Rudy’s smart; I know that by now. (How many ever successfully stowed away on the space shuttle?) Yet, as an 18-year-old he still has learning curves ahead of him.
Case in point: Gardening, something to which he’s shown a surprising talent. Last year Gran was his partner during the televised competition, and she saw untapped potential.
She’s a born teacher, and saw that he responds best to direct challenges. She then set herself up as his adversary.
A vital part of gardening is defending one’s crop. (Indoor gardening is strictly minor league to purists.) Rudy, being a wolf, felt that his reputation was protection enough. Repeated explanations to the contrary fell on deaf ears, so…She took another approach.
Several of her many grandchildren were enlisted to steal a section of his produce while she distracted him. They were returned just before the weigh-in.
That, he won’t forget.
8/24/14 CAMP: THE FINAL CHAPTER There was a lot going on this week, highlighted by the conclusion of Coney’s camp adventure. As reported, she was totally busted for switching places with Wendell. Dad and Kell were on their way to pick her up for breaking explicit camp rules when word came that her cousin Francis was outside the predator camp boundary. Coney has a canine sense of smell that she inherited from Kell, and was enlisted to find the missing human three-year-old (along with Wendell and Harcourt). A complication was the media; overnight they’d descended on the camps to report on the story of a rabbit bringing down a bear. The camp didn’t want it to get out that *two* security breeches had occurred on the same day, so they needed to maintain the fiction that Wendell was the savior. So, Coney had to find her cousin, and not get caught by the reporters. Dad and Kell were called to get their permission for Coney to join the hunt, and out of concern for Francis they agreed. As Coney proceeded through the brush she was stealthily protected by the counsellors following her closely. She quickly picked up Wendell’s scent and found all three within fifteen minutes. She and Wendell switched clothes, and he soon found himself before the newshounds. Coney was driven home. Despite the medical exam given at the camp, the parental units wanted to make sure that she hadn’t been exposed to rabies by the bear. Fortunately Dr. Caduceus confirmed the initial diagnosis. After that reassurance Kell was able to express her displeasure over Coney’s self-haircut. Kell’s sensitive about that, given her own traumatic experience with losing her hair that one time. Finally, Lin’s mother was told about the texting going on between Lin and Wendell. She intensely disapproves, for reasons I personally can’t argue with.
Rachel kept me informed as to what was going on. The camp staff knew from the kids’ cell phones that Coney and Wendell had switched places, but before the parents could be notified the rabid bear attack occurred. That of course took priority. The lockdown enabled the staff to sweep the area for any other creatures carrying rabies. That took all day and most of the night before the all clear was given. During that time Coney (with her rather amateurish haircut) was given a private tent as a precaution. Wendell, meanwhile, was kept under tight observation in the girls’ cabin. The next morning Rachel was given the assignment of telling Coney the jig was up. Coney took her punishment with acceptance; I doubt she’ll pull that stunt again. And she still has to face the wrath of Mom. Meanwhile, more trouble appeared on the other side of the lake when Francis escaped the oversight of Wendell and Harcourt. In short order he used the flag pole rope to scale the wall (which was smaller for the predators). Wendell and Harcourt took off after him, so now three children were beyond the camp’s supervision, without their cell phones that ordinarily enabled them to be located. All the counsellors were notified, including Rachel who had the idea of using Coney to track her cousins and best male friend. While that was going on, Wendell and Harcourt had to fight through the rope traps set by Francis. A wild feline wasn’t so lucky, ending up drenched and embarrassed as he was eventually washed up at the lake shore and freed by the counsellors. Knowing felines, he probably wished he’d drowned.
Why was Coney kicked out of camp? She didn't mean any harm and most of the staff in both camps seemed amused by her little stunt.
…And she saved the lives of numerous campers by incapacitating the bear. However, this isn’t the first time she’s violated camp rules by sneaking over, and the consequences of doing so are clearly stated in the guidelines.
The switch between Coney and Wendell was only supposed to last an afternoon. That all changed when a huge rabid bear attacked the Herbivore Camp. In the throes of the disease he somehow got through the considerable defenses circling the camp. He would’ve done horrific damage but fortunately, Coney was the first individual he encountered. She also demonstrated quick thinking by using her sharp claws to incapacitate the bear, as claws are a weapon shared by both wolves and rabbits. She was able to save the camp and still maintain the fiction that she was Wendell. With his Achilles tendons severed, the bear was totally immobile. He was restrained and taken to the nearest hospital where hopefully he’ll be treated. Coney, of course, will need to be examined as a precaution, but she’s up to date on her vaccinations so I’m confident she’s okay. Meanwhile, both camps went into lockdown as the areas around them were checked for other rabid creatures. That meant Wendell was forced to spend the night in the cabin for carnivorous young ladies. With a little help from Lin he was able to pull it off. The next morning found Coney still confined to her tent, and Wendell still in Lin’s cabin. At breakfast Harcourt informed Wendell that they were responsible for mentoring little Francis, the human. Wendell is familiar with Francis’s lack of defenses, but that doesn’t excuse dismissing him out of hand. Speaking from experience, it’s never a good idea to underestimate a human.
Coney seems to have inherited Rudy’s penchant for ill-considered, impulsive strategies that tend to blow up in the face of those involved. Let’s just hope she also got the unlimited supply of luck that Rudy frequently is forced to draw upon.
The camps train young predators and prey not only to succeed in satisfying their respective diets but in learning to join a society in which both groups interact. To that end there are several heavy monitored gatherings in which the campers mingle.
Apparently no one noticed Coney and Wendell sneaking off behind some bushes and re-emerging five minutes later. They had traded shirts, RFID lanyards and of course the wig. One spray of vermin scent (popular among young carnivores) and the switch was complete.
Lin and Wendell immediately discovered that texting can be an easier form of communication than talking face to face, and then each group returned to the respective camps. Coney, being half-rabbit, had the easiest time blending in.
Moments after Lin and Wendell were ensconced in the Predator Camp’s girl’s cabin, the alarm was sounded for both camps to go into lockdown. Next week, more complications…
Life at the camps had been going along smoothly… Too smoothly. While Wendell was deep into his usual grumbling mode at Camp Chewalottacud, Coney, Lin and Harcourt were successfully staying out of trouble. They were following the camp guidelines and were even being positive role models for little Francis. If the camp counselors weren’t suspicious by this point, they should all be given demerits. While all this was going on, Wendell and Lin were texting back and forth. They seem to have more in common than you’d think between a tiger and a rabbit, but considering my family I’m not surprised. Both children are extremely ambitious, but hide vulnerabilities beneath aggressive exteriors. Managing expectations, from both inward and outward sources, can be stressful and draining. By texting, they’ve found they’re not alone. (Let’s just hope Lin’s mother doesn’t find out.) That’s when Coney stepped in, with the blond wig that Lin wore last Halloween when the two girls dressed as each other. There’s an intercamp postal system, and Coney had it delivered to Wendell. Of course, making the actual switch will be tricky.
The buses carrying the campers arrived at their separate destinations after a ninety-minute journey. Even rabbits like Wendell who live in the underground warren travelled overland, although there are rumors that the rabbits have tunnel entrances everywhere.
Having grown up in the warren myself I can assert that that’s not true. Also, unless there’s been new construction since Dad and I left, there is no tunnel access near the camps. If you need any further proof consider this: Wendell is stuck there. If there were any way of leaving the herbivore camp he’d have found it.
Meanwhile, Coney, Lin, Harcourt and little Francis are considerably more enthusiastic about the activities planned for the predator children. Coney and Lin are in the girl’s cabin, Harcourt is with the boys, and Francis is in the special three-year-old bunkhouse.
In this setting Francis is demonstrating some unique skills. I’ve watched his development closely, and I’m realizing that, all appearances to the contrary, he’s not as helpless and defenseless as one might think.
Lastly, Lin is constantly texting Wendell. It’s perhaps a sign of how bored he is that he replies. Or, maybe it’s a sign of something else.
My, all this and I haven’t even talked about my sister! Well, I’m sure Coney has something planned…
It’s July, and at the Dewclaw household that means one thing: Coney goes off to Predator Camp. She never goes alone, and this year she’ll be accompanied by her friends Lin and Harcourt. As an added twist, for the first time Danielle is sending three-year-old Francis along. The camp has a special system for little predators, giving them mentors in the age group just ahead of them. All are overseen by the counselors, of course. Francis’s mentor is Harcourt, and Coney will provide an extra set of eyes. As the world’s only carnivorous bunny she’s a celebrity, but she still probably doesn’t realize it. Dad and Kell do their best to insulate her from that, but in a setting like camp she can’t help but notice that other campers defer to her. Meanwhile, poor Wendell Luckyfoot is at Herbivore Camp which he hates with a passion. He complains bitterly and unceasingly, but yet he goes. One would think it might be that he actually likes being across the lake from a certain little tiger girl. Lin keeps texting him, and so far he hasn’t blocked her. Subplots aplenty!
The weight loss competition between Frank Mangle and Kell came to an end this week with a surprising outcome. FYI, since the object of the contest was to incentivize healthy behavior, the winner wasn’t determined by the number of pounds lost but by their overall body mass index.
It seemed that Kell had squeaked out a victory on the morning of the weigh in, but Frank resorted to desperate measures by cutting off his precious mane. That put him ahead, but Kell would have won if she had followed suit. She chose not to, and Desdemona declared Frank the winner.
Neither of the two ever said what the winner received. I suspect….nothing. Under R.L. they were competitive so long that it’s become second nature.
They don’t need a reason.
As I continue to wander the practically deserted campus of Beige University during summer semester, doing my best to administer to the emotional needs of plant life, I sometimes think this is all an elaborate prank that Tree is pulling on me. After all, I only have her word that she’s doing actual translations. Also, she’s still new to our ethical standards of behavior (although she’s come a long way in that regard). And yet… I have noticed that when I circle back to places I’ve visited after a week or so, the flora that I’ve “spoken to” tend to demonstrate a remarkable change in growth and overall health. As a researcher, I’ve begun taking specific measurements to see if this is more than anecdotal. Tree is disappointed, though, as I said I’ll need a control group of plants that I never speak to. She wants me to talk to everyone. Back home, Rachel and Joan have returned from their Honeymoon and have moved into their tree. The beaver crew were true to their word; completed on time and in great shape. Tree was relieved when I told her. Finally, the family is preparing to pack Coney off to Predator Camp again. Maybe some year things will go smoothly there. Nah…
With Rachel and Joan on their honeymoon I was finally able to sit back and take stock of what recent events have meant for me on a personal level. While I still I question the ultimate worth of my online ordination, it has crystallized the part of my personality that has always been prominent; the desire to help others. It was a few months ago that Tree first told me that she’d always seen me as a spiritual advisor, and that I could do the same for other plants through her translations. I let that slide as other life events took precedence, but now with the ceremony over I came back to it. How exactly would Tree translate another plant’s speech…whatever form that speech may take? Tree said it all happens through their root systems (as I’d speculated, although airborne pheromones were another possibility). Tree’s immediate root system is still limited after being transplanted from Domain, and it isn’t as extensive as some her age, but as long as she reaches the maple across the street she’s connected to everybody. (Yes, even the flowers she detests.) She alone has the intelligence to communicate with fauna like me, and since she’s wired into the net she can speak to me via my phone as I go from plant to plant. I don’t know what form my speech becomes when Tree translates my responses back to them, but so far the foliage around the neighborhood is doing well. And what concerns do the plants have? Mostly requests for watering, and fair bit about canine urinary habits.
The weather was beautiful on the day of Rachel and Joan’s nuptials. Like anyone who chooses an outdoor wedding venue they were taking a huge risk, but their luck held. The fallback option in case of rain was the Caliban Academy gym, which is barely adequate for school dances. There was a tent set up, and two hours before the ceremony the wedding party gathered for the photographer to get shots of everyone. Of course, the two brides had their own picture-taking devices as well. As a geek I always applaud triple redundancy. Three local shelties were hired as ushers, and when the guests began arriving the found themselves herded to their assigned seats. Dad, Kell, Rudy and Coney were there; mainly due to my role, probably. At the designated hour the musicians began playing the William Tell Overture, and the bridesmaids paraded down the aisle. (Fiona was resplendent.) then the two brides each made their way to the altar. That was my cue. They’d written their own vows, and I read the texts that they’d assigned for me. It was like being in a play, only this was a serious transition for two friends that are very close to me. At the end of the ceremony they had moved on to a brand new stage of life’s journey. It was a transition for me as well. More on that next week.
Joan and Rachel’s wedding is days away, and Fenton and I drove up to Domain as the festivities got underway. As the person officiating I don’t have the same roles as a bridesmaids and rest of the wedding party, but they still want me to participate nonetheless. Once again we stayed with Fenton’s parents and Dip the sheep. (He’s still involved with the poodle who has my old room at my parents’ house) As one of the bridesmaids, Fiona is quite busy; that leaves Rudy to mainly hang around with Bruno playing video games. Dad is juggling the net neutrality issue at Hare Link. He’s doing his best to make sure all of our clients have equal access and equal bandwidth, but once the data is beyond the HareLink servers there’s nothing he can do. Rudy and Gran have each planted their gardens on plots of land that are the same size. Now it’s a matter of seeing what comes up, and keeping the vegetable thieves away. The real excitement won’t come until harvest time. Finally, Coney and her friends will be heading back to camp in a few weeks. I wonder if they’ve done anything to improve the security measures. Gotta run; a happy couple need to say some vows.
Was Rudys' reaction before or after a coughing fit? And I love the new outfit but I have to wonder if you think Joan is trying to be TOO controlling?
That’s just how Joan is. She cares deeply about her friends, but she doesn’t realize that she sometimes steps over the line. In this case, she isn’t wrong in that someone in Lindesfarne’s professional position shouldn’t dress like a high school student.
Okay, I’ll admit that clothing is low on my list of priorities. That’s partly due to the hedgehog (and porcupine) tradition of wearing attire that just covers our fronts; our quills take care of our backs. Yes, it’s drafty. Think of hospital gowns and you start to see why we don’t see *anything* as flattering. I didn’t realize just how much I’d been ignoring my appearance until Joan brought it up with her usual…undiluted…tact. She presented me with a range of outfits not just for her wedding but for all the time. A full makeover in other words. The reasoning was that I’m 22, married, a grad student and still dressing as if I was still in high school. I have a logical mind and I couldn’t argue against having a more professional wardrobe. Instead of choosing one of Joan’s designs I went online. I used the process of elimination, bringing up thousands of possibilities and discarding the ones that didn’t fit my self-image. Methodical, but it led me to a style I’m comfortable with. Fenton seemed to approve as well. His thoughts turned in a procreative direction. Yes, we used protection.
It’s the time of year when Rudy begins planting vegetables; an endeavor that gains him spending money and most importantly, attention and notoriety.
Usually it’s Dad who provides the necessary competitive conflict that drives him, but with Rudy’s space now taking up the entire yard there was no room for him to plant anything. So, Gran stepped in to provide a rival; with a slight dose of Betrayal to fire him up further.
They had been partners last year, and had bonded in their own way. Now, we’ll see what grows from this situation.
I wonder if the resulting vegetation will require counseling.
The Great Weight Loss Challenge goes on, providing health benefits to both Kell and to Frank Mangle, and a nice diversion for the employees of Dewclaw’s Fine Meats. The company is still in a fragile position, battling for market share in a business with razor-thin profit margins, so any moral boost is a good thing. Fenton and I drove back to Beige after Mother’s Day to find the campus pretty much emptied out after Finals were over. As a classic college town, Beige gets very quiet during the summer months for those of us who live here year round. In our case, Fenton maintains the Hare-Link and I focus on my grad studies research in peace and quiet. The next big event will, of course, be the wedding that I’m officiating in a few weeks. I know the words that I’ll be saying (written by the brides), but I see this as more than as if they were lines in a play.
With the infusion of sap donated by his mother, the tree (Come to think of it, it needs a name.) recovered its strength to point where it was able to fight off the main colony of bark beetles without our further assistance. Rachel and Joan were overjoyed, but the outcome depended on the verdict of the contractors.
They arrived the next day, and Fenton and I stayed overnight to hear. The beavers expected to find the same weakened, infested conifer they’d previously examined, and were amazed by its recovery. They revised their assessment, and the bank approved the loan. As I write this, construction has begun.
As long as I was in Domain I presented Kell with a Mother’s Day basket of meat products. That went with the carrot bandolier Coney made from construction paper. Rudy, meanwhile, got her roadkill imprinted with her favorite tire tread.
After the drama over Easter weekend things settled down back home, except when Rudy was using the catapult for gardening purposes. Then I received a visit from Rachel and Joan who drove down to Beige to go over wedding details. (Just a month away!) They were excited about moving into our old neighborhood, down the street from my family at the bottom of the hill near the river. As it turned out, the conifer they were looking to buy and convert into a home happened to be the offspring of our Tree. (It seems that Tree’s ability to communicate wasn’t passed down.) Their enthusiasm was soon crushed when the inspector discovered an infestation of bark beetles, which is frequently a death sentence. The sale was cancelled, and Tree was horrified. Fenton and I just looked at each other and thought “Lunch.” I packed supplies that I keep to maintain Tree’s health, and the four of us piled into the car for the two-hour drive. When we arrived Fenton and I saw that while bark beetles were indeed attacking the tree, it wasn’t an entire colony. It was an expeditionary force, which was bad enough. After all, beetles mainly attack trees that are already in a weakened state, so we also have to address the underlying cause of that. Fenton and I don’t have much time. We need to eliminate the existing bugs and restore the tree to health before the main colony arrives.
The assassins had brought two catapults for the job of eliminating Ms. Chien. While made of traditional wood materials like the ones from Medieval times, these had high-tech targeting mechanisms keyed to her cell phone signal. They sent a volley of six rocks (three on each catapult) just moments after Wendell got everyone into the rabbit warren entrance. The four could’ve hidden down there until morning, but leave it to Rudy to decide to end the threat once and for all. After Fiona revealed that she could convincingly disguise herself as Ms. Chien the plan was hatched, beginning with the realization on Ms. Chien’s part that her phone was the bait. Rudy and Fiona acted as decoys while Wendell got permission to use the rabbit warren to lead Ms. Chien back to the Dewclaw house. Permission was granted; almost suspiciously quickly, too. He then hid the rest of the eggs before dawn. You’ve heard the rest from the news reports. The assassins were captured by the rabbits after falling into their tunnels, and were turned over to the local police. (Much worse has happened to intruders down there.) They confessed everything, and finally French authorities had the evidence they’d long sought to move against Ms. Chien’s former employers. They’re effectively out of business. However, they’re still at large. We’ll have to see how much stock they place in acts of revenge.
Leaving the office Friday evening, Kell and Caniche had thought that Caniche’s former employers had given up trying to silence her. Twelve paces away from the car, that assumption was proven wrong in the form a boulder painted like an Easter egg. It missed by inches. Caniche immediately abandoned her strategy of keeping quiet and hoping they’d forget about her, resolving to go to the international authorities first thing on Monday. But first she’d have to survive the weekend. Easter weekend. Me, I would’ve kept her in the house never more than six feet away from Coney. But no; Caniche felt that being outdoors, away from buildings, where none of the trees could support a boulder was protection enough. Fiona did the requisite Easter bunny makeup, complete with pheromones which may or may not throw the assassins off the track. It was an effective disguise, though, and at sunset Rudy, Fiona, Caniche and apprentice Wendell headed out for the ten-hour race to hide eggs around the county. Being nocturnal I’ve been staying up waiting for developments. It seems to be going well so far… Wait. I’m getting slight but noticeable seismograph readings from the area right around where Rudy is now. It’s as if the ground is being shaken by…boulders.
Those of you who follow Ms. Aura’s Twitter feed from the human world know that she’s got a problem with a marmot. As a result she asked me to do some detective work, and what I uncovered demonstrated that he’d been on a very interesting journey, similar to one Fenton and I once took. Basically, we got a crash course in the existence of dimensional portals that cross both time and planes of existence. Our tale was recounted in the book "Oh the Humanity," in which we were transformed into humans after a number of stops on the way. The marmot encountered a similar predicament. In his case he went through a portal by accident, and instead returning straight home as he’d been directed, simple greed led him to make a more circuitous route that nearly proved his undoing.
As Rachel and Joan’s wedding preparations proceed, I’m thinking more and more deeply about my role. They’ve given me the lines I’ll be saying, which are actually quite beautiful, but I’d like to be more than a mouthpiece. They’ve entrusted me to officiate the ceremony so I feel responsible that it all goes well. Rudy, as always, says I’m over-thinking this. For once, Fenton agrees with him. Still, I’m feeling a need to be helpful, which is the same impulse that feeds my scientific research. I’ve never felt a separation between my analytical inquiries and my basic desire to connect with others on an emotional level. They’re all one and the same. (Although, from what I see at the lab, I know that’s not a universal sentiment.) I guess that being railroaded into getting ordained has given me permission to indulge that side of me that heretofore only had a limited outlet. It was in this mood that Tree began telling me that I’ve been her spiritual advisor all along. I suppose so, once she explained the influence I’ve had on her. I get that. But then, she said that other trees, ones that can’t speak like she can, could still benefit from knowing me. I asked how this was possible, and Tree said she could translate for me. So how I’m thinking, trees talk to each other??? I knew she had a connection to the maple across the street through their root systems, but maybe it’s more like a network. And I’d be the router.