I don’t know if it gave up or it’s trapped. I jumped off the Trail and mushed through the woods for a closer look.
It’s definitely lost its jaunty attitude. It’s just a lost ball now. I would have gone closer still, but there was a stream between it and me and the rank smell of skunk in the air – so I stayed where I was. I did find two more balls nearby – one a small mass of disintegrating rubber that I tossed in the stream for fun, the second a nearly-new baseball with EBERSOLE written across it. I threw EBERSOLE across the stream to keep the red ball company, shrugged at the clay feet of my erstwhile idol, headed back toward the Trail, and happened on this:
It’s a Rather Amazing Tangle of Vines. I can’t imagine what it must look like when it’s leafed out; it’s pretty damned forbidding when it’s bare. It’s like some kind of alien growth. Some of the vines are thicker than my arm. It didn’t help when, further along in my walk, I saw this:
It’s like some Longnecked Snakeheaded Man-Thing. It looks like it could have easily extruded the Rather Amazing Tangle of Vines, belched and called it a day. I don’t know how I’ve missed it on other jaunts on this section of the Trail; it’s over nine feet tall and positively baleful. And don’t try getting closer to it, either – those slender green branches in the foreground are full of thorns. Spooky.
I had to bring myself back to earth by doing a little birdwatching. I didn’t see anything new, although I did spot a pair of Rufous-Sided Towhees (no, I’m not making that up) scuffling around the base of a shrub. I “pished” at them (a birder thing where you make a sort of breathy “psh” sound through pursed lips – it’s supposed to sound like a baby bird) and they seemed confused, then troubled, then got the hell out of there. I heard them somewhere in the distance, calling, “Towhee? Towhee?” which probably translates to “Wasn’t that the biggest, ugliest baby bird you ever saw?”