The smell of freshly turned earth added a pungent aroma to the mild Spring afternoon. Mom and sister worked extra cow manure into the plowed garden furrows as my brother and I practiced archery under the apple trees.
I nocked another practice arrow against the bowstring and pulled back once again. When my hand reached my cheek, I held my breath, let a little out, then released. “Thwang!” went the bowstring. “Pop” went the arrow into the cardboard target. I smiled in satisfaction.
My brother trotted to the tire swing to pull the arrow out of the cardboard we had inserted in the middle. “Give it a little shove,” I told him. “I want a moving target.”
He pulled the arrow, pushed the tire and ran back to me. I took the arrow from him again and prepared to shoot. He had given the swing a big heave that made it move a lot from its former center position. It also had a slight twisting motion that made aiming even harder.
I pulled the bowstring back to my cheek and followed the tire swing’s movement. “Thwang!” went the bowstring, but this time there was no clean “Pop” sound from the arrow into cardboard. Instead, it went inside the circle and missed the square target. The arrow went through the open space at one edge and bounced off the inside of the tire as it passed.
The twisting tire caused a trajectory change we had not anticipated. The arrow glanced from the tire and took a sixty degree course change and hit my sister in the side of her stomach. She screamed in pain and surprise as my brother and I stared in horror at the accident. Fortunately, the arrow had a blunt tip and did not break her skin.
Humans have very strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.
The car slowed. We watched from the dark upstairs windows. This was the fourth one tonight. All the cars approaching from up the road acted the same way at the same spot.
Most nights, cars cruised the straight stretch at a smooth clip. Cars driving up from below still maintained their speed. Only those approaching downhill were slowing to a crawl at that same place. We knew what caused it. We had done it that afternoon.
Each summer garden reached a battleground stage as the plants ripened. Cows would breach fences and trample more than they ate. Raccoons were worse. They would destroy large amounts just to take a nibble of a single item. Corn was a big draw. Coons would knock down a dozen stalks and only bite into a few of the topmost ears.
We checked fences as the garden matured. Strong fence posts, heavy-gauge wire were the starting point. Raccoon minds worked through weaknesses and the arms race escalated. We added barbed wire at the top for the cows. Electric fence lines at the top and bottom levels bolstered defenses.
Coons climbed the shed and jumped over the electric top wire to get in. They rushed out and took their shocks as they left. It did little to deter their return.
Today we added lights. Not spotlights or general illumination. We added Christmas lights. Colored bulbs surrounded the lower level of the fence and blinked at random intervals. The hope was to confuse or at least disorient the coons enough to keep them out.
A humorous side benefit was the reaction of drivers passing by the field. As they cleared the top of the hill and approached the farm house, they could see the lights blinking in the field off to their right. The spot where they slowed matched the lowest portion of the stone wall and provided the clearest view. Cars travelling up the road did not have the field in view long enough to spot the lights and drove on normally.
We speculated how many would report the strange lights in the field. Would the news have an announcement of possible alien visitors? Should we build a crop circle to go with the lights?