My tan baseball cap emblazoned with a “reduce, reuse, recycle” logo wasn’t providing nearly enough protection. Rather than protecting me, it imprisoned me. The band squeezed my head, the cap created a sizzling hair sauna, and the bill intensified the shimmering, bicycle spoke-like bands of blinding sunlight. I weaved awkwardly on the uneven clay ditch bank, worsened by the holes used by the burrowing owls for nests.
“The hat has to go,” I thought. As if reading my thoughts, a small, feisty mama owl swooped down and sharply pecked the top of my cap, not to dislodge it but to defend her babies. “What about my baby!” My head did an owl-like spin and spotted Taco, my eight-pound Chihuahua who was nearly invisible on the hard-packed, light brown dirt. What if mama owl thought Taco was a desert rodent? I waved my arms and turned just in time to see her descending toward Taco.
“No you don’t,” I screamed. “Go! Off! Get lost!” I shouted as I reached down to rescue my baby. Mama owl was only about eight inches long and her wing span was only about a foot wide, small for a burrowing owl. What I saw was a gargantuan, fire-breathing dragon, and I stood as bravely as Beowolf ready to conquer Grendel. Taco barked, squirmed in my arms, and jumped down to chase the fleeing monster.
Sweet victory! We danced joyfully! I tossed my cap in the air, and Taco ran gleefully in circles. The scorching heat was forgotten, the dusty air ignored. Energized and triumphant, our legs running in rhythm, we headed down the ditch bank—two buddies on a morning run.