I wish I could write about my next mystery because today I went hiking in the snowy north Cascades where I’m setting the story. But I’m tied up with a ghostwriting project about cyberbullies and internet trolls that is keeping my imagination all too imprisoned in the ugly present. And I’m struggling with the plot in my novel, because I want to set it in post-pandemic times, but the plague didn’t conveniently end in the spring season that I needed it to for my plot to work out. I may have to resort to true fiction to resolve that successfully. But I have to get internet trolls out of my head first. Reality can be such a pain to deal with sometimes.
So, this post is about something totally different: the happy surprises in my life that have involved animals. I have often said that I don’t expect life to always be kind, or easy, or fair, but I darn well expect it to be interesting. And so, I’m thrilled every time I get a surprise that makes my day more intriguing.
Most of my surprises involve animals, especially wildlife, so it should be no mystery why I include so much of the natural world in my writing. My cats are sometimes responsible for my surprises, like the baby opossum I discovered under the couch. Although neither of them ever admitted it, I’m pretty sure one of them kidnapped that poor baby. Of course I rescued it, using a beach towel and a cat carrier. Did you know that a baby opossum is a pretty fierce opponent? They growl and are more than ready to use those sharp teeth.
And then there was the mole that climbed into bed with my visiting sister. That was a surprise to her as well as me. Cats again, no doubt. Mine like to kidnap all sorts of interesting creatures. They rarely injure them. It took me days to find the poor little beastie crawling along my floorboards and take it back outside. It gratefully dug itself back into the earth in seconds. I discovered that moles have beautiful soft silky fur. And giant feet, or course, all the better to dig with.
The tree frog in a sandwich bag by the kitchen sink was probably one of the biggest shocks. Scared me to death. Had an intruder been in my house? Was this a warning of some kind? After I got over my hysteria, I remembered that I’d washed out a sandwich bag the night before and hung it over the faucet to dry. And I had found tree frogs in my house before. I’m not sure I can always blame the cats, because I’ve found frogs sneaking around window screens from time to time. So, tree frog + window over the sink + sandwich bag drying by the sink = tree frog squirming in sandwich bag.
These surprises don’t always happen in my home, though. One time, on a sailing trip through stormy seas, when I was thoroughly seasick and out on the bow tying down something or other in pouring rain, a dolphin emerged beside the boat, rolled over on its side, and we both stared at each other for a long moment, gifting me one magical experience in a truly miserable day.
As a kid, I was awed by a giant luna moth, praying mantises and walking sticks, horned toads, tortoises, bright green garden snakes. (I wasn’t so fond of the patterned brown serpents.)
I will get back to my creative writing soon. For now, after I hammer away at the keyboard for a few hours on my contract job, I keep venturing out into the natural world, trying to banish internet trolls from my brain to allow more space for happy surprises.