Today I'd like to ask you about animal encounters.
Recently I've taken up running again – firing up Zombies Couch to 5K, a spin-off of the wildly popular Zombies, Run! app – and have been enjoying exploring my new neighbourhood on foot. I mostly run alongside a river, which has meant, this spring and summer, watching ducklings and goslings grow from small fuzz-bundles into lanky teenagehood, glimpsing frogs winking up out of still water, watching starlings and red-winged blackbirds build nests. These encounters are mostly passive, appreciative, peaceful.
But a couple of days ago, while running, I had a wholly different experience. I remember it as a series of jagged realizations, strange pictures in my mind splintering. I was running – I saw something long and colourful on the ground in front of me – I thought, "oh, a snake!" – my body abruptly jerked, stopped, as if totally out of joint with my thoughts – I heard myself YELP as I leapt to the side, away from it – I watched it, with a pang of excitement and anguish, slither away.
It was an Eastern Ribbon snake, and extremely beautiful. I love snakes, have no problem handling them, have dear friends who keep a house full of terraria and let me invite their gorgeous Corn snakes to wind up my wrists and around my neck like ancient sacred jewelry. I was stunned by my body's involuntary reaction – I knew the snake wasn't venomous, was extremely unlikely to harm me in any way, but still its enormous unusual length (it was, while slightly undulated, almost 3 feet long) did something to me, activated my monkey-brain in ungraceful ways. I was afraid of stepping on it. I was afraid of its lifted, slender head striking at me, or being crushed under my foot. The fear of hurting it and the fear of being hurt by it were absolutely twinned.
The following day, I was walking with Stu, greeting goslings and marvelling at giant burdock leaves, when I realized I hadn't told him about the snake. As I did – as he compared me, aptly, to a cat encountering a cucumber – I said that I'd wished I'd been able to snap a photo and show him the snake, its length, its bright yellow-on-black pattern.
Literally in that moment, I looked down and saw one. Bundled, this time, in some bushes near the side of the path, looping in and around itself; as we watched, it unspooled slowly towards the water. Nowhere near where I'd seen the other one – just a moment of lithe grace chiming briefly with my life, making a story of itself.
I'd love to know about animal encounters you've had that have stayed with you in some way – that startled, delighted, moved you.
Postscripts of News:
- Last night was the premiere of Dressed As People! Huge thanks to everyone who joined our Opening Night Cocktail Q&A; it was lovely and moving, and we were all so grateful for your enthusiasm and generosity in sharing your experiences of the show. (If you're sad to have missed it, we'll be doing another event for closing night at 9PM EST on June 27 – you can register now!)
- Un/Fortunately, Dressed As People ticket sales have been sufficiently voluminous that the Fringe's streaming partner's been having problems! If you have any trouble with the viewing link arriving too late (or in some cases, too early?!), please write to firstname.lastname@example.org with proof of purchase and they'll set you up with a direct link. (There's no fear of tickets running out in an on-demand system – just some confusion over when the links arrive, which, given the 7-day window and the fact that people may want to make a date of the experience, is annoying, and we're sorry!)
- SPEAKING of purchase – some of you have expressed confusion over the box office system. "PYP" stands for "Pick Your Price"; the Fringe is a non-profit and all ticket sales go to the artists mounting the shows, so it's up to you to decide whether you'll pay $15 or $50. The Fringe just wants to give folks with more cash the option to pay more if they're so moved while keeping it more generally affordable. You absolutely get the same show regardless of what you pay.
We're all so grateful for your support and patience as the Fringe sorts these things out!
To return to the theme of animal encounters – here's a photo of Millie trying on one of my prospective outfits for last night's Zoom party. She wore it so well I ended up choosing something else.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend,