Sunday, October 11, 2015
Voices in the Dark
The other night, I overheard the most remarkable discussion. As utterly ridiculous as it may sound, I could have sworn I heard Ike and Mimi having a conversation. Oh, I know it sounds completely absurd, and folks will speculate I had been nipping at Grandpa’s cough syrup, but I know what I heard.
In the small hours of the morning, while tucked away cozily in bed, Mimi snoring by my side, I heard a wee little voice: “Mimi! Mimi! You awake?” coming from downstairs. “Naww…” I thought while blinking my sleep heavy eyes.
“I am now.” I heard a voice beside me say. “What is it? A burglar?”
“No, nothing that cool. Boy, would I run him off!”
“Sure, Junior. You just keep thinking like that.” She emitted a big yawn, then “Good night, Ike.”
“No wait! I saw something big eating LB’s hostas.”
“Yes. They are known as “White-tailed deer”. The Latin name is Odocoileus Virginianus. They are so named because the early settlers, at least the ones who bothered to record such arcane things, encountered them in the Virginia Colony.”
“They are a member of the ungulate genus, along with moose, caribou, horses, camels, and other such hoofed mammals.”
“No one is late, you Bil-Jac head! Un-gu-late… a hoofed mammal!”
By now, I was upright in bed, frantically mashing buttons on my phone. I was amazed! A dog which I had always assumed had the IQ of a banana was absolutely right!
“What Ike?” I detected a slight tone of annoyance in her voice now.
“How did you learn all this stuff?”
“Well, after 12 years of reading the guy who is married to LB’s Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Field and Stream magazines, some things sunk in, I guess.”
“Ahhhh, I see. Thanks, Meem.”
“No problem, Little Buddy. Good night.”
Silence settled over the house for a short period. Then….
“Yes, Ike, I am awake” she replied in an icy tone.
“Why don’t they call those deer “Whatever you said Ohionus”?
“At that period of our nation’s history, Ohio didn’t exist. It was part of the continent which was disputed between France and England. Settlement was highly discouraged, not only for political reasons, but also safety.”
“Safety? Why? Were there monsters?”
“No, no monsters that were known. The indigenous peoples of the area had, for the most part, a decidedly less than receptive view of illegal immigration than their counter-parts to the East and Northeast. “
“Oh. Hey, are there many deer around?”
“Oh my, yes! The white-tail subspecies we have here is the most widely naturally distributed large mammal in North America. It is by far the most common large mammal in the State. In the late 1960’s there were about 17,000 deer in all of Ohio. Today, there are estimated to be 700,000 plus.”
“Wow! I think about half of them visit LB’s garden.”
“So, don’t worry, Little Buddy, they won’t harm you. Unless, of course, you irritate a buck during mating season, then all bets are off.
“Okay, thanks, Mimi. I feel better. Good night.”
“Good night, pal.”
I snuggled under the blankets, my mind trying to decipher what had just transpired. I gave the pillow a couple of adjustment thumps. Sleep was gently overtaking me, when I heard it…
“Mimi! Mimi! What is this thing!?”
“What now, Ike?” she replied rather snappishly.
“This thing is really weird! It has a white head, with a sort of long snout and a kind of a pig nose. The ears look like little pieces of black leather. It has this really kind of scruffy gray fur, and it looks like little tiny hands for feet. And, the tail! It has no hair at all!”
“Ahhhh, yes. You have just met a member of Didelphis virgininana…or the Virginia opossum, most often referred to simply as “’possum”. Did you know they are marsupials?”
“Really? Wow! No I didn’t. Uh… what is a marsupial?”
“A mammal with an external pouch in which it carries yet unborn babies while they mature to their birth size. A kangaroo is a marsupial.”
“Wow! Pretty strange, huh?”
“Actually, they are fascinating little creatures, Let me explain….”
At that point, I pulled the pillow over my head as Mimi’s Biology lecture droned on.
Before I fell asleep, I made a mental note to lock up my outdoor magazines.