Magical Mystery Tour? Nah. With apologies to Messieurs Lennon and McCartney, I do not think there is mention of a southbound freight train in “Magical Mystery Tour.” I’m guessing there has to be a country music song with lyrics about such a train... By the way...the photograph is explained in the column... Went out looking for geese one day last week...found...turtles...including this one...which was out enjoying temperatures in the 60s in the middle of winter...

Thank you, Clarence, for paying attention...

Please read this...

Do you believe in guardian angels?

We’ll get back to that question in just a bit. But first, a few words about one of the photographs which accompanies this week’s column.

During the afternoon of the 11th day of the first month of the now not so new year of 2023, yours truly went for a ride out to the Mississippi River bottom lands in Union County. 

My goal was to find...and to photograph...waterfowl at the Union County State Fish and Wildlife Area...that place most of us pretty much know as the refuge. Photographs of waterfowl did not happen. Truth be told, I did not see a single goose...or duck...or any other feathered creature which frequents the water. At one point, I did hear what sounded like geese off in the distance...beyond a tree line, west of the road that goes through the refuge.

I did see a turtle in water which is parallel to the railroad tracks on the west side of the refuge. The railroad tracks themselves are parallel to the Great River Road, also known as Illinois Route 3. Didn’t expect to see a turtle in January, but the temperature that day was in the 60s. Which, I suppose, explained the other turtles I saw in some water near a wooden plank bridge in suburban Ware.

Now...about that photograph...of a train. Really, it is a train. Sometime, fairly recently during the Journey Through Life, I came across an old kaleidoscope at home which happened to be falling apart. (The kaleidoscope, not home.) I kept the lens, thinking it might come in handy some day for taking a photograph. 

I had the kaleidoscope lens with me during my journey to the bottom lands. While waiting for a southbound train to make its way through a railroad crossing at the refuge, I stuck the lens in front of my camera and took some pics...including the one you get to see this week. Such things happen when I have too much time on my hands. And, these days, I do indeed have more time on my hands. Too much? I’m still figuring that out... 

Enough about adventures in the bottom lands...

So...I’ll ask again. Do you believe in guardian angels? Monday evening, I’m pretty sure a guardian angel was watching over yours truly. He may have been an unseen passenger in the car. For all I know, the angel might have been Clarence. He might have some time on his hands, now that the Christmas holiday season has come to an end.

Monday evening, yours truly had left The Paragraph Factory and was motoring home on old U.S. Route 51. Just outside of Anna, I couldn’t help but notice an oncoming vehicle which seemed to be intent on joining me in my lane. Thankfully, the other vehicle, perhaps with some assistance from Clarence, quickly edged back to where it was supposed to be.   

Thank you, Clarence.

Shortly after that unsettling encounter, while I was somewhat calmly attempting to get safely home, I happened to look off to my left. There was a deer, with ghostly eyes glowing in the dark. The deer was right along the highway. Thankfully, the deer stayed put.

Thank you, Clarence.

Eventually, I made it home safely. I determined that I would go for a walk...and, perhaps, ponder the existence of guardian angels while wandering through the dark.

I stepped out on our porch...and heard a rustling sound in the leaves just off to my left. I figured one of our friendly neighborhood raccoons, or maybe a possum, might be paying a visit on a Monday evening.

I was carrying a flashlight to illuminate the dark of a January night. I turned on the light and shined the beams in the direction of the noise.

The sound in the leaves was indeed being created by a furry visitor...a critter dressed in formal black, with matching white stripes... Yup. A skunk. Right there. I moved quickly away from our visitor...and really, really hoped that it would not notice my presence...and do what skunks do. It didn’t.

Thank you, Clarence.

The rest of my walk...and the rest of the evening...turned out to be pretty much uneventful. I guess a guardian angel was enjoying the walk, too.

Thank you, Clarence. I’m sure glad that bell rang and you got those wings... Life really is wonderful.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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