I was Upstate, New York last week, at my sister, Catherine's, helping to watch my grandnephews, Elijah and Cedric over a couple of days. Dad lived with Catherine and Ralph, so he got to to know Elijah well. But Dad left this world last year on today's date, October 16th and Cedric was born four days later, on the day of Dad's funeral. A lot of memories resurfaced on my visit. But to break it up, something bizarre was thrown into the mix, causing Elijah and I to experience a nature walk that felt more like an emotional roller coaster.
Elijah will be eight years old in early November, and we've discovered a couple of enjoyable rituals when we're together. I like to walk along with his little brother in the stroller, while he rides his bike and demonstrates his skidding and tricks. We also take what he calls "nature walks."
On Wednesday, he completed his homework after school, and I double-checked it, using a Google search to interpret his third grade math vocabulary. Then we walked, enjoying the crisp, October air, observing the leaves in their early stages of change. He showed me the resident caterpillars that inched along the garage door and others that clung to the tall grass as we walked along the hilly road.
There was a house along our walk that belonged to Elijah's school bus friend. And though the home was lovely, they lived on a farm, and owned a pig that he’d spotted from the school bus earlier.
There are no sidewalks in his neighborhood, so when cars approached, we stopped walking and turned sideways to let the cars pass. I was pleased (even as my heart palpitated) to see that the drivers took extreme safety measures to avoid hitting us, except they drove on the oncoming side of the road.
As we approached Elijah's friend's farm, he pointed out the gigantic pig that he'd seen earlier, and it returned our stare. It was uncanny that my last post featured photographs of my resident spider's cool webs. Now we were looking at the proverbial Wilbur -- the pig from the childhood tale Charlotte's Web.
We smiled, stunned by it's speed as the top-heavy pig with it's tiny legs darted towards us. I took snapshots with my phone as it hurried along, and then stopped to sip from a puddle. He then scurried towards the pumpkin at the end of the driveway and chomped at its stem, snorting. He was now at the end of the driveway that marked his boundary. He knew that, right?
It sped out onto the paved road, where the cars had been passing. The concept of a peaceful walk was gone. I looked towards the house, but no one was there.
If only the pig understood English! CARS! CRASH! PIGNAPPERS! BACON!
With his butt part way in the roadway, Wilbur snorted and sniffed, and I imagined ways to stop him. If I ran after him, he'd run faster, further. And what would I do once I caught up with him?
Elijah's eyes were wide. "Let's go tell them," he said, motioning towards the house. Judging the length of the never ending driveway, by the time we got to their door, the pig would have been in Toledo. He was already making tracks.
I've been in panic situations before, but I always thought of something quick, even if it wasn't the best solution, at least I was in motion. But this time, I just froze, feeling responsible.
Deep breath. Perhaps the pig's wandering was normal. Yeah, that's right! This is normal.
There was a neighbor across the road, doing lawn work. I cleared my throat and shouted. "Does that pig normally take walks?" The young man didn't look up from his work. Then I saw them... the gawd forsaken wires hanging from his ears. Dang ear buds! Did sound have to permeate every activity? What about birds chirping, rustling leaves, pigs snorting? Oh gawd! The poor thing! Roadkill! I flailed my arms and the neighbor plucked his ear buds out.
"Does the pig take walks?" He smiled. "No, in fact, this is a first. I think I'll take a picture," he muttered, pulling out his phone. He then utilized his rake to shoo the pig back towards the house, and Runaway Wilbur made a u-turn and grunted back towards the driveway.
Elijah's friends appeared, looking for Wilbur, and we flagged them. They ran towards him with a small eating feeding tray and lured him back home, while the guy with the rake stood behind as a backup deterrent. As Wilbur followed the food, I asked if he'd normally walked off the property and they said, no, it was the first time.
Gee thanks, Wilbur.
Elijah and I walked home, quiet, thinking about the stroll past the farm and the runaway pig. Maybe we'd try walking in the other direction next time. But we'll probably meet a bear.