Sunday, August 14, 2016

the part with the skunk and then we get to the dead chippies, liberalism, psycho-analysis: august prevails

August is thick. Every sight, every sound, every smell. Every touch of humid air saturated with heat with damp with dryness, saturates the skin, sears it, then the coolness of the river, bone deep; fields of yellow, up to the ears, prickly yellow, feathery; goldenrod saturating five feet thick off the ground; and if that cat leaves one more dead chipmunk, fat and sleek, on the morning’s doormat—; low sultry night of a sudden saturated with skunk up out of the dark, the stink, the stench, every molecule of air saturated with fetid foulness, this unmoving thick inertia air, the stench arrives like a spill of ammonia through the pores of a sponge; one can barely breathe but for the taste of it; but one must breathe, lying in the dark, windows open to the night, the night saturated with the summer sound of crickets and evening grasshoppers; the dark night saturated with August light, evening light, twilight, the light of midnight and dawn, the light that reflects on the underbelly of bulging white clouds streaked through with grey and the light that shines from the moon and the stars and the sun; the Milky Way; heat lightening and stardust; a galaxy of light; and the stink of skunk saturating through to the back of the throat, the summery taste of country roadside air alive with crickets, skunk; there’s no escaping; I drink hot tea but oh for a shot of moonshine.

So Elliott is leaving dead chipmunks on the doormat, and I was told this week that if we all understood the animal kingdom better, we would understand the perils of political liberalism, and thinking about it later I wondered if what this person was saying was that chipmunks are like liberals, thus winding up dead on the doormat, or, maybe, chipmunks represent the victims of a liberal viewpoint, I don’t know, the statement seemed a bit nutty to me, in a few different ways (one being, why is it the animal kingdom?), and I’m never quite sure of these things anyway, but, that these dead, perhaps liberal, chipmunks are removed from the doormat to be laid to rest with a prayer in the compost heap, I imagine that says something, too. And, as long as we’re talking nutty—and who isn’t these days?—what I believe is that these dead chipmunks, rather than being a show of Elliott’s hunting prowess, are revelations of his insecurities. No mere coincidence that Josie’s favorite toy is a furry, squeaky chipmunk. We call him/her “Chippie,” and we play with Chippie most every morning, flinging the little squeaker from kitchen to living room, Josie chases around the sofa, over the ottoman, retrieves gaily, and we do it all again. Elliott watches. Elliott goes out and brings to the doormat a real dead chippie and what—no applause? No festive hollers? No “Chippie, Chippie, Chip-EEEE!” Just a choked scream and a scowl? A solemn carrying away? Tell me: Does she really like him better than me?

Two dead chippies on a doormat.

That’s it for this week. Happy trails to you, vacations to all.


  1. Oh, that is so insightful! I think you have Elliott pegged. So, will you start showering him with approval? :D

    1. No! But I do thank him for each dead mouse, mostly he eats them, but for a tail and weird innards, left on the doormat, of course.