Life feels sweet after narrowly escaping three dangerous genetic relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex, a.k.a. "chickens" in modern parlance, at Salem's Minto Brown Island Park today.
I'll share some photos of the attack, but these only reflect the objective state of the photons that made it into my iPhone's camera lens. My intuitive life-loving emotional mind saw these vicious animals differently.
As miniature Velociraptors.
After all, I had no idea if they'd gone completely feral, returning to the primitive instincts of their dinosaur ancestry.
In case other people who use the rural'ish Minto Brown trails come across these monsters, I'll describe the birds' method of attack.
I was riding my yellow Streetstrider outdoor elliptical bike along the paved trail that parallels Homestead Road. I'm pretty sure the chickens' plan was to hide in the brush on the right side of the trail, then jump (or fly?) out, surprising their human prey.
But at least one of them jumped the gun, and I was able to see the chickens before they had a chance to flutter up around my head and peck my eyeballs out.
Or whatever... I'm not an expert in chicken attacks, having only this single horrifying experience to inform my knowledge of how they go about their life-destroying business.
As you can see from the photo above, the chickens feigned innocence once I stopped my bike to figure out how I was going to live another day. Yes, they looked tame enough, but this is exactly how I would expect small feral killing machines to have adapted to existence in the wild.
Lull their intended victim into complacency -- Hey, we're just tame chickens who have wandered off from the roost, nothing to worry about here, bend down and give us a pat -- so they can peck their prey's freaking eyes out!
I wasn't about to fall for that ruse.
Especially after I saw one of them heading directly for my leg, undoubtedly planning to slice my achilles tendon in half with its beak, forestalling an escape on my bike, while the other two started walking around to my blind side in a classic maneuver I've seen wild wolf packs perform on National Geographic animal shows.
I decided it was best to keep my focus on the two chickens who seemed to pose the greatest threat. Remembering the advice of signs put up at Minto Brown when a cougar has been sighted in the area, I stood as tall as possible, tried to look confident, and raised my arms (easy, since they were holding my iPhone).
In the end, as should be obvious, since I'm alive to write this blog post, I survived.
I was able to pedal off -- well, my bike doesn't have pedals, so I ellipticaled my way off -- grateful as the fearsome clucking noises the beasts had been making receded into the distance.
Once I got what seemed to be a safe distance away, I realized that my mouth was dry from fear and trembling. I paused to eat some blackberries. Maybe it was the wind blowing a creaking tree branch, but I was sure I heard a nearby chicken screech.
Had they followed me? Was the feral chicken pack planning another attack? I can't be sure. All I know is that those blackberries tasted marvelously sweet.
A brush with death will do that -- make life seem much more vibrant.