<DIV><DIV>1 <BR>IF I WERE AN ANIMAL, WHAT KIND WOULD I BE? <BR>Well, that’s a really interesting question, Josie. I have a lot of favorites. Obviously, no animal is nobler than the dog.” <BR>Josie, who is running ahead of me, glances back and gives me a knowing look. <BR>“But I think I’d be a falcon. They can dive at speeds up to two hundred miles an hour. How cool would that be? Falcons .y and hunt wherever they please. They rule the sky.” <BR>Josie gives a yip and takes off after a squirrel. Okay, I admit it, Josie’s my dog. I’m talking to my dog. Maybe it’s pathetic, but I don’t have anyone else to talk to. <BR>And Josie’s terri.c company, let me make that clear. I have great respect for dogs in general and Josie in particular. We got her when I was .ve, and she’s always been my best friend. Since we moved here when school ended in June, she’s my only friend. <BR>Here is upstate New York, in what everybody calls the Finger Lakes region. That’s because there are eleven long, narrow lakes that look like skinny .ngers. Most of them have Iroquois Indian names, like Seneca, Canandaigua, Keuka, and Cayuga. I can’t remember them all. <BR>The lakes were made by glaciers during the Ice Age, but there’s an Iroquois legend that says they were formed when the Great Spirit reached down and pressed his hands into the earth. Which is kind of cool to think about, except I can’t help wondering if there’s another legend that explains why the Great Spirit had eleven .ngers. <BR>I like to picture those giant hands reaching down from the sky. In my mind, they’re always hairy, with .ve .ngers on one hand and six on the other. <BR>Anyway, I’m not saying I was Mr. Popularity at my old school, but I had buddies. I miss Kevin Bowen the most. He and I did practically everything together. We were known as “Owen and Bowen.” I’m Owen, obviously. Owen McGuire. <BR>Take it from me, you don’t want to move at the end of the school year. Because then there you are in a new place where you don’t know anybody, and you’ve got the whole summer ahead of you. <BR>We only moved a few hours away, but it feels really different here. In Buffalo, our house was in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. But now we live in what you’d have to call the boonies. There’s Seneca Lake to the east, the highway to the west, and everywhere else, nothing but woods and farm .elds. I like living in the country and seeing all the deer and turkeys and woodchucks, but it would be nice to see some people, too. Especially another twelve-year-old kid. <BR>When we .rst got here at the end of June, I rode around on my bike to check things out. That’s when I discovered the trail I’m running on now. It’s seven miles long, and follows the path of a stream that runs between our lake, Seneca, and Keuka Lake. The stream has cut steep cliffs through the woods, and it’s cool and shady down there. That makes it a perfect place for running, which I’m doing every day. The school I’ll be going to in the fall has a soccer team for grades seven and eight, and I plan to be on it. I decided I might as well use this long summer on my own to get in shape and practice my footwork. <BR>So Josie and I have been running every day for three and a half weeks, going about three miles up the trail and three miles back, sometimes even more. We’ve seen a lot of amazing stuff. Like one day Josie came toward me howling like a crazy thing, chasing a wild turkey. It .ew down the trail right at me, madly .apping its wings, and just missed the top of my head. I could feel the rush of air from its wings in my hair. <BR>Another day a black bear was standing in the trail ahead of us. Josie and I both stopped dead in our tracks. <BR>We looked at the bear, and the bear looked at us. I glanced down at Josie, and every hair on her body was standing out so stif.y she looked a lot bigger than her normal size. <BR>“Easy, girl,” I murmured. She gave a funny little growl, and the bear ambled away. It didn’t seem to want anything to do with us, but we headed back the way we had come, just in case. <BR>Then, two days ago, Josie ran ahead and started barking at something on the path. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw it was a snapping turtle as big as home plate. Josie was dancing all around it, lunging in and out, yipping with excitement. <BR>“No, Josie!” I cried, but she didn’t stop. “Josie! If that thing clamps its jaws onto your nose, you are going to be very sorry!” I warned. <BR>Finally, I was able to grab her collar and drag her away, but I could tell she wanted to go back there in the worst way. There are some things she’s not real smart about. <BR>I don’t know the names of every single tree and plant and bird and animal we’ve been seeing on our runs, but I know a lot of them. When I was little, my mom gave me a set of .eld guides. She and Josie and I used to take long walks, and when we got home, we’d look up everything we’d seen in the books. I have guides on birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, wild.owers, rocks and fossils, insects, and stars. The one on stars and planets is my favorite. It was Mom’s, too. <BR>It was Mom who really taught me to notice things. So I keep my eyes open on my runs with Josie. I recognize the teeny heart-shaped tracks of fawns and the handlike prints of raccoons. By now I know the squawk of the great blue heron that we scare out of its favorite minnow-hunting spot, and the musky smell foxes leave behind. I like to look for trout and suckers in the pools of the stream, and Josie keys me in to every squirrel, rabbit, and woodchuck we pass by. <BR>When you’re running along through all that nature, it’s easy to see how everything belongs. Every animal and plant has its place in the big picture. So things that don’t belong really stand out, like a soda bottle, or candy bar wrapper, or a de.ated Mylar party balloon. It ticks me off that people throw stuff like that around, and I’ve made it my mission to pick up trash I see and carry it out if I can. <BR>Up ahead, I see something white lying off the path near a patch of raspberry bushes. Josie goes over to it, sniffs, then picks it up and runs along with it in her mouth. <BR>“Josie, come!” I shout. She’s always .nding stinky dead animals and scraps of food people have left behind, stuff she thinks is wonderful. This looks like a paper towel or a napkin, maybe. At least it doesn’t look like anything too disgusting, not that that would have stopped Josie. <BR>She comes and I say, “Sit, Josie. Drop it.” Josie is a German shorthaired pointer, a hunting dog, so she’s supposed to surrender whatever she retrieves to me, her owner, the mighty hunter. <BR>Amazingly, she sits at my .rst command and drops what I see now is a piece of white cloth. <BR>“Good dog!” <BR>There’s red stuff on it. I start to pick it up, wondering what the red is. Paint? <BR>Whoa. Gross. Quickly, I throw it back to the ground. The red stuff is, I’m pretty sure, blood. The cloth is soft and stretchy, and has a ragged edge. It looks like it was torn off the bottom of somebody’s T-shirt. <BR>Yuck. I’m not carrying that out, never mind my good intentions about trash removal. <BR>I start running again. Being on the trail makes me think of all the outdoor things Mom and I used to do together. I remember a clear winter night when I was eight years old. Dad was working late. Mom got me all bundled up in my snowsuit and hat and mittens and boots, and we went outside and lay down on our backs in the snow and stared up at the sky. I barely even felt the cold because I was really noticing for the .r <BR><BR><i>Continues...</i> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Signal</b> by <b>DeFelice, Cynthia</b> Copyright © 2009 by DeFelice, Cynthia. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.