing. We hiked to the power lines, we hiked along the power lines, we hiked to the edges of the creek that will eventually once again fill the pond once the dam and spillway are completed. But we found no mule.
As the light started to fade in the sky, I decided I'd better head back home. As I came closer to my property, I saw two other people in the tall grasses. I couldn't make them out, but figured they must be on a similar mission to mine. "Are you looking for a mile?" I asked. "Yes, how did you know?" they seemed astonished I was out there. I explained about the phone call and they told me they really didn't know where he'd gone off to, the mule. "He is 35 years old and a dark gray, almost black." I reported that I had not found him on that end of the pond, and neither had I seen any evidence of a mule having passed through.
They were peering across the pond in the other direction, thinking they might see something behind another neighbor's dock. I offered to hike down there and take a look, since they would have to cross the creek to get there themselves. So, another long hike and another failed attempt to locate the mule later, I returned to the middle of the pond floor. I told them I hoped they were successful in locating the mule, they thanked me, and I headed back in.
As I entered the house, it occurred to me that I sure hope nobody shoots that mule. It's hunting season here and I have already heard calls on the scanner for a hunter who fell out of his tree stand, and people shooting too close to residential areas. And as darkness fell, ten minutes after I got inside, I heard gun shots. Six of them. I hope they find the mule.