I hate getting caught in the middle of a shoot-out when I’m half-way through my run. (Or, indeed, at pretty much any stage of my run.)
Hang on, just let me do a bit more work on the giant crochet house/garden project (that REALLY is nearly finished). Gotta steady my nerves. Is it me, or do these attempts at daisies on the lawn resemble fried eggs? Sigh. Back to the drawing board.
We live in the countryside, so like it or not, people shoot things and then eat them. (Sometimes they even cook them first.) It’s not at all uncommon to hear shots or to see spent cartridges lying in the mud. So as I ran the other morning, I didn’t pay much attention to the noise of a gun going off to my left, even though the sound was quite close. But meh, I was fine, right up until I started hearing shots close by to my right as well. Hmm, that wasn’t good.
And at the same moment that I heard another shot, what I think was a partridge scuttled across the path not far ahead, then disappeared into the hedge. No I didn’t catch a photo, but here are some partridge loitering outside my parents’ house in the snow at Christmas a few years ago:-
Back to the bird in hand (whose worth presumably halved as it dived into the bush). I’m not sure whether the partridge knew that it was theoretically safe because open season for most game birds is over by late spring. But you can’t blame it for not taking chances. And maybe whoever was firing those guns (neither of whom I could see) didn’t care about the law anyway, and just fancied a really tasty dinner. Whilst I did feel sorry for the partridge (which is hypocritical because I do eat meat), I was also increasingly not enjoying being near the thing that people were possibly trying to kill.
Being cursed with both an anxious disposition and a very active imagination (two traits that I suspect cruelly co-occur for quite a lot of folks), I began to worry about whether I’d get peppered with lead-shot by mistake. Not that I look much like a partridge, especially when I’m wearing fluorescent snot-coloured lycra running gear, but not being an especially competent athlete, my scurrying scamper could, at speed, perhaps be mistaken for the gait of a partridge. I slowed down as I got close to where I’d seen the bird.
Maybe I should have turned round and gone back the way I’d come, rather than risking crossing the poor partridge’s path, but that would have meant running a very long way, and I’m cursed with an anxious disposition, a wild imagination, AND LAZINESS. So I carried on.
I passed the exact point where I’d last seen the bird, and managed not to get shot. Well that was a plus.
But what if the two shooters were actually sworn enemies, taking a pop at each other from either side of my path? I slowed down, not wanting to confuse these still-invisible adversaries.
And then, the most worrying thought of all… What if – and you’ll have to bear with me whilst I explain a little – they were such experienced marksmen that they’d started going deaf from all those years of noisy guns (although such experience would also have made them terrifyingly skilled shots)? So when the organizer-person-thingy had said to them that morning, “Go shoot some pheasant,” what they’d mistakenly heard was, “Go shoot some peasants,” in which case I was doomed, not having a single aristocratic bone in my body.
I speeded up again. All that high-viz clothing made me rather an obvious target. Camouflage would only have been an option if I’d been running through either (i) a tulip field, or (ii) a children’s soft-play area. So all I could do was try to run in a very fast and very non-peasanty way. I’m not sure I really succeeded at either of those, but I managed to get home unscathed… where I found a bunch of red kites circling in the sky above our driveway, sensing my exhaustion and clearly anticipating imminent carrion after all this carry-on.
“Pick on someone your own size,” I growled at them, which to be fair was pretty much what they were doing, because I’m not very tall and those birds’ wingspan is BIG.
But at least I was home. And I realized that I’m cursed with anxiety, an overactive imagination, laziness, AND STUPIDITY.
And hey, at least I didn’t get shot.
As far as I know, the partridge lived to waddle another day.