Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happy Armistice Day

I'm reading Rascal, by Sterling North, to my kids. As chance would have it, we read this part yesterday. Happy Veterans Day.
In Brailsford Junction the celebration began early. The decorated fire engines, automobiles, and horse-drawn conveyances crowded the streets in a noisy, happy parade. I interwove the spokes of my bicycle wheels with red, white and blue crepe-paper ribbons. With Rascal in the basket, I pedaled through the throng, ringing my bell as a small contribution to the joyous pandemonium. At eleven o'clock the fire whistle and all the church and schoolbells in town joined the chorus.

During the afternoon my elation slowly subsided, and I began oiling my muskrat traps for the season ahead. Rascal was always interested in whatever I was doing. But when he came to sniff and feel the traps, a terrible thought slowed my fingers. Putting my traps aside I opened one of the catalogues sent to trappers by the St. Louis fur buyers. There, in full color, on the very first page was a handsome raccoon, his paw caught in a powerful trap.

How could anyone mutilate the sensitive, questing hands of an animal like Rascal? I picked up my raccoon and hugged him in a passion of remorse.

I burned my fur catalogues in the furnace and hung my traps in the loft of the barn, never to use them again. Men had stopped killing other men in France that day; and on that day I signed a permanent peace treaty with the animals and the birds. It is perhaps the only peace treaty that was ever kept.


At 5:39 AM, Anonymous hungriestghost said...

Very touching story. I totally agree. Raccoons are beyond sweet. My first words were "purple raccoon", I swear. I love their allegorical nature. Destined to survive in this human wasteland through scavenging and ingenuity, but also cursed for the very same reasons, and all because of our incessant modernization. As we march forward, do not forget the raccoon.
FYI ancient raccon = didymictus, or something like that! too cool.


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