Sunday, May 29, 2011

You can't go home before the pig roundup is finished

About a mile from home on Elm Street we saw the lights of cars stopped in the road in front of us. The one facing toward us approached slowly. I rolled down the window.

"There's a pig!" the driver called.

I looked ahead in the patches of headlight glare. A young woman was just trying to snare the beast with what looked like a brassiere. The pig jerked its head away, snapping the flimsy garment. I pulled in behind the car in front of me. The cellist put the emergency flashers on as I got out.

The woman who had been trying to snare the beast asked, "Do you have any rope? My bikini top just isn't handling this."

Do I have any rope? We could probably have woven a sturdy and sizable net out of the amount of rope I typically have stashed in my car. In this instance I pulled out a piece about 15 feet long that's thick enough to tow a car. I know this because I've used it for that during a snowbank mishap or two.

"Is it yours?" I asked.

"No," she said. "It belongs to my neighbors up the road." She gestured in the direction we had all been headed on our way home after a long day.

"They went to get help," she said.

The young woman seemed very confident and capable. That was good, because I did not feel like going to the mat with 100-plus pounds of porker. I tied her a lasso and handed it to her.

The pig had its own ideas. We shadowed it and nearly got a line on it once or twice, but it evaded us and went into the woods. One more herder joined us from a truck that stopped. Then when the pig went into someone's yard, the couple in that house came out to join us. At that point the pig changed course and started heading back toward where the young woman told us it lives.

I kept hoping the cavalry would show up so I could retrieve my rope and go on home. Instead we gained more recruits as our straggling chase took us several hundred yards along the road.

One pair of guys had a snare with them that they intended to use on the pigs foot or snout. The couple who had joined us from their house had brought out a bucket of grain. We tried to bait the pig with it, but a few fumbled snare attempts ruined that gambit. The pig went into another yard and made another stand in front of the house.

I knew this house. An enormous Saint Bernard had lumbered out from it once and bitten me as I rode by on my bike. I'd chatted with the owners. I wouldn't call us friends, but we parted cordially. Still I wondered how they would react to an impromptu pig rodeo in their yard at 10:30 at night.

They actually didn't wake up for five or ten minutes while the herders urged each other with suggestions and instructions and dove in unsuccessful tackles that the pig greeted with outraged squeals and thrashing escapes. We ended up all the way behind the house before the homeowner stepped out onto the deck to see what the hell was going on.

As luck would have it, the pig turned out to be his. We had inadvertently returned it to its home after all. We declared victory and dispersed.

The cellist had left me so she could go on and take care of our friend's cats. I set out in the warm summer darkness to walk the rest of the way home. As the other herders passed me in their cars and trucks they called out friendly good nights. I have no idea who they were. We just did what needed to be done.

The cellist was able to take care of the cat chores and still make it back to retrieve me by the Pine River Bridge. Now for a shower and some sleep before I get up at dawn to test rivers.

I'm thinking about bacon for breakfast.

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