Moments come like snowflakes falling in a vast, dark forest. A few of these flakes freeze and hang suspended on limbs and shrubs, frozen as memories that linger long after the deed that created them has passed.
We all have clusters of such moments lodged in our memory circuitry like the lights of a great city seen at a distance. Most of these are of a predictable nature … first loves, athletic triumphs, family tragedies, existential frights, honeymoon nights or the inexpressible wonderment that comes with the birth of a child.
Now that’s not to say there isn’t a wide variety of memory-moments within each type. Not by a long shot. Take, for example, the day my firstborn, Joey, came into this world.
At the time I lived in North Vancouver, British Columbia, in my first house. It had been built as a farmhouse, but that was long ago. I loved it! It still had full story, above-ground basement with driveway access, tall comfortable rooms with tall windows to match, and best of all, a huge country kitchen.
In anticipation of Joey’s arrival my wife and I had scrubbed the place from top to bottom twice. Everything was ordered and spic ‘n span, includingour cat and our Australian Shepherd.
When the big day of “Joey” dawned, the thick dark red linoleum kitchen floor shone like a ruby and looked like a deep pond you could wade in. The tall casement windows sparkled like crystals. All the rooms passed inspection … picked-up, cleaned-up and readied-up.
After an over-long day of birthing difficulties, Joey finally arrived. It was a singular moment when all of the unanswerable mysteries of life stood naked, exposed before me as the miracles they truly are.
When I left Lion’s Gate Hospital, I walked from a scene withnursing that had a biblical quality about it … angelic, blissful and tranquil. The scene back home could have been equally serene had it not been for the rat.
My beloved ancient farmhouse was as impenetrable to rodents as a sieve is to water. And with winter coming, they sensibly figured life inside my house beat living outside, or under old Miss Rosie’s rickety chicken coop.
I’d learned there was only one foolproof way to thwart them. Catch one and throw its carcass between the house its community. They’d get the picture pretty quick and stay away until a new generation came along in need of an update.
Being it was November, I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked or so surprised when, while opening the front door, Caliope shot like a bullet between my legs headed straight to kitchen.
By the time I reached her, she’d struck a ready-to-pounce pose right in front of the cabinet under the sink.
“Aha!” I thought, “Rat!” With that I immediately exiled Sundance to the cellar. “No sense having too much excitement here,” I figured, and turned my attention back to Caliope and the battle at hand.
I slowly opened the door to the cabinet. Caliope darted in! Nothing! I slowly slide the utensil drawer open. Caliope jumped up behind it in a flash! Nothing! I worked my way down the stack of drawers, deliberately drawing each open with Caliope instantly inspecting them, and finding nothing.
I drew open the final drawer with a false sense of security that was abruptly interrupted by a hideously large rat bolting out over my outstretched arm like Kentucky Derby champion running for the finish line … with Caliope in hot pursuit.
I stood there traumatized and transfixed on the life and death struggle unfolding before my hyper-extended eyes. The rat made it to the maze of tall shelves that rose from the floor loaded with cups, saucers and small wares that had been so lovingly, spotlessly cleaned only a few days earlier. It ran through them all with blinding speed … as did Caliope!
It was a race like none I’d ever seen. It was also a mess like none that I’d ever dreamed of. A catastrophe! But that could wait. All the action was now under the sink and Caliope was moving in for the kill!
But wait! Killing wasn’t happening, at least not yet. That rat was too big, burly, agile and fast. But Caliope was faster, and had a longer reach … with paws tipped like claws of a lion!
I stood immobile, mesmerized, watching a stand-off develop. The rat squatted on its hind legs with its back to the wall. It bared long teeth and hissed. Hairless and albino, it was a ghastly, hideous sight like something from the depths of hell.
Caliope crouched an arm’s length away. She had the varmint cornered and wasn’t about to let it escape. But what about the meantime? She wasn’t big enough to jump the thing and finish it!
“This could go on for some time,” I thought … little did I know.
TO BE CONTINUED
THIS BEGINS THE SECOND PART OF “A NEW LIFE IN A NEW LAND” … IF YOU’D LIKE TO FOLLOW MY BLOG SIMPLY CLICK ON “FOLLOW” BUTTON AT THE UPPER RIGHT OF THIS PAGE. I HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT!