Our fenced backyard is surrounded on all sides, four neighboring yards, by dogs. They range from tolerable to annoying - although I like Red, even if he is the third in a long line of dead Reds - but that's not my point. Critters like our backyard. If moles and squirrels were good to eat I'd be golden. We've rabbits, a resident gopher (Gus perhaps?), an occasional chipmunk, a happy family of shed mice and even an occasional vole or vagrant duck.
And, maybe something else. Skidders. You know, those mythical, other realm, Middle Earth, sort of Narnian critters. Maybe you've never heard of them. They are a bit overlooked. Left out of most of the great battle stories and magical histories because of their indefatigable joy and playfulness, they've none the less been around since anyone can remember.
Here's how I first suspected that I might have some:
A poorly camouflaged pile of pine cones. Skidders, often called "Skids," like to fling them at one another and laugh maniacally into the wind. It is fairly well-established that this a ritual celebrating victory over some Kingdom eons ago, either that or it's just damn silly to throw pine cones at each other.
They like to pile them up along a fence-line.
I was checking out the yard before I mowed when I saw a couple of these piles. And then I noticed a couple other things:
There was this little trampled circle of footprints in the grass:
And then I remembered another older patch that I might not have recognised for what it was a couple of years back:
Out of the corner of my eye I saw this:
Yep, a gouge in the turf. You might call it a skidmark, it is technically called a "slidemark" and where there is one there are usually several. Now, Skids are all limbs and knees and elbows and butts, it is told, and they make these marks in various ways. The one above is most likely a knee.
This one could be a done by a foot. They do not go barefoot, as was long suspected, but rather wear something they call "muddyshoes," primitive tie on shoes, worn out, split and dirt crusted.
I mentioned before that there were probably more. It wasn't until I mowed that I saw them all. Forty-three, by my count.
There were doubles:
And some real classics. I think this is shoulder slidemark:
I still can't get over how many there are:
They are literally everywhere. There isn't really a consensus on why Skids do this. Many think it has something to do with a gloved ball game, some think it may be from ducking and avoiding incoming pine cones. Others think it might have to do with trying to put a ball through a net at ground level, others believe it has to do with the flying discs Skids love to play with.
I think it has something to do with sticks. If you look around enough, if you suspect you have Skids, you will nearly always find an arsenal of sticks. Just as I found two piles of cones, I found two caches of sticks.:
I reckon I've got two Skids. In retrospect, I'd guess I've had them for a while. Here is a hole, once a bracken-filled ditch, that's been around for five or six years now:
Young Skidders like to ditch and dig holes and trenches. I suspect this is an old one as well:
In their wildness the tend to break things, like playsets:
They also like to climb and have even been known to add ladders to the trunks of trees:
I like having skids. They remind me to be wild and happy and free and playful. They are sweet and right and wholesome and strong and remind me what I once was... and can be again, I just wish they'd close the damn gate...
I am glad you stopped by. See ya again soon.
Um, well, we don't have any fish, at least I think we don't.
I gotta go...