Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wild child

No words can capture the raw life force of my seven-year-old daughter, a child whose preferred weekend activity is to fill a pit with water, take a full-body mud bath, and then climb a tree.

On a recent trip to the school library, she scored big time: Animal Atlas of the World by E. L. Jordan, Ph.D. (Hammond Inc., 1969), a large green hardback, was being discarded by library staff, probably to make room for more princess books. Their loss was her gain, because she got to take that wonderful book home . . . forever!

After school, she sat on the couch poring over its pages with a highlighter and pen. As a rule, I am against scribbling in hardback books.  Then she explained she was not "scribbling," but annotating the text with her own thoughts. Well okay, then.

Flipping through Animal Atlas later, I was in awe that a small girl could imprint her very essence on a fifty-year-old reference work. A sampling of her comments:

Animal: Tasmanian Devil

Description: In its native land, this creature is regarded "with a mixture of annoyance and admiration." People "acknowledge the courage with which it attacks animals larger than itself" and devours them with its "splendid bone-crusher teeth."

Animal: Tasmanian Wolf

Description: These animals roam the "uninhabited wilderness . . . pursing their prey indefatigably until it is exhausted and surrenders."

Animal: Gorilla

Description: Usually "shy and retiring," this powerful primate "does not attack anyone without reason." However, it is "unmanageable as a pet; it may act well behaved until in periods of anger it drops all restraints normal to human beings."

Animal: Fennec

Description: "One of the most handsome of all animals, with fluffy, soft, long fur and big dark eyes. Its baby-like appearance is enhanced by the whimpering calls it utters when disturbed."

Animal: Dingo

Description: "The only flesh-eating non-marsupial in Australia."

Animal: Arctic Fox

Description: These icecap-dwellers "feed on whatever edibles come their way, dead or alive, lemmings and fish, young seals and whales washed ashore, or the leftovers of the polar bear's meals."

Animal: Gray Wolf

Description: "In general not nearly as bloodthirsty as it is reputed to be. It is adaptable, intelligent, loyal to its mate . . . " This animal "hunts in packs . . .  killing deer, elk and moose," and occasionally, under famine conditions, human travelers. Cubs are "born in a lair dug by their mother."

Is it just me, or is it time to get this kid a dog, already?