Sloth and Me

It’s International Sloth Day, so I thought I’d say a few words about my writing buddy, Sloth. Yes, I named him Sloth. I borrowed the idea from my granddaughter who named her stuffies sensibly: Puppy, Teddy, Foxy, and Spidey, a stuffed spider I bought her when she was fascinated by spiders.

I bought Sloth in a small gift shop. When I met him, I fell for his smile, an adorable sweet grin that said, “Gee you’re wonderful, I’ll always be your friend.” He cost more than a sensible, mature person like me wanted to spend on a stuffed toy, but I bought him and tucked him in my purse, like I was Paris Hilton and Sloth was Tinkerbell the Chihuahua.

Sloth took up residence on my writing desk, sitting astride my electric pencil sharpener. After I moved my writing office from the living room into a spare bedroom, Sloth decided to sit on the bookshelf.

I used to joke I kept Sloth nearby when I wrote to remind myself there was someone even slower than me. Rather cheeky of me, still I pictured Sloth typing three words per minute. But recently my writing process from a rough draft to a finished piece is so slow that I make Sloth seem like a jaguar pouncing through the forests of South America.

Perhaps, I began to think, Sloth was mocking me with his sublime smile. That he always knew he was faster than me. That if he could get his three toes on my keyboard, he’d clack out prose at speeds much faster than me.

Then I looked at his smiling face again. Sloth doesn’t mock. He understands slow. He understands pacing. He understands conservation of energy. Sloth has his own international day, hoping to bring awareness to deforestation and loss of habitation for sloths.

Writers have an international day, too, on March 3. Sloth thinks I can finish writing something by then, especially if it’s flash. Cheeky fellow.

Walking in the Wind with the Dogs

The view as we started our morning walk

Yesterday, Ziva, Bogey, and I went for our first walk at 8:00 a.m., our second walk at 1:30 p.m., and our last walk at 4:30. We let the 20-mph winds off Lake Michigan push us down the road, until we had to turn around, then we leaned into the wind and pretended we were walking to school, uphill, in a snowstorm, for five miles. A bit histrionic but fun.

Ziva’s and Bogey’s ears flapped and fluttered in the wind, but my ears were tucked under my stocking cap. I liked stocking caps when I was a girl who played in the snow, but when I turned thirteen, I wouldn’t wear a hat in winter, no matter how cold it was. I wasn’t going to mess up my hair. Instead, I arranged my long, not-so-thick hair over my ears, trying to keep them warm.

Now I have four favorite knit stocking caps, and when it’s cold, I wear one. I even have a knit hat with earflaps that ties under my chin. I’m not letting my head or ears freeze. My nana always told me, “Keep your head and your feet warm, and the rest of you will follow.” I think about her when I put on a stocking cap and a pair of wool socks. Nana repeated her “warm head, warm feet” advice to me a lot when I was a foolish, hatless teenager, dashing through cold winter days.

One of my granddaughter’s leaf creations, October 2020

Yesterday’s picture theme: autumn-colored leaves. I took oodles of photos of newly fallen leaves because I could see that each one was unique, deserving to be photographed. If my granddaughter had been with me, she would’ve collected the leaves, oohing over each one, handing them to me to hold as she collected more to use in art projects.

Around 9:00 p.m., I took the dogs out in the yard for their last potty break of the day. The swirling wind whipped up a smorgasbord of scents, stirring something primal in Ziva and Bogey. They sniffed the air and the ground, weaving in and out of bushes, looking for little critters. Under the full moon, they chased each other, zooming in circles, like a couple of young pups with the crazies. Autumn makes me feel that way too.

Overlooking Lake Michigan on our morning walk
Moonlight in Michigan
(The sky around the moon was much darker, but this is how my phone camera interpreted the light.)

An Early Morning Walk with Ziva and Bogey

The morning rainbow

When I walked Ziva and Bogey this morning shortly after sunrise, the sky was a jumble of dark clouds and bright blue patches. The sun illuminated gold, orange, and red leaves, giving the impression they were lit from within. Of course, the dogs had to wait while I snapped pictures, and I never tire of taking pictures of trees dressed in fashionable autumn colors. When the dogs became impatient, I reminded them that I spend lots of time waiting for them while they smell blades of grass, tree trunks, and mailbox posts.

Finally, we turned down another road, and I spotted part of a rainbow. Out came my camera phone, again. As I alternated between walking and taking pictures, the rainbow became an arch, one end appearing to dip into Lake Michigan and the other end appearing to stand in a field about a half-mile away, giving the impression that if the dogs and I set off across the field, we would find the end of the rainbow with a leprechaun and a pot of gold.

As a child, I knew about leprechauns who guarded their gold at the end of the rainbow from people who tried to steal it. My sisters and I fantasized about finding the rainbow’s end and the leprechaun with his riches, but we knew it was a folktale.

If the tale had been true, I’d have picked the leprechaun over the gold, which I knew meant wealth, but only in the way a six- or seven-year-old understands wealth. Besides, I lived in a comfortable home with plenty of food in the cupboard. But a leprechaun was a magical two-foot-high man with orange hair, dressed in green, smoking a pipe, and speaking with an Irish brogue. According to folklore, if we would’ve caught a leprechaun, he would’ve granted us three wishes in exchange for his freedom.

This morning while walking on the country road, watching the rainbow form a half circle through the sky, I wished that the fields and trees in this enchanted place would stop disappearing. In the eight years I have been visiting my mom, ten new homes have been built, and each one stands on an acre of land. Each new house means a loss of trees and fields. A loss of habitat for birds, bees, butterflies, and small critters that I don’t see, but the hawks who perch in the trees are evidence of their existence.

Today, looking at the rainbow arching over the still undeveloped fields, I don’t wish for gold or to meet a magical leprechaun protecting his stash. I imagine a leprechaun at the end of today’s rainbow protecting a field, keeping it safe for insects, birds, and small critters, and I wish that each homeowner in this neighborhood would leave a strip of field along their lot lines.