It is past midnight, quiet and peaceful. No airplane or helicopter lights in the night sky. Last night, however, in the midst of all this winter quiet, we heard a strange barking sound. I looked out the window and saw a fox pacing back and forth in front of our neighbor’s house. At first, because it was perfectly still, I didn’t see the cat hunched in the middle of the street, afraid to move. I quickly raised the window and started clapping and shouting to scare the fox, and my husband grabbed a flashlight and directed the beam into glowing fox eyes, and the critter gave up and ran away. The cat, too, disappeared into the shadows. I googled to see if foxes would actually eat cats and discovered that it’s unlikely unless the victim is a small kitten. Since the cat in question appeared rather plump beneath the streetlight, it was probably safe. Still, I’m convinced the fox had more on his mind than mere curiosity.
One of my mom’s favorite stories to tell when I was growing up was The Little Red Hen. Since we always had a hen house full of chickens, I had great familiarity with them and could easily visualize the little hen filling the sack with rocks as the fox slept. I felt the same tingly thrill anew each time she escaped, and to hear about her escaping again and again solidified my own self-confidence. In my mom’s lap I felt safe, and I felt reasonably sure that I would always know exactly how to deal with foxes. It’s not a bad way to start out in life…
Another childhood favorite was Little Red Riding Hood. I had a cape and bonnet similar to Little Red’s, except my outfit was green, and my mom decked me out in it one day to have my portrait made. I was frightened by the strange man with all the lights and the way he rushed back and forth, turning his head from side to side and coming over to adjust my chin this way or that. “Hold still,” he said, again and again. But it was impossible. I was hot and scared and on the verge of tears. My mom was in the room, so I should have felt safe, but I kept thinking about Little Red Riding Hood and how her grandmother had been no match for the wolf/stranger.
Later, when the photo session was over and I was back in my overalls and familiar surroundings, I listened to real stories about my own grandmother. She was a small woman, tiny enough to slip into my child’s rocking chair, but she was also a ball of energy with a fiery temper, a Scots-Irish daughter of the pioneers. When, in my mind’s eye, I slipped my tough little granny into Red Riding Hood’s story, she took down the Winchester and blew the wolf to Kingdom Come! I felt safe again. Not because Granny knew how to shoot a gun, for all of the old women in the hills had that expertise, but because she loved me. Strong ties and family love, handed down through the generations, provide strength and support throughout life of a kind that’s hard to come by anywhere else.
This month, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, my book club is reading about love, an old book by C.S. Lewis titled The Four Loves. Lewis considers affection, friendship, erotic love, and charity as they relate to love between parents and children, couples and friends, and the love of and for God. A quick, but not necessarily easy, read…lots to ponder.
If you’re tuning in to the Super Bowl tomorrow, don’t forget to sit tight for the halftime show. The American Dance/Drill Team will be performing with the Black Eyed Peas. Ordinarily, I have no connections with dance teams or rock bands, but, in this case, the dance/drill team is a sponsor of the Gift of English program in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and the Santa Julia orphanage. I have also been connected to this rewarding program for the past few years. Travelers to the mountains of Mexico can check out volunteer opportunities HERE.