Thursday, August 21, 2008

Doctor Dolittle Strikes Again

If you listen to my radio show, you know that my husband, Ken, talks to the animals.  You know that at home, the mallards who live in our creek follow him around making little quacky muttering noises (full disclosure: he gives them cracked corn to eat).  I once caught him on the other side of the creek, having a conversation with a deer, who was so transfixed by Ken's presence that you'd think I was  married to a headlight.  You know--deer?  Headlight?  Oh, never mind.

Ken has names for the groundhogs.  Ken tells the golden finches that they are beautiful.  They seem to listen.

So we're still on vacation, still on Prince Edward Island, and Ken has a whole raftload full of new animal pals.  Yesterday, we visited the Anne of Green Gables house.  Neither one of us had read the book before we came up here, me because I was a bitter and cynical youth & Anne was just too sweet for my tastes at the time.  And Ken probably didn't read it because he wasn't a girl.  

Ken's reading it.  He loves it.  He reads the purpler, more sentimental passages out loud to me. And he was the one who insisted upon the pilgrimage yesterday.  I'm here to tell you the place that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery is a lovely site, prettily restored in the appropriate late-Victorian fashion you'd expect, and surrounded by an exuberantly blooming English-style flower garden.  There are nature trails, too, marked by the charming names Montgomery gave them in her book and filled with little critters for Ken to talk to.  He made friends with a little brown squirrel yesterday in The Haunted Woods.  

It talked back to him, making this odd little chirping sound that American grey squirrels don't make.  Perhaps it was telling Ken that it was good that he was visiting Canada, and that maybe when we go back to the States, we'll remember our Canadian vacation & continue to compost our garbage.  I don't know.  But Ken was crouched down for quite a while, saying things like "You're a fine little fellow, aren't you?" to the squirrel while other Green Gable fans cut a wide swath around him.  

Let me say that again: other Green Gable fans. Ken's love of the little brown squirrel was a little too sweet for other fans of Anne.


I was proud of him, though, really, as I always am, and even though I threatened to buy him the straw hat with the red pigtails on it in the gift shop afterwards, I was even prouder of him later that evening.

So.  Act Two.  We returned to our picturesque vacation rental, a barn/cottage sort of place outside Charlottetown.  I started to cook dinner.  Ken made me a delicious cocktail.  And a rattle rattle bang bang bang came from the (happily un-lit) woodstove in the living room.   

"What the Hell was that?" said I.

And it clattered again.  Ken had been busily watching birds outside our window.  A very dark thought struck him.

"I hope it's not a bird!!  It could die in there!" said Ken.  "I'm calling the landlord!"

The lucky couple who gets to rent to us lives right next door.  I'm sure they were starting dinner preparations also.  Robert came right over, bearing a tote bag.  He and Ken took apart the woodstove, spilling plenty of soot around in the process.  I went into a downstairs bedroom, to take a cell phone call from my sister.   Somewhat later, Robert was gone and Ken was happy.

"It was a sweet little bat!" he said.  "Look!"

Indeed, there was a little brown bat, outside our back door, looking a bit put out at being awakened before twilight.  I sipped my cocktail and got back to cutting up the yummy tomatoes I'd just bought from a farm market nearby. My sister called back, to continue our conversation. 

 "It was a bat," I told her.  

My sister is terrified of bats.  She hates them.

"Ugh," she said.

"But you'd really like it here," I told her.

She didn't seem enthused.

"Um--there are no bear on Prince Edward Island," I said.  "Or moose."

"Perhaps there will be some tomorrow," she said, "In your wood stove."

And a little while later, as if to prove her point, the stove clattered again.


Ken got back on the phone.  For the next twenty minutes or so, he and Robert spilled more soot, hauled the stove around, and tried to figure out what the heck was still in there.  Robert finally left, but nothing else emerged.  Five minutes after he was gone, the noise happened again.  Ken got down to business.  Soon a starling came flying out of the stove, crashed into the front windows, and allowed itself to be collected from the floor by Ken.  The bird was a bit dazed, but uninjured.  Ken gently put his hand around it, absolutely delighted.  

"Wait till I show ROB!!" he shouted to me, and ran happily out the door into a cloud of vicious Prince Edward Island mosquitoes.   The bird roused from its stupor a bit and began to scream.  Rob's wife and family, seeing Ken's manic run toward their house, also spilled outside, holding back two dogs and a cat who would surely have thwarted Ken's Operation Starling Rescue in an ugly manner.  

Rob came back to our place with Ken a little while later.

"Saint Francis of Assisi," he said, slightly under his breath.  He said he'd put the wood stove back together sometime today.  I felt for him--but I wouldn't be making this post if I weren't also really proud of the loon I married.  Last night was his favorite night of the whole vacation.
And now it's time for both of us to go enjoy today's sunshine.


N said...

Well, I know he wouldn't have had a chance at your heart if he weren't exactly as he is. Tell him there are three orphaned fawn (I saw their mother's corpse on 9W yesterday); does he want to take action with Juliet?

chrispy said...

Ken says he'll help Blue with the fauns as soon as we get home after Labor Day. Is there anything we can do long-distance from PEI?

T J said...

Ken is Noah. Desmond will build him an arc. "Ken, the Animal Whisperer's Grand 'Ole Arc" he can call it. They will line-up. You could bring in some crafty merch vendors and get sponsorships from green companies. It all ties together with the inspiring compost discipline of Canada (that you can now do on your new arc). Brilliant!

chrispy said...

Thanks, Treavor!