A quiet New Year’s with UFOs and a headless deer | AspenTimes.com

A quiet New Year’s with UFOs and a headless deer

Gaylord Guenin

New Year’s Eve came and went quietly in Lenado, which was just fine with me. Buckwheat, my dog, also enjoyed the evening because there were no fireworks to deal with. He dislikes loud noises, rushes into the house during thunderstorms, and will even dash for the couch when the ski patrol blasts avalanches at the ski areas over the hill. At least I believe that is what is going on, although one can never be certain with loud sounds coming out of Aspen.Another traditional New Year’s element missing in Lenado was the hordes of obnoxious drunks careening up and down local roads, looking for a sidewalk or a front lawn to throw up on. It is always a bit puzzling to understand where “festive” ends and “disgusting” begins.But I must confess that it was so mellow in our little hamlet that I went through the entire evening without once having any evil thoughts about George W., our compassionate-warrior president. That was something of an historic moment for me, although I’m not certain it was a good way to begin the new year. I certainly don’t want it to become a trend.I did watch some of the fireworks around the world on the tube and would consider the display (if that were what it should be called) in Moscow’s Red Square to have been my favorite. It appeared the entire show consisted of a single guy with a giant sparkler dancing around the square. It certainly deserved an award for minimalism, if nothing else. I didn’t bother to tune in the dropping of the ball in Times Square. I just couldn’t get worked up about a bunch of “famous” people stroking one another for an hour or more, so I went to the Cooking Channel where at least the possibility existed to gain some useful knowledge.While New Year’s Eve was relatively mellow in Woody Creek, we did experience a moment of mystery just before Christmas. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see a dead deer or elk, among other wild critters, alongside our roads. Such was the case for me while driving to the post office (which is a euphemistic way of saying I am driving to the Tavern) a week or so before Christmas. A deer was lying dead at the side of Woody Creek Road just before the turn to Little Woody Creek.No big deal, right? Wrong!Within a day, Ann Owsley, one of the owners of the Woody Creek Store, was getting all sorts of inquiries regarding this animal. She received calls from people reporting a dead horse, a dead mule, a dead deer and a dead elk alongside the road. You could understand people having difficulty identifying the animal, but then the stories began to take a science-fiction bent.Stories began to circulate that the animal’s head had been removed. There even was a report that its eyes had been gouged out, which more or less contradicts the beheading scenario. It was said that it had been skinned and disemboweled and that its guts were strewn around the body. Of course all of this juicy rumor-mongering immediately gave rise to speculation about UFOs and aliens invading Woody Creek. What great fun! We finally had something to talk about other than the current administration in Washington, D.C., and just about everyone had a theory. When it comes to UFOs and aliens, most of us can offer up completely unsubstantiated theses and be comfortable in the knowledge that they can’t be refuted because, when it comes to flying saucers and little green men, real facts simply do not exist.One rumor that wasn’t kicked around (but should have been) concerned a report that the animal was a cloven-hoofed beast with a forked tail. Now that would have given members of the Woody Creek Tavern’s Pissing and Moaning Society (PMS) something to sink their teeth into. I am not certain anyone in Woody Creek actually stopped and inspected the animal, which might have helped to quell some of the weird stories kicking around. Woody Creek does have a fair number of hunters in residence, so it is possible one of them skinned the animal and took the head, particularly if this were a male with a rack of antlers. Antlers and horns are very valuable as medicinal items in many cultures, and there have been recent reports of deer and elk being killed by poachers just for their racks. I would doubt that this was the work of a poacher, but someone with some hunting and butchering skills might have simply taken advantage of this situation.I can say that the morning I drove by the animal it looked for all the world to be a deer, and it still had its coat. I didn’t notice if its head was attached or not. A couple of days later, however, it did appear to have been skinned. It is unlikely that magpies or any other wild critters could have done such a clean job in such a short time.The rumors, unfortunately, persisted for a few days before everyone’s attention was focused back to Christmas, shopping and families and friends. I miss the rumors, stories of cloven-hoofed beasts and the thought of little green men stalking our neighborhood. All of that beats 90 percent of what you can find on the tube. This is the 324th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where a dead animal along the road easily becomes part of the local mythology.

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