There are many difficulties in being me, not the least of which is my seemingly never-ending ability to contract arcane and obscure ailments. Don’t believe me? Well, how many people do you know who, in this day and age, can say they’ve had scurvy? Yes, that’s right. Scurvy. I’ve had it, a mild form, but still. You can imagine The Mom’s face when I told her. Though, to be fair, at the time I was living in my university dorm and for food had coffee and C Plus Orange pop with 10% vitamin c. Which, you’ll have correctly guessed, is not enough to stave off scurvy.
But never mind.
Each summer when I go home I being immediately begging to be taken to our little farm. I say farm but really it’s nothing near as productive as that. It’s basically a piece of land that’s gone well beyond managed neglect and has now been taken over entirely by beavers. Or so I’m told. Since I don’t know quite how to get there on my own, because I’m terrible in cars and fall asleep almost immediately (another reason I’m not normally allowed to go too far in the car when I’m at home, falling asleep at the wheel is beyond frowned upon at The Mom’s). I have to wait until someone else wants to go and then together we launch an appeal until everyone else is either so tired of hearing about it that they acquiesce, or decide, willingly, that it might be a fun day trip of an outing.
While everyone else gets ready, I’m normally to be found attached to my laptop, scribbling something down or trading barbs and banter with someone who is not currently in the same area code or country. When someone, usually Crazy D, shouts that the car is leaving with or without me in precisely one minute, I fly down the stairs from my bedroom, shove my feet into plastic flip-flops and get in the car. Whereupon everyone, including the dogs, will look at me and shake their heads.
“You cannot wear those shoes.”
“Bare arms? You’ll be riddled with mosquito bites in seconds. You will not like that.”
“No hat? It’s blazing hot. You’ll burn and have sunstroke before we even get to the pond.”
“Did you go to the bathroom? No? Go now. We’re not stopping until the Tim’s in Fergus.”
“Sunblock? Did you apply any? You don’t have that kabuki-esque pallor that only your delicate flower type sunblock normally gives you. No you cannot use mine because it will make your eyes swell and water and there’ll be no hearing the end of it.”
“I’m serious about the flip-flops. Go and get your Wellies. Now.”
And so on and so forth until such time, ten minutes later, when I have done everything they have told me to do and am now waiting, seething somewhat, in the car that smells like farts and dog breath.
When we finally get there, I sally forth, deep into weeds that are taller than I am and am squealing with delight. I do rather enjoy my annual dose of proper nature. I scramble along quickly with the dogs and follow them, or at least try, because they’ll be able to find something interesting, possibly a beastie of some sort, and that has the kind of adventure that I’m looking for.
When we find the beaver dam, I quickly find a stick and start poking about, excited that I may find something even more interesting than whatever it is the dogs have found and shouldn’t have found and are now eating or rolling in.
Which is generally when someone sensible (which is all the rest of them) tells me to stop doing what I’m doing that was fun and to just stand there quietly and consider matters from a philosophical point of view. This of course ruins my fun and puts me in a somewhat foul humour.
That is, until I’ve now heard of this beaver fever business which I’m am sure to contract. Over here, in England, and in London specifically, you don’t often find a beaver and his lovely dam. And it makes me feel quite Canadian in a perhaps misguided way, but still. It is a proud and noble beast and part of my heritage. And I would very much like to meet one face to face one day soon. But the thought of having an illness that gives one diarrhea, when I already have that, on an almost constant basis, is off- putting to say the least.
So I’m in a quandary about my upcoming visit and the potential of meeting Mr Beaver. I would still like to meet him, but perhaps this year I’ll take more precautions and care with my attire. Maybe it’s time for something in a hazmat suit. That way, I could both meet Mr Beaver, and not contract yet another ridiculous ailment. One lives in hope.