The Dr. Dolittle Day

He was weasel-cute and wore summer on top with winter on bottom, in seasonal transition just like April weather. The snow white dot on his nose might as well have been a light bulb for all the camouflage it provided. He was exploring our woodpile, much to the consternation of a squirrel who has been stashing stolen sunflower seeds there. This particular weasel is not the weasel of today’s story, but he might be a grandchild or great-grandchild of the one I encountered one fall day shortly after we moved into this house...

I had school work to do that day and the sun was shining, and nobody in their right mind studies indoors when the sun is shining. So I arranged myself and my books in a spot of sunshine along the south wall of the house, facing the trees in the park next door. It was not a focused study session. There were birds to watch and a weasel…a weasel? Yes, it was definitely a weasel (in full summer attire) that trotted past me on its way to the park. He slipped under the fence and disappeared into the tall grass on the other side. I saw the grass moving to and fro as he rustled around for a few minutes, then suddenly he was sliding back under the fence, somewhat awkwardly this time. His mouth — his whole face — was full of a rather large, hapless mouse. Well, well, look at you, Mr. Speedy Mouser-Weasel…

He bounded up the low rise from the fence, heading straight towards me. I sat still, wondering what he would do, wondering if he could even see me over the bulk of his mouse. On he came, the mouse’s tail a dangling pendulum. And on he came, stretching his neck high to keep from tripping over his meal. And on he came… okay, little guy, can you see big ole me…just sitting here…in plain sight? I was beginning to wonder what I would do if he ran right over my legs with his big, rather dead mouse.

We both reacted at about the same time. I opened my mouth to express my concerns about his travel trajectory, and he opened his mouth to drop his mouse. Right by my feet. He looked at me briefly, then scurried around the corner of the house. I looked at the dead mouse briefly, leaned around the corner and yelled, “Hey, you! Come back here and get your mouse!”

He kept going. Of course. I’m not Dr. Dolittle after all.

So there I was, just trying to study in the sunshine and now I had a dead mouse at my feet. Dead mice are rather distracting, and I was debating about whether to move the mouse or move myself back inside the house, when the weasel suddenly appeared from around the corner. He calmly walked to the mouse, looked at it, looked at me, picked up the mouse and trotted off once again.

I leaned around the corner and called after him, “Thank you!”

I sat back against the house and chuckled to myself. That weasel just obeyed me. Unbelievable.

☕️ Adventures in Learning

A Saturday Caesura

Cold settled to the bottom of the sky this week, left glitter hanging in trees, spread a generous helping of white over autumn’s abandoned and decaying glory. The night the cold arrived, a stray kitten found a warm hideaway shelter, curled its baby tail around its pink baby nose and settled into that deep, world-abandoning sleep recognizable in babies of all shapes and sizes. In the early(ish) morning, the little kitten, a soft-grey tabby, went on an unplanned, very un-kitten-like adventure — to school.

The stowaway was not discovered until the student pulled into the school parking lot and heard something other than the usual purr of his truck engine. And so it was that kitty, smelling slightly of engine oil and still oblivious of the dangers of fan belts, found himself tucked into a flannel-lined jean jacket and smuggled into Room 210. Not that the secrecy part of the smuggling operation was particularly successful. The teacher, somewhat experienced with reading student body language and quite knowledgeable in techniques of interrogation, was quick to spy the bulging jacket, ferreted out an equally quick confession, and further declared that if kittens were going to attend English class, then she, as the teacher, would exercise her authority by being the first to cuddle it. Which she did. Of course.

And so it was that kitty found new warm shelters in various laps, explored an intriguing maze of legs (human and non-human), left tiny paw-prints on papers and desk tops, tapped a few Chromebook keys for good measure, and purred and purred and purred (and meowed), and then, oh glory of all glories, lapped up a dish of goodness made from three creamers smuggled (successfully) from the staff-room fridge, the contents mixed with a bit of water, and, once that was gone, munched on a generous scoop of tomato-basil flavoured tuna graciously donated from someone’s lunch. Oh, that all un-kitty-like adventures could result in such bounty, such an embarrassment of riches.

Any suspicions about how much school-work was actually done that class are probably warranted. Kittens are magnets and there is nothing in the high school English curriculum about magnets. Or kittens for that matter. Nothing. Nada. However, there is an entire general outcome related to collaboration and group work, and if one were to assess the class ability to collaborate based on their collective responsiveness to kitty’s frequent meowing and their ability to offer lap-space in an equitable manner without any squabbling, then it could be argued that, even in Grade 12, having a kitten in class is conducive to learning. And if the quality of learning was gauged by the full, round kitty-belly and the steady, rumbling purr, then the class certainly achieved a standard of excellence that day.