We were apartment dwellers…not unlike the the cliff dwellers from earlier times. Except that instead of ladders to scale the heights to get ‘home’, we had elevators and stairs. It was this extra distance from our front door to the outside that appeared to be the reason why dogs were never part of the family. Cats terrified our grandmother. So what was left?
Mom and Dad proclaimed — with confidence — that I could have ‘any pet so long as it was not a dog or cat.’ To them, that meant low-maintenance. They did not have to walk, feed or otherwise get engaged in the management of a pet. It did not take long for them to realize they’d made a mistake. And that they had created part of the mistake.
The back-story began when I was very young. Our apartment had a bright sun room (apartment lingo for an indoor porch). It was just before Easter when Dad came home with a cardboard box. Mom and I could hear scratching, so we suspected something live was inside. And there was! Three (that’s right) three adorable chicks! I was excited. Dad was elated. Mom was skeptical. She was right. Neither had any idea how quickly these cute yellow fur balls would grow. Nor did they realize what that size increase meant. Or that the chicks would LOVE the jute rug on the sun room floor, peck the rattan chairs and in general reduce the sun room to a chicken coop. The chicks did not end up on our dinner table, but they disappeared, presumably to somewhere better-suited for poultry.
Wild animals I have known, respectfully borrowed from a book of the same name by Ernest Thompson Seton, suggests that wildlife was an integral part of my childhood. Small animals – furry, winged, finned or slithery – were all part of our household at one time or another. The list was long. It ranged from easy-to-find local bugs, to frogs, turtles, horned toads, mice, birds, fish, gerbils, ant farms, caymans (a member of the alligator family), chameleons and snakes. Most of which were not part of most households. All of which raised the potential for unexpected human-animal encounters. And there were many – to the hilarity and chagrin of all who lived and visited with us.
But let me keep you in suspense…watch for these in another post.