Pet sitting is one of those charges that benefits everybody. I don't quite know why Renee asked me to watch Nimbus and Walker's three elaborate aquariums, other than they needed someone to do it and my time is readily and widely available as of late. The habitat biologist wrapped me in a sturdy hug, amid the bustle of Thursday pizza and beer at my going away party, and asked if hanging out with her pupper and fish would be something I'd be interested in. Two weeks later, here I stand, agog at the whirling schools of freshwater fish, snails, shrimp, and aquatic plants oozing life into every crevasse of some 150 gallons of tanks. Nimbus, bless him, is a large white dog with no affinity for licking and two obscenely large brown eyes for staring longing at his boy's empty bed.
It's these little kindnesses that roll us up in a carpet of community comfort. The worry and oblique stress of maintaining upward thoughts whilst swimming in funemployment lose some of their force when redirecting your attention to a wall of hanging plants in a home greenhouse, or sipping hot Lipton while watching a school of neons dart betwixt the tangles of their underwater forest. Air becomes thicker. Pleasant. Restful. Contract science wasn't exactly the halcyon days worthy of mourning, but work gives us something to anchor our routine to, and without it, there is just the time to do any and everything. And the motivation to do none of it.
Count the house plants one more time. Fill the water dish. Take another walk. Sit before the laptop, and in the soft glow of its utility, find nothing more the apply for. Day dream of the things to come. Watch the fish circling lazily about themselves.
I wonder what kind of snail that is? Let us find out. Probably a channeled applesnail. Could they be eaten? Looks like. Oh look! Three different colors of Amano shrimp! They so cute, with their little arms always nomming away at the detrius material Walker puts in every few weeks. Om nom nom nom...do the different algae and bits of decay taste different? Maybe. Not that a shrimp would deign to be so discerning. They're all much more active at night, which is a darn shame as I don't stick around long enough to score a sound photo of the tiger fish's busy exercise -that, and I have certainly spent an unreasonable amount of time trying and even on Sports setting, failed to capture their loveliness in action. I like to watch the snails. The big fatty at the start of this article (I call them Monster Snail) unfurls in the evening hours, eye stalks and tentacles caressing leaves and shoots out of its way as their mouth squeegees delicately on the surfaces it's crossing. Hopefully, that would be the glass pane separating us, so that I may giggle inwardly at the funny little gaping of its cephilapodic maw. You wouldn't think snails to be an engrossing entertainment, but the outrageous squee from Megan says otherwise. When you watch her eyes twinkle in a cuteness reflecting the adorable show, an active snail does seem to play the part of intentional executant.
Personally, I think the sleeping Monster Snail is my favorite. Tendrils all curled up into their shell in daylight hours, snug as a bug in a rug. Gelatinous and docile to its plight as a domestic breeder, hygienist, and pet. Renee is also a rockhound- of course. Stones appear peppered about the house, half buried in the pots with plants, supporting shrimp and moss balls in tanks, sunning in the open sills, and generally giving the entire abode the feel of having entered Aladdin's treasury. Some of those treasures being a pink nose and exceptionally soft belly in need of scritches and cuddles.
Curl up with your over-active frontal lobe, crack the book in your bag titled Sex, Time, and Power, and recline in a warm, loving space brimming over with life and toddler effects. Read. Sip. Slumber. Walk like you have somewhere to be. Cast off the inert lethargy that infiltrates a shattered weekly routine. Nimbus and I loll into disconnected comfort. He, in a dog bed with legs splayed upward and head tilted so that he may occasionally check that I am still near, still acknowledging our sharing of his family's space; myself, excavating the evolutionary transition of Homo erectus to Homo sapiens to Gyna sapiens -how this author refers to the females of early Homo sapiens, as they are the recipients of the reproductive pressures (stupidly high death toll for giving birth with huge baby brains and narrow, up-right pelvis bones).
Another day spent snailfully snoozing in springtime Spokane.
Maybe finishing that illustration for the cover of Matt's story collection, Santa Claus vs. Dracula, would be an afternoon well spent. Let us find out.
With love & nothing else,