I was in the Audio Book corner of our neighborhood library not long ago when a deep male voice behind me rasped, “Hey, Baby, looking for fun?”
My insides threatened to jump out of my body so I froze for a minute before turning around. At my age, I needed to make sure that my sphincter muscles were in control after the way he had startled me. Whenever anyone calls me Baby, well. . . there is a history.
When I was a seventh grader, in the junior high library one day, a ninth grade jock-type yelled “Hey Baby!” in my direction. I turned around in sheer terror. I didn’t think it to be a flirtation for even a second. Because it was during a ninth-grade study hall, I thought he was calling me out because I was the only seventh grader in the room and he wanted the room at large to frown at the youngster/interloper. Or maybe he wanted to borrow a pencil.
He was calling beyond me to the scarlet-lipped brunette wearing a Dixie-cup bra beneath her very snug sweater at the next table. I’m guessed that he wasn’t looking for a pencil, although he was definitely eyeing the points in that sweater. I blushed painfully for even having the thought that he might have been calling me.
Not to worry about any tragic effects of my misunderstanding, for it did not affect my psyche. Granted, I am still talking about it some 60 years later, but I’m fine. Really. I’m fine.
This latest Psst! certainly wasn’t because I was the youngest one in the library. It wasn’t a dirty old man either. . . just our warped sense of humor next-door neighbor, Beau. He was there to select a couple of audio books for a trip that he and The Little Woman were taking soon.
Sometimes I think I spend half my time at the library, much of it outside on the grounds. I tend the reading garden in one area and for the last few months, I’ve been developing a fairy garden outside the floor-to-ceiling window of the children’s department. Because the library sits near a very busy street, the fairy garden is for viewing from inside, not actually playing in it.
It sounded like a simple enough task. I could use natural materials like sticks and moss and make it a wooded, magic place for any fairies looking for a home. The library fairy garden project was perfect for the child in me. (She stands near the thin woman in there, too.)
I was so, so wrong. Now, I dread even going to the library. The problem isn’t men; it’s the DAMNSQUIRRELS! Seriously!!! I’m not paranoid; sometimes they really ARE after you!
For instance, Dearly Beloved put a fairy door and two windows at the base of the large oak there. Although the squirrels could come down any section of that tree, they always scramble up and down over the fairy entrance, making certain they take out a window, if not more.
The carefully painted acorn mailbox perched on a twig did not even last a day before one of them snapped off the acorn for lunch. They left the twig. The little painted mushrooms encircling the mossy magic fairy ring have been upended so many times that I could have grown crops there more easily. The moss? Ruined. Again. Again. Again. There’s none there at present.
Because the fairy garden gets such rough treatment, I hesitate to ask for any funds for accessories, the natural materials I’ve been using aren’t holding up. Because they’re so easy to upend, I’ve even resorted to gluing things like the mushrooms to a weighted surface–a piece of old brick and things like chunks of roofing tiles, then I bury the “weights.” Homeland Security would be proud. But even that isn’t squirrel-proof.
I’m including a few pictures to give an idea of what I’m up against. If you have any suggestions that don’t involve squirrel corpses, let’s hear them!
The sand in the sandbox and around the duck pond . . . well, gawd only knows what goes on in there, but the sand constantly needs to be replaced. The idea was for the duck pond to look like a lake, not a Tupperware bowl, with sand all around it. The sandbox on the playground should be full. . . and the fence, as well as the fairy door on the tree behind, should be standing straight. That swing hanging in the brown basket used to have mazus groundcover beneath, to protect tender little fairy feet. Oh. . . and see those blue mushrooms? They look random, but they were part of the border of the magic fairy circle that was filled with green moss. There are red mushrooms, too–they’ve all been upended. (If you want to know what color scarf to knit your favorite squirrel, go with red.)
Here is the basketball goal with a found shingle “court.” It came from the library roof; I hope it isn’t causing a leak. The orange thing is a hammock, with a tree limb fairy house behind it. I haven’t seen any squirrels in the hammock yet.
The soda shop floor needs sweeping. If I left a squirrel-sized broom out there, do you suppose. . . ?
Of course not. They’re the ones that made the mess.
I don’t want to end this on a complaining note because there is, at least, an upside:
At least the little bastards don’t call me Baby.
No child but must remember laying his head in the grass, staring into the infinitesimal forest and seeing it grow populous with fairy armies. ~Robert Louis Stevenson, Essays in The Art of Writing