Tomorrow’s St. Anthony of Padua’s feast day – check out the entry I wrote on St. Anthony in The Loyola Kids’ Book of Saints here at the Loyola website. It’s like a free trial!
St. Anthony’s Basilica in Padua. Fall 2012.
Today, youngest son and I took a brief afternoon journey to a small town about 20 miles south of here. There was an easy walking trail I’d heard about, and we had business on the south end of Birmingham, so we’d do a loop of sorts.
The trail was short and flat and developed, but it ran next to and around a creek, so that was nice. What was even better was that we saw:
- a beaver working on his dam. From a distance, but no doubt that’s who it was and what he was doing.
- a rabbit swimming across the creek.
Wait, what? That’s what we said. But it was unmistakably, a rabbit, who hopped out of the woods on one side, dove in and swam steadily across to the other. Who knew?
Well, lots of people probably, since it was, I’d assume, a swamp rabbit – the largest rabbit species in the Southeast and, as I remembered later, responsible for dragging Jimmy Carter down even further back in 1979.
So there was that, and various small fish and a very large beetle, mimosas, reminders of the grist mill that once stood in the area, and very many bugs. It was a good walk, giving us a chance to see and learn of a few new things.
Before heading back north, we stopped at a new (to us) gourmet popsicle shop called Frios (similar to Birmingham’s own Steel City Pops) – my son had a salted caramel and I had a fantastic spicy pineapple. The fellow in the shop said, after hearing where we were from, “That’s a long way to come to take a walk.” I said, not really. It’s a new place, and we like to go new places and see new things.
Like swamp rabbits.
What we would have missed by just sitting around the house….
We watched Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman last night. The ten-year old enjoyed it – especially the scenes with the monkey, not surprisingly. There’s also a lengthy scene in the “Municipal Plunge” – an indoor swimming pool – which was interesting to me partly because I’m always studying this kind of stuff in movies from an historical perspective – to see how men and women dressed and interacted in such venues almost ninety years ago. Anyway, in that scene, Keaton must cope with the awkwardness of losing his swimming trunks, and my son remarked, “You know, when they have a swimming pool scene in a movie, that always happens. Always.”
(Pro-tip, if you have cable. About once a month, if I think about it, I go through a couple of weeks’ worth of the Turner Classic Movies schedule, and DVR the heck out of it. At any given time, we have about twenty good movies on tap. I do the same with nature shows.)
I don’t believe related the chipmunk story.
About three days before we left for the Wild West Trip, I awoke one morning to the sounds of scratching on a screen. I am functionally blind without my contacts, so I couldn’t see across the room to the source of the sound, which kept on coming from the direction of an almost wall-length set of transom windows (50’s house) about over five feet from the floor. The scratches kept coming. I thought perhaps a bird was outside, or had started to nest out there..or something. I put in my contacts.
There was a chipmunk sitting on the ledge of the window.
When my mother was a little younger than I am now, she was bitten by a chipmunk. We were looking at what would become our family’s own 50’s era home in Knoxville at the time. She peered into a trash can outside, and saw a chipmunk stranded at the bottom. Why she didn’t just tip the can over and let it out, I’ll never know. But instead, she reached down to rescue it by hand, and of course the terrified thing bit her.
And didn’t let go.
They had to put a lighted match to its nose to make it release her finger, but done in a way that it could immediately be trapped in some sort of container and taken to the hospital and tested for rabies.
(Which it didn’t have.)
And here I was, forty years later, confronting yet another chipmunk in another mid-century home. At eye level this time, though.
What to do?
First I tried to shoo it into a trash can (wait…..), but it just leapt off the ledge, used my desk chair as a spring board, and then took off out of my room.
I’m almost certain I saw it race into the first open door available, which would have been the hall closet – the boys’ bedroom doors were already closed, so no worries there.
When the boys woke up, I told them about it, and they immediately exchanged meaningful glances, the younger triumphant, the older one huffily abashed.
“I TOLD YOU I SAW A CHIPMUNK!”
It seems the day before, the younger son had sworn that a chipmunk had jumped out from among a jumble of books on his bedroom floor. He told his brother, but his brother scoffed and said it must have been a bug or he was seeing things.
So the next thing was to try to get it out. Since I was sure it was in the closet, we set up an elaborate walled pathway that would lead from the closet to the back patio door.
(We discussed just putting the snake in there for a day, but ultimately decided against it.)
The moment came. I pushed the door open, we braced ourselves…..
I poked around the closet with a broom handle, pushed blankets aside…nothing. I removed everything from the closet…nothing.
As I said, this was a couple of days before our trip, so since I wasn’t going to spend any more time searching, we just had to trust that it had escaped some other way, and that we wouldn’t return to the stench of death upon our return.
As I wrote earlier, my younger son and I went to Atlanta this past week. I forgot to post this photo, which is of an art installation on the first floor of the museum, viewed from the winding stairwell. It’s called “Utah Sky,” after the name of the paint color of the sky, and it’s Asian-inspired, but it reminds me of my beloved Mexican oilcloth more than anything.
For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!