Last week, when I was looking for the flag that I knew was down in the basement, I found a toad in the basement (or a frog--I don't know the difference...they are little four-legged reptile guys with doleful eyes and kind of a passive demeanor). I gently scooped it up in a dish towel* and released it over the fence, wishing it well. Then, over the past few days, Lily has caught two toadfrogs--or the same dang toadfrog, I can't tell. Each time, the toadfrog has survived intact, I have snatched it up with the aid of my dish towel of wildlife rescue, and I have released it outside the fence and advised it to seek its fortune elsewhere (I don't think they're listening).
Here's what happens: I notice that Lily is being quiet--too quiet, much like on MASH (when everything is still and then the casualties flood the joint or the helicopter bombardment begins). This means that she's either sleeping, eating rocks, digging holes, or up to some diabolical sort of mischief I have yet to imagine. Twice recently, her silence has signaled her capture of the toadfrogs. She does not try to eat them. Oh, no. I have found Lily licking the toadfrogs. Immediately, I try to check her for hallucinations. I have no idea how to check a dog for hallucinations, but as I bend over her to feel her nose and prod her tummy and stuff, I kind of imagine her seeing me looking like a lady with a long beak and antlers--like a drawing in a Hunter S. Thompson book. She seems to be okay, 'though, and the toadfrogs are okay. So, to sum up: I got me a toadfrogworshipping dog. She can listen to her "Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass" albums as much as she likes, but if she starts listening to the Grateful Dead, she's gonna have to use headphones (not that I hate the Grateful Dead...it's just my limited toleration for space jams).
So today, as I was coming back up from the basement with a stepladder, I saw a teenage daughter right on the threshhold of the bulkhead. This is the noise I made "AI-yI-gar-yah!" Because I don't have a teenage daughter. As the wind ruffled my hair in a delightful fashion, I took a closer look and I realized that it was a snake and not a teenage girl. It looked at me kinda superciliously, and then it slithered onto the wall right inside the bulkhead. Here it is (sorry, tilt your head for the first one):
It's kind of cool that it tried to blend in with the yellow and black stuff, but I really didn't want it to slither into the basement permanent-like, and I didn't want Lily to find it and start licking it, so I figured I'd reroute it into the woods--however unlikely it seemed that I'd be able to accomplish that goal. Then, I remembered that a kid I'm seeing tomorrow likes snakes and I thought, "Huh, maybe I should try to bring the snake to the kid." So, I got a pink storage tub and armed with my trusty dish towel, I managed to grab the snake and get it into the tub (with some leaves). It is an Eastern ribbon snake and it eats frogtoads, although I do not know how it manages to keep its streamlined, girlish figure doing so--snakes are all weird like that. They eat bulgie things and then whoop--they're all sleek again. (It is time to note that I am not a huge snake fan--I have a "you slither your way, I'll run my way" relationship with them--but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.) Here's the flag that I was bringing up from the basement, along with the stepladder, when I saw the snake that probably ate one of those poor toadfrogs that Lily likes to use to hallucinate (how's that for a sentence to tie it all together):
The thing about this flag is that it has 49 stars--meaning it must have been made in the little window of time between when Alaska became a state (January 1959) and Hawaii became a state (August 1959). It came with the place I'm renting, and it's the only flag I have, so it's going up. But, I feel a little bad about Hawaii being missing. So: HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY TO HAWAII!!! I love pineapple, I ate some this morning, and I hope to see your fine state some day.
And: Happy Fourth of July To You! Don't lick too many toadfrogs.**
*This is now my official wildlife rescue dish towel and no longer my every day dish towel.
**Somebody's going to tell me what the difference is, right? I might still call them all toadfrogs, 'though, 'cause I'm liking that word.