Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Inscrutable Inner Lives of Animals

Last weekend I went out to the backyard and picked up all the things Theo has carried out there, which is to say, 4 stuffed animals, 2 socks, 1 slipper, 2 plastic water bottles out of the recycling bin, assorted paper towels, 1 heavy garden glove (provenance unknown,) 2 tennis balls and 3 actual dog toys, including the dog toy from outer space, which is the squeaking rubbery alien looking thing that about a year ago fell at my feet on the back steps - from space, a passing airplane piloted by dogs or possibly the roof; I've never known. I gathered these unlovely things up, and unlovely they certainly are, since not only have they been gnawed but they've also been lying in the yard for unspecified amounts of time. Then I didn't quite know what to do with them, since I was seized with a terrible reluctance to bring them inside, so I put them in a milk crate on the back porch. "Look." I told Theo. "You have a toy box." He wagged his tail. Dogs, I have noticed, are not big on logical thought. Theo carries his milk bones outside and then is sad when they are gone.

They're all back out in the yard now. This is the problem with collies; sure, they'll herd things, and your children and most particularly your guests, but they make up their own minds where things are to be herded to. Theo believes in free range toys, although guests belong in the living room or the kitchen, but definitely in small groups. Meanwhile, Orange Cat, the bane of the neighborhood, has been making forays into my Mr. Bill's backyard. Mr. Bill will not put up with such intrusions and so he has a bump on his nose. I have been oooking and aaahking over his nose like a complete idiot or a fairly repulsive and obsessive penguin parent: I think I have made more and stupider googly noises at that cat than I ever did at my own kids.

I stand out in the backyard and smoke and look at the ruins of the grape arbor and these small lives go on around me. The squirrels make daring forays past the fence, which gets Theo barking and then sets off every single neighborhood dog. Tortoiseshell Cat, who lives next door and is by way of being a pal to both my animals, comes by to say hello and have a roll in the dust. The red cardinals are vying madly with each other for the attention of the lady cardinals. Four crows - for a boy, I guess, and that would be a good thing - fly overhead. I like spring.

In other news, my older brother is back in town and he has bought a vintage 1973 BMW motorcycle. My son will be beyond thrilled; I am filled with trepidation. Also, fear.

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