Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A twist of fate, a rabbit and a fox, and a story is ...

Our wildlife neighbors are varied personalities. They're also varied species.

This afternoon, I spied a cave cricket (a creature whose appearance only a mother cave cricket could love) hitching across the floor.
As soon as it got close enough to the door, I used a fly swat to boost it gently outside. Even an ugly cricket has a place in the world.  Fortunately, it was a small one, tip of pinky finger sized. Right after we moved into this house, I sat up on bed one morning, only to have a large one, the body of it being larger than my thumb, land square in the middle of my chest. From there, I don't know where it went; I flipped it off into oblivion one-handed, out of pure reaction. I think the cats finished it off... a big cave cricket is a nice interactive toy for lively felines, after all.

I don't much like cave crickets for company. I prefer to wake up slowly, over a cup of monstrous-strength coffee.  Without jumpy, ugly critters in the house.

Speaking of jumpy critters! A cottontail rabbit has, after five years, taken up residence near the house. It has become so used to us that it will sit in the middle of the road and scratch behind its ears with a hind foot, the Jeep Cherokee idling within a mere ten feet of it. I think the occasional apple peeling dropped casually in the area has something to do with it. Maybe.

To walk outside is very similar to walking into a sauna from an air conditioned room today. Only we don't have air conditioning in this house; it's built partly underground and it stays warmer in winter, cooler in summer. It easily maintains a difference of some 20 degrees compared to the great outdoors in summer. Right now, it's 73 F. in here, and around 95 outside.  Which is what brought to mind the cave cricket and the rabbit: they too like cool places underground.

I wonder what the Fourth of July will be like. Or maybe I don't. I suspect a lot of folks are going to wish we still had some of that fine ice and snow that was just lying around all winter. Then again, folks in hell, I hear, dream of ice water.

For myself, I dream of finding some good books to read while the heat of summer has me pinned down in the cool of the house for long hours of the day. The more I write, the less I can enjoy reading, though. Worse, the less I can write. There are days when I think I'm moving backwards in time, unlearning reading and writing. It could be only that I'm getting pickier, I suppose.

Meanwhile, back on the 'farm', I saw where a 'coon dabbled in a fading mud puddle, leaving linear scrape marks ending in neat little hand-like paw prints in one place. There, a 'possum crossed the mud-path the raccoon laid out, its naked tail dragging swaying across between comic footprints with deep pad imprints in the  'palm' area. Nearby that, a place where wild turkeys scratched in the leave mast, digging after bugs, mostly, around acorns that failed to sprout in the spring rains and ended up rotting. Along the edge of the road, like lace trim, whitetail deer tracks (one older, heavy buck ... and later a doe with a fawn ... passed by). Bird nests tucked into sheltered areas among the new thatch of forest leaves.

Stories are told with or without a written language. Regardless of the language, format, or teller, the stories fall along the same lines. Romance, tragedy, comedy, feel-good, horror, and so on.

It was the fox and coyote tracks circling around that told the rest of these woodland stories. Tragedy, you say? Maybe not. For the fox, if it goes away full of fat rabbit, not at all. For the rabbit, certainly it could be a tragedy... or a comedy if through a clever fluke of bunny-circling the rabbit lives another day. It all depends on how you look at it, from which side of the fence the story gets told.

That's where I'm sitting right now. In the middle of tragedies, comedies, some horror and some feel-good contrast, and even, yes, a little romance. Mostly alone, but with friends who would love to help if it were possible.

It's a case of hurry up and wait. Straddle the fence? Try not to make it worse. Be neither fox nor rabbit, but a little of both and yet neither. 

That's right. I'm lost in my own footprints, looking for a way out.