Now that my brain has melted into a soup in which float the ratio of the legs of a 30-60-90 degree triangle (1 to the square root of 3), the application requirements for various graduate programs, faculty profiles with photos that blur into a smiling, silver-haired, bespectacled amalgam, and fancy terms to describe my academic interests in teaching and writing (I mean “pedagogy” and “composition studies”), I feel the time has come for a return to the blog. Somehow, writing timed 30-minute practice GRE essays cannot compare with free writing–and I must say, my newfound ability to churn out two 700-word essays in one hour leaves little excuse for my lack of entries.
Well, I could go on, but I’d rather not ramble. While I’d prefer to be less of a GRE hermit and thrall to my applications, I know these applications and the revival of math skills for the GRE are probably making me smarter and forcing me to evaluate my history and purpose. So, no complaining–let’s talk about my favorite therapeutic topic, animals!
In the rolling hills of south-central Wisconsin roam camelids hailing from further south–South America, that is. At the honeymoon B&B, Sergey and I encountered a pair of alpacas. Alpacas are much like llamas, but more docile. One of the alpacas fit this description; white-furred like a lamb, it appeared uninterested in anything besides chewing its cud. The other, however, acted as the guardian of the pen. When we approached the enclosure, this redhead came charging at us. When I commented on his aggression to Sergey, he defended the beast. “He just wants to say hi!”
There are some animals who run at you when they truly just want to say hi. Actually, the only ones I can think of are dogs. But the gleam of anger in the eyes of this creature convinced me that his goal was not one of establishing a relationship with these visitors; it was to keep us out of his territory. Or he was really mad about his bad haircut, which left his body shorn but his head poofy.
Sergey optimistically persisted in trying to approach the Alpha Alpaca. Thankfully, no spitting resulted, but I swear it was a close call.
Over here in Haifa, our neighborhood offers three main forms of wildlife:
Around when Sergey and I moved to our current building, a family of kittens also took up residence. There are four striped ones and one spotted, plus a mom lurking around. They are excellent beggars, turning their innocent kitten faces toward us as we pass by, mewing hungrily. While I’ve always sided with dogs over cats, I have to say, this cat herd is pretty darn cute. My favorite is the cockeyed one.
Cats, while less adorable than their younger counterparts, offer their share of entertainment. In particular, there is a black cat that likes to roost on a tree stump outside our building. As we pass by, he lets out his strange cry of “meh, meh, meh.” No energetic “meow” for this feline; it is as if, world-weary or profoundly bored, all he can muster is a half-meow. He needn’t worry about a lack of cat voices in the world, though, since our days are often interspersed with sudden bursts of caterwauling.
At last we come to the jackals, the invisible neighbors who provide the canine counterpart to the caterwauling. Some nights, we will hear their chorus as a pack of them howls and yelps together. It’s a bit creepy, and it’s also odd to hear a sound I associate with wolves gathered in the middle of a forest so close to the heart of the city. Of course, this territory was theirs long before Haifa started expanding across the slopes of Mount Carmel.