Daily Archives: July 19, 2018

Home > Daily Archives: July 19, 2018

GIFTS by Jenny Jensen

July 19, 2018 by in category On writing . . . by Jenny Jensen tagged as ,
Gifts | Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange



Now and again I’ll read a book where the author’s voice is so compelling, their world building so powerful it’s like an alien abduction, a zombie infusion, a body snatching. I’ll catch myself channeling that author—at least for a time. So right now I am firmly in the mad, irreverent, outlandishly silly yet uplifting world of Carpet Diem (Jason Lee Anderson). I’ve been sucked into the Neil Gaiman vortex of crazed angels and demons and us poor mortals made to dance to their warped tune.


I live in the Rio Grand river valley. We’re crosshatched with acequias, the irrigation canals that bring river water to the surrounding fields. Every morning I walk my dog early — best to beat the heat — along the canal banks. We take the same route each day because there is whole action packed world there and I like to keep up with events.


Come spring the Rio Grande is let to run in the canals and the wildlife — being very smart wildlife — flock to it. The canal banks are covered in the ubiquitous NM dust, which is fine and dry and holds tracks beautifully. There are always signs of skunks, raccoons, pheasants and ducks, the occasional stray dog, muskrats and snakes. The large, imperious bullfrog doesn’t leave any tracks but I sometimes hear his throaty voice and once I saw him sitting above the culvert surveying his grounds. He’s huge and handsome and his head is the most brilliant emerald green. Definitely a King.


In May newly wed mallards showed up and made their nest in King’s culvert. I did my best to keep Lizzy from their nesting spot and it mostly worked, but you know how boarder collies are — very bossy and she insists on letting this pair know she knows they’re there. Reg and Sybil Mallard have learned to ignore Miss Lizzy. I knew we’d see ducklings eventually but I began to despair of that when it became clear a while ago that a skunk had chosen that spot for a den. Guess it’s prime real estate but I can’t imagine the Mallard’s laying their eggs next to a skunk, never mind the telltale aroma.


This morning I see seven ducklings emerge from the culvert’s edge to waddle self-consciously up onto the road. I grabbed Lizzy’s collar before she could give chase and the sound startled the fuzzy adolescents. They paused for a second, flapping their untried wings like flustered church ladies clasping their pearls, then made a bee line across the road and back down to the water. At my feet I see the tracks of two raccoons circling the trail of a muskrat and the patter of tiny skunk feet weaving in and out among them. The pencil like trail of a snake circles all that frantic motion and the distinct webbed feet of the mallard’s tracks the parameter. Standing back I see the paw prints of an inordinately large dog pacing to and fro. Clearly there was some raucous action last night.


I am puzzled. Since when does a bullfrog share territory with a skunk, not to mention a skunk is not a duck’s natural neighbor? Raccoons do not ordinarily do-si-do with muskrats, snakes or skunks and what kind of dog has paws that big? With the voice of that story still singing in my head I suddenly understand. King bullfrog is the enchanted form of that legendary singer no one has sighted for years. The rest is obvious.


Reg and Sybil are angels (or demons; it’s sometimes hard to tell in the genre-bending universe of Gaiman-esque world building) sent to protect the King’s divine pearl guitar pic. The skunk is their warrior, the muskrat and snake their scouts, the raccoons are the troops none can sneak past. The big dog (wolf?) is an unscrupulous but soundly thwarted thief. The pic must remain where it is or every impersonator would fail and the legend would die. Some things must remain sacred.


Lizzy and I go home, satisfied that all can be made right with the world. It’s like a spell. Every good book gifts the reader a great escape, and some give the gift that keeps on giving — for a while at least.

0 0 Read more

Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM