Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tempest in a Teapot

I finally found spring. No matter that I woke up to a couple new inches of snow the texture of Elmer's glue. The wind is still cold but the air is lighter, the sunlight we do see is less watery, and the snow is disappearing, compacting even when it's not melting, shriveling away like the wicked witch, Elphaba, when Dorothy threw water in her face.

Is it the generation gap or just the difference in their personalities? Present Jeff and Travis with a problem, and Travis will come up with a solution that involves a minimum of four power tools, two phone calls, several pieces of raw lumber, a flammable liquid, three trips to the hardware store, and someone to stand there and watch (me). Jeff will solve the same problem while you think he's in the bathroom, using only a piece of baling wire, a sandbag, and maybe a bucket or an empty coffee can. He's also a big fan of zip ties.

The day Kitty arrived (nine years ago!) one of my friends brought her a rope made of orange and purple shoelaces braided together that has been her undisputed favorite toy. I've bought her furry toys and squeaky toys, scrunchy, catnip-laced, jointed feathery flashing wind-up toys and one of those round plastic tubes with a ball trapped inside that she liked for a while, but for the most part everything stays in a basket in a corner, and when she wants to play I'll find her dragging her rope around or crouching possessively on it in the hall, trying to get my attention. Throw the rope. Please throw the rope.

B.C. will occasionally attack the rope, but he'd rather chase the beam from a laser pointer or attack the cursor on this screen or make Kitty mad by licking her face. Mostly he just lays there and wants his belly rubbed. He's all guy. And possibly part dog.

I had this twelve-inch length of red round elastic cord that was tied in a bow around the tulips M gave me for Valentine's Day. (I can't throw this away. I might be able to use it. You'd think I grew up in the Depression.) It fell off the table one day and Kitty went berserk, pouncing on it and dragging it around, so I started tossing it for her. Anyone who has cats knows that twelve inches is not enough length to keep your hands safe from flailing, playing claws, so I tied it onto about four feet of pink thread (the color I use the least in my sewing kit). Both cats went nuts. It's too small to grip with paws and slides right between their teeth, and they have a hard time seeing it, whether because it's so small or because it's red, so it's all the more challenging. It's springy, so it moves faster than the rope, and their pupils get huge and their tails get puffy and they have head-on collisions and don't even notice. Hours of entertainment... for me.

I stood at the window of the old plant today and watched a fox in the sagebrush meadow below. I had been watching deer but when he started to make his agile way through the tufts of brush, he stood out so brightly against the white snow that I couldn't have missed him. He loped at a dog's silent, loose-footed pace on his black cat feet, red fur bouncing, listening, peering. He'd stop and crouch, bob twice, spring almost directly upwards, and plant himself face down in the snow, hind legs wheeling, tail spinning, and come back up with some morsel in his mouth, a vole or mouse. The pickings must have been good today, because he did this about every five feet and always seemed to come up with something. At one point he had two critters in his mouth and set them down to get a third, which he ate whole before picking the other two up again and trotting off.

Three of our interviewees toured the plant today, including the strong favorite, who commented on the wildlife and admired the ragged red tailed hawk whose office is the lone aspen in the meadow. Jeff liked that he seems to consider everything very carefully, but he's not slow. I found him very quick and engaged on the tour, observant and enthusiastic, if a bit overwhelmed. I was telling the great, slightly off color Elizabeth Taylor joke (how can I have been at the plant for three years and never told them that one?) later in the afternoon, after the tours were done, thinking that whoever they choose, it's going to be a while before we'll have this ease again, if we ever do.

I wish I could make of this season what I did when I was little. We lived on the side of a hill across from a sprawling, sloped park not fifty miles from here, and the melting snow meant a constant stream in the gutter in front of the house. I heaped stone dams and made twig rafts to run the rapids around miniature glaciers. (I didn't have many friends until Bekah came along, my very first kindred spirit, because the rest of the kids in that small town were very short on imagination. And I guess there must have been times when Morgan had better things to do than play with me, although she was a good sport, even after she started driving.)

I often miss being ten years old in the spring, those soggy, windy afternoons in the fast-fading light when all I had to worry about was getting my homework done so I could go out and not tracking mud when I came back in. Now I have to worry about not tracking mud into the new car I have to work to make payments on at a job that sometimes makes me want to scream. But it's a great car. And spring means I get to drive it. Fast. A long, long way. A thousand miles in a weekend. Again.


Blogger Doolin said...

I can't believe you still have that rope from my old shoe laces!!! i would've thought she ripped it to shreds by funny!!!!

April 10, 2008 at 12:40 AM  
Blogger mister anchovy said...

I once watched a fox in a campground in the Crows Nest Pass in Alberta. It was very early morning, and we were waiting for our buddy to emerge from his tent so we could go chase trout. The sky was just starting to lighten up. The fox was shopping for snacks from campsite to campsite, and he was doing very very well. I guess a lot of partying campers aren't so very careful about their food (which they should be - it IS bear country). The fox would emerge from a campsite with a find, and disappear over the ridge for a few minutes, then come back and continue to shop, campsite after campsite until all that could be stolen from sleeping campers, was stolen.

April 11, 2008 at 7:50 AM  

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