While laying against an olive tree on the island of Crete reading Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov
a young Greek lad and his pretty sister approached me with a goat being led by a short rope.
”Σας αρέσει η κατσίκα μου?” ( Do you like my goat?)
Not quite sure what the proper response was, being an Italian American of 18 years old and just passing through, but speaking some Greek, I hesitated…never a good idea to insult the locals.
And in a blink of the eye its throat was slit and it was dead…I nearly lost my breakfast on the spot…
”Καλά, έχουμε μια γιορτή απόψε και είσαι ο καλεσμένος μας!”
(Good , we are having a feast tonight and you are our guest).
My only thought was “ OMG!!! My answer killed the goat !!! ”
Yesterday I arrived first in Henry, Illinois and with my yellow jersey got to choose my camping spot. I knew it was going to be a stormy night and chose part of a cement slab beneath a covered pavilion which would be out of the rain. As the next five riders rolled in they quickly filled up the remaining spots leaving a grassy field for the late comers. Assured of a dry night I walked up the hill to the showers past a flock of geese who chattered away at me with some sense of urgency.
Not speaking ““GOOSE” I had no way of knowing what they were saying and proceeded on. As I looked back I noticed Angel and Flossie giggling away with the geese…Flossie speaks “GOOSE”.
Laundry and grocery shopping followed and I stored my things in anticipation of the late afternoon storm.
Off to the southwest we watched the black clouds approaching from down river, pre-funnel beasts dipping towards the land.
Just as we six were about to hunker down, a kind Park Workman came over with a warning…
“You picked the worst spot to set your tents! Look there, see than drain pipe pointed at you? See those hills above you? Guess what happens when it starts to rain….If you want I will try to sand bag the other end of the pipe for you but we have to do it NOW!”
Out we rushed to carry big sand bags to plug the entrance hole . All Hell let loose and we rushed back to our tents avoiding the cats and dogs.
We peeped out of our tents to see if the bags were holding only to realize that we had created a lake behind the drain now flowing over its banks….towards us!!!
Flossie, Angel, and the Geese were cackling away beneath a dry roof…up the hill…
More and more the water rose until it topped our cement floor and…we got wet…really wet…
And then all of a sudden the rains stopped…we came out of our tents and looked at the wet mess…and stood around and fussed…
Thinking the storm was over…rather than clean up we decided to go eat a Mexican dinner…
seemed to make sense…the chaos was going nowhere…
We returned an hour later to learn more storms would arrive in the middle of the night…so with some effort we moved our dripping tents and inside things… to the grassy knoll next door.
Angel, Flossie, and the Geese ate popcorn and watched the human show…
It rained all night but we stayed dry…
This morning the same Mexican restaurant opened early just for us and we had a good meal before heading out to 40 miles of miserable cool drizzle.
All along the trek Killdeers swooped at us protecting their roadside nests.
Though I don’t speak “BIRD” it was not hard to tell they were saying ““STAY AWAY FROM OUR NESTS”.
The drizzle turned to mist and finally cleared leaving behind a grey cloudy day of 35 more miles. The only creatures happy were the ducks, quacking away in “DUCK”, on small streams…Flossie speaks “DUCK” and stopped to chat…and the ever present giant windmills churning away.
Over the last stretch of my ride I passed a herd of goats minding their own business in a field.
I decided to stop to try to talk to them, jealous of Flossie’s skills, but they just looked at me like I was a dumb Human…so true…the past 24 hours of animal speech had been the wisest thing I had not understood.
Curious that I kept trying they all gathered close ninnying away at my attempts.
Just as I started to get the hang of their grammar the farmer pulled up.
Now I speak “Illinois” having lived hear a while, so no trouble with him.
“ Wat ya doin with ma goats? Da ya like em?”
Whoa baby!!! Flash back!!! I answered that wrong once!
“ Just talkin to em….Kin I Take ther pickure?”
““Gunna make munie with em?”
He laughed and drove off leaving me with wide eyed goats, next to Flossie and Angel who had all been holding their breath…
…thinking I might say “Nai’” yet again…
In heavily accented “GOAT” to them “Nannyyyy Nay Nay Nin! ”
( Rest easy babies, not this time, not again)
Angel and Flossie smiled at me with a big grin, and off ran the goats to live another day again.
10 miles later I pulled into Orion where we were hosted by a church who washed our wet clothes, gave us shelter from any lingering storms, and fed us a wonderful meal of of lasagna, salad, deserts…but no goat…