I first discovered my unique talent with animals at the age of six. While waiting for my pal, I played under an old oak tree. Out of the blue, someone pelted my head with an acorn. I looked around, but saw no one. Just as I resumed playing, another one bounced off my bean. A few minutes later, it happened a third time. Determined to catch the perpetrator in the act, I stood still and stared in the direction I thought they originated. Sure enough, another one bounced off my cranium. It seemed to come from the branches, but I didn’t see anyone up there. A moment later, another projectile appeared and I spotted the attacker. But surely my eyes deceived me, for the only living thing in that direction was a squirrel.
The beast darted to the tree trunk, rustled some leaves, and returned. To my amazement, that critter took aim and through an acorn at my head – and he did so with amazing accuracy. He had been practicing. To this day, I have yet to meet another person who claims to have witnessed such an event. Only slightly better are the odds of finding someone who believes my account. As strange as that tale may be, another sinister plot lurked in the woods. But this time I would come home with the evidence.
It was probably two years later when my grandparents bought a camping trailer. We all planned to go camping at Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge, GA. That’s where I first met another childhood friend, Steve Plunkett. He had considerably more hair back then, but I won’t mention that. One of my great passions was fishing. Steve was gone and my family and grandparents were busy with other things, so I gathered my fishing gear and set out for a solo mission.
I found the perfect spot. A couple of tall Georgia Pines stretched upward by the water’s edge. If you’ve never seen a Georgia Pine, they are very tall, skinny, and without branches until you reach the top. When these varieties of pines grow, the branches die as the tree gets taller. Only the top few feet of the tree have branches and pine needles.
As I cast my line out and reeled in a few times, I felt something hit the top of my head. I know what you are thinking, but it isn’t all in my head. I looked up and saw a black bird hopping off the branch high above me, and another bird hopped onto the branch. The tree was filled with these birds.
I’m thinking that he probably knocked a piece of bark off the branch, or a pine needle fell when the birds were stirring. I returned to fishing and felt the bark hit the top of my head again. No big deal. But when I felt two or three hits, I looked up again. My eyes beheld a strange sight. The birds were lined up now. One hopped off the branch, and another hopped on the same spot. Then all the birds shifted. It was weird indeed, but I tired of watching the birdy merry-go-round when my neck started aching, so I returned to my fishing – wondering what a strange forest this must be.
Once I tired of fishing, I packed up and headed back to the camping site. I arrived and said, “Look what I caught,” and held up a stringer of fish.
“Oh, that’s nice,” Mom said, then she gave me a quizzical look. “What’s on your head?” She stood over me and took a closer look. “Good heavens, Eddie,” she exclaimed. “You have bird poop all in your hair!”
Ah! So that’s what they were taking turns doing.
Anyone up for a camping trip? I have a way with the animals out there!
Eddie Snipes 2013