It’s Thanksgiving Eve, and I’m a little weary, to be honest. The house is nowhere near as clean and pretty as it should be by this time; the teenagers want more taxi rides, more cookery classes, more soda (nothing new). I’m anxious about our new pet – why weren’t three cats, a bird and a fish enough, anyway?
The new pet is a hedgehog. Those of you who grew up where I did might be raising an eyebrow. For those of you who didn’t: it’s a little bit like saying we got a pet squirrel. They aren’t pets – they’re just there. They snuffle around the back steps after dark, looking for food. People used to put out bread and milk, until the official advice went out that they prefer cat food – and it’s better for them. They are ubiquitous.
Except when they aren’t. Here, they’re an “exotic animal,” not native to this continent let alone this country. Here, one drives nearly 300 miles round trip to get one, with the contents of a teenager’s shoebox of savings six months deep. The breeder that we got this one from said today,
“I’ve always wanted to see one in the wild.”
It made me realise how lucky I am to have lived with hedgehogs and with raccoons; with skunks, squirrels and snakes; with coyotes and cats and monkeys.
(When my youngest daughter – the hedgehog fancier – was little, she used to spot monkeys from her buggy when we went out walking. She called them “naunies, ” which was a contraction of “naughty monkeys,” because they stole a chocolate bar from her brother once!).
It’s been a long day – so far – and I’ve spent most of it on the road, because I can, with a daughter that I love, to pick up an animal she will love, which is as familiar as my childhood home. I returned to pumpkin pie made by her sister and the insistence of her brother that he gets to bake the pecan pie next!
I’m so lucky.