I studied zoology at Rutgers with the great Dr. Henry Greenfield, the best professor around. And I learned a lot. But that was more than 60 years ago, so I’ve forgotten a lot too. I do remember most miserably the day I got a rat of my own to dissect. She was quite dead, had been pregnant, and our lab instructor, a Mr.Bustamonte, took great joy in plopping the dead rat on the trays carried by women…..who were known as girls in those days! All those girls, now women, those still alive, will never forget that moment. And to tell the truth I never had an attachment for my white rat, then or now, or even felt sad that she had landed on the tray of someone who was merely filling a course requirement and was never going to discover a cure for any dread disease because of our relationship. She was just a hapless victim and neither she nor I gained anything particularly valuable from our time together.
I forgot about her until recently when I noticed a plague of rodents had settled down in our neighborhood. You know I’m in New Jersey and not Israel since Israel has different animal plagues, like pigeons who build homes on merpesits and are a curse to man and women. If you are a pigeon lover I apologize but you’ve clearly never walked into your laundry room in Herzliya after a few weeks on vacation and found so much pigeon poop that you needed a handy husband and shovel to get rid of it. No, folks, I am no pigeon lover.
But, here in New Jersey, we’ve been seeing a different species, mammals indeed, and cute ones for sure, unless they land on your body or in your house. It has been a year for chipmunks to be fruitful and multiply. They are just all over. And the critters are fast as, as they say, greased lightning. I know Israel doesn’t welcome any chipmunks since I just checked with my family expert, my sister, who has been an Israeli far longer than I and is a better source even than Google. Nope, she confirmed, no chipmunks in Israel. Nor squirrels by the way.
And so, how can a critter that’s so cute bring me in from a peaceful morning outside on the front walk, reading the New York Times. Easy. I was minding my business, reading the dreadful news about the pandemic, the demonstrations against racism, Mr.Bolton, and, heading the list, the so-called president. All this was endlessly fascinating and, honestly, unbelievable. I actually didn’t know which report was the most disturbing since they were all even much worse than pigeons. And sitting there, getting more aggravated by the minute, and minding my own business, a chipmunk flew (I know he didn’t fly but he was sure fast, like I said before, as greased lightning) right over to me as if he wanted to make contact, have a chat, or snuggle onto my lap. So I did what any former girl, now woman, would do. I screamed so loud it might have been heard in Jerusalem. I know. He was only a chipmunk but, I was startled out of my skin and in no need of a new pet or friend.
Well, this terrified the little guy and he retreated immediately to what I suppose is his home, under a shrub. I yelled after him. “So you think you’re scared? I’m more scared than you!)”. And then, pounding heart (mine and his I guess) I went back to the horrible news reports. Not a minute passed when his cousin, or uncle or sibling, came charging over for a visit. They looked like relatives but this one came from a different direction. Once again I screamed but this time, as he disappeared from whence he came I took my New York Times and retreated into the house. It was not a relaxing morning.
So, what’s good about this little tale? Or should I be crafty and say tail? Not much, but, I was diverted from the horrible news of the day, the week, the month, the year, and maybe forever. So, I guess that’s good. Anything that can take one’s mind off the pandemic, the demonstrations, Mr. Bolton, and the so-called leader of the free world, deserves respect. So thanks chipmunks. You’re not so bad after all!