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There is an old abandoned farm house near where I live north of Santa
Barbara. Apparently, it was built near an old Spanish burial site, La Tomba
de Blanco next to the Chapel. All the crosses used for the cemetery were
made from a very white colored limestone native to the area. Anyhow, I was
riding my bike near there and noticed a nice stream off to one side and
although there was a no trespassing sign I couldn't resist to take a peak.
I ditched the bike in nearby bushes and scrambled down the embankment. I
started sliding in the loose gravel and slid right into an old dead deer
carcass that seemed to keep moving after I fell on top of it! Thinking it
might be still alive, I jumped almost up to the top of the embankment with a
little vertigo along the way. I got up to the top near the the road and
there are two Latin farm workers staring right at me. I grab my bike and
take off as one of them says "not to go near this area, eh, Gingo". I
pedaled fast. But .....I could not help myself. A mile down the road there
looked a more accessible place to hide the bike and scurried down to the
"I was a paranoid chicken before" I thought to myself. "Yes, that deer was
dead, I just got startled is all". A bit unsettled I climbed down a series
of boulders to the stream bed still trying to rationalize a way to my ego at
rest. As I hop from one rock to the next I come upon another dead Deer
carcass. Then another. This time I don't see the Turkey vultures on the
other side of the carcass and come up on them fast. Five of them suddenly
take off right at me. These are not the little starlings and crows like in
Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" but big 5-6 foot wing span gargolyes. This
time I was plain scared and no amount of rationalization would let me out of
it. My ego felt like it had just slid down a fire pole that turned to razor
blades. "Gunfunnit", I said. My resolve to explore this stream was too
strong now. I asked myself "why might all these deer carcasses be dead and
lying in the stream? "
"It seemed to far to be road kill unless each one dragged itself to this
place before the last throngs of life, but why so many here?"
Never mind any of that!
I found a plant which certainly seemed to be crypt down off to one slow
moving bend in the stream. I look at it and it cannot be any that I have had
or seen before. I know someone must have introduced it from somewhere. It
did not seem to be native in any way. I started to grab it and looked up
noticed a doe grazing on some plants about a 100 yards away. There was a few
of these unknown plants further up near the deer as well. I approached the
deer very quietly. It ran off as a got too close. Or at least that was what
The Lain workers came running down apparently looking for you know who.
I turn around trying not to be seen but they see me. They yell out at me and
I don't run, I fly.
I head uphill off to one side of the stream hoping they will not want to run
up the steep hill. I look back and they are not giving up now that have gone
this far. I see the farm house up above and think they might think I will
hide in there but I don't. I keep going and see the old cemetery. Lots of
big tombstones to hide behind. I notice one of them says my name "Thomas"
that I hide behind. I watch them come to the house and poke around looking.
They give up but yell out a few taunts in Spanish as they leave. Well, I
thought they left anyway. I head down the hill but over to one side so in
case I run into the workers I can still get away. They see me and the chase
begins again but in a new direction this time. I run down to the stream and
run down the slippery algae covered rocks and almost, almost run into a big
patch of stinging needle. One sting and it feels like a bee sting and then
it itches like a bad mosquito bite. I carefully hop through and see a crypt,
I grab it and keep running. I hear some screams and yelps of pain and smile,
making off with my loot.
Back home safe with my looted plant, I look it up in the text. Nothing. I go
to herbarium and find out that it is the Cryptocoryne toxifolia, the most
deadly plant known. "Even if you touch it it can kill" the literature
states. I run to the bathroom and started washing my hands hoping it was
not too late. Was I to join the deer now? HeeHeeHaahHaah!!