• Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Special to the Journal


Updated: Aug 3

As a teen-ager, I likely watched the 1967 movie, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” provided it came to our small town theatre. Maybe one of these days I’ll watch Clint Eastwood, probably more bad than ugly, on one of the many subscription videos. Right now I am far too busy trying to keep my grass alive to watch movies.

While watering, I observed the shadow of something large making an outline on the ground below me. I asked only to myself, “Is it a plane, a bird, or maybe superman?”

As always, it was the shadow of one of those red-headed buzzards, not some beautiful crane seeking out a pond. With a wingspan of several feet, flying high in the sky, a buzzard looks like a handsome super-bird.

On a recent weekend trip, I drove home through Peru, Nebraska. I wasn’t there for bird-watching, although it’s a small college town built upon some steep hills with lots of trees surrounding the campus. Life is pretty slow this time of year in Peru while students are away on summer break. So much so, as I drove through the campus, a buzzard sat eating its lunch without so much as fluttering an eyeball. Up close and personal, his head was as ugly (as….). Let me think . . . . maybe as ugly as an armadillo or a ‘possum.

The shadow-thing is impressive, but most of the time I see buzzards on the ground tearing a dead carcass apart, definitely an ugly sight. Once I saw a buzzard eating on one of their own dead. Disgusting yes, but everyone’s got to eat and they are just part of the food chain. The good they render is helping clean up our environment. The bad thing about them is my fear of their flying right into my windshield.

When I complain about the ugliness of opossums, usually someone has the audacity to remind me they eat ticks. I’ll accept the opossum for its good, but not an armadillo. Though they eat grubs, they also leave a two to three inch hole in the ground for me to trip over. I have no doubts about their lack of worthiness. On an ugliness scale of one to ten, with a ten as very ugly, I give an armadillo a ten for ugliness and badness and a one for goodness.

I probably shouldn’t get started on rattlesnakes, but here I go. Snake lovers, please explain how the one I recently wiped out could be classified as anything but bad and ugly. I momentarily felt bad about taking one of God’s creatures until I remembered in Genesis in the Bible we are given dominion over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. After the third sighting of what was probably the same rattler, I was creeped out and decided to exercise my dominion when a rattler was creeping into my garden garage.

If there is such a thing as a good snake, the little green snake and those with the red rings are kinda cute. Randy, the Black Rat Snake, is also welcome in my yard. I’m told a rat snake kills venomous snakes.

Sometimes good wins over bad, not just in the movies, but in real life, too.

Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson is a writer who lives outside of Centerville. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.

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