June 7, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

It’s a little creepy, the rat in back.

The tortoises are still in hibernation with March about to begin.  The bird feeder is posted above the tortoise cage, where the squirrels and birds scatter seeds on the leaves and snow that cover up the turtles.  I watch the sparrows and squirrels eating seeds, and I watch the rat eating seeds.  Just one rat.  He seems as comfortable in the daylight as the others.  I worry there will be more.

In a month, when the weather turns, I’ll have to reach deep into the turtle pen and haul out all the leaves stuffed in to keep the turtles warm.  These are Missouri/Arkansas tortoises transplanted to Chicago, hence the extra padding–they don’t dig deep enough.  I’m not excited about this task.  I hope that once I’ve cleared the refuse, the rat will go away.

About five years ago–after my October stuffing of leaves above the turtles after they’d dug themselves into the ground–I noted that my wedding ring was gone.  I figured the ring was in a leaf bag.  Maybe the ring was somewhere in the yard.  I couldn’t find it.  Marcia and I went and bought another.  I had my 800 number engraved inside the band.

That April, digging out the leaves and saying hello to sleepy turtles, I found my ring.  Evidently it slipped off while packing in the leaves.

Golden ring one year.  Rat this year.  Spring is eternally a surprise.

Life is full of rats and rings.  This combination of pleasant and disturbing surprises is good.  If there were no variation, we’d have no evolution or transformation.  Without oscillation, there would only be flat line.  No change, no life.  Death, from a Westerner’s perspective, is boring.

Perhaps change is the pattern that most obviously emerges at the four levels of evolution explored inside this blog.  Variation produces novelty in the biological, societal, ontogenetic and individual scales of experience.  In Chicago, we have a saying. “If you don’t like the weather, wait a bit.”

It’s almost March.  I love March because it precedes April, the most excellent month of all.  April in Chicago is a sensual feast, rats and rings and growing things, wind, warmth and thunderstorms.  The smell of dirt.

OK.  The rat can stay.  Well, philosophically, he can stay.  Come spring, he’s going to have to find new friends.  The sparrows and squirrels seem to like him, but the sparrows and squirrels don’t have to explain Mr. Rat to our row house neighbors as he gambols about in the leaves and snow.

Change is good.  Making the rat go away would be better.


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