The other day, as I was sitting on the back steps, lost deeply in thought with the errant sound of wind in my ear and warm springtime sun on my face, I heard two funny plop sounds nearby in succession: one decidedly within a handful of seconds after the other. By funny, I mean that the sound was much like what I envisioned to be flesh plopping down on hard cement, if you can image that--like a fat fish out of water, thrashing with intent on the hard, solid ground trying to find its way back to well, water.
However, I couldn't, even in my wildest imagination, imagine this.
So what could I do but look around for the culprit of this strange sound. At eye level sitting down, nothing was out of the ordinary. Our family dog had long left to sit in the back doorway with the door left ajar, halfway between indoors and out, to keep a safe eye on me. The plants were in their usual places; not a creature was in sight. Just as I thought this, I peered downward towards the lower steps in front of me, and lo and behold! (what I had initially thought to be) a gopher lay there, still as an inanimate object; the unflappable "gopher" fit neatly on the step without any overhanging limbs or nose. I jerked with a start at the sight of this solid, live creature, flat on its belly, a mere footstep away from me. Then curiosity overtook me, and I bent over slightly (since I was already sitting, I was low to the ground) to get a closer look. It didn't twitch; didn't even bat an eye, or wriggle an appendage, or shift its rotund body out of fright. I don't even think it saw me. But I saw it. The plump, thick body, smooth with a thin layer of fur. Fleshy paws and feet with eyes less apparent--and its rounded stub of a tail.
Gopher! I said.
Up I went to find my husband.
By the time I got back, which had to be a short minute or two after my exuberant outburst, it was gone. Had flung itself down another step, and yet one more, and likely bounded into the overgrown hedge, the one with a pretty abundance of tiny white flowers. That would make a great hiding place.
I waited a little longer with the spring sun shining on my face and the whirling of wind around me--but it didn't come out again. The smart creature, it turned out, was not a gopher, but a mole.