"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Return

This post comes in three parts. The first is nostalgic. The second is exciting. The third features the rose.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The filly won the Belmont Stakes. First time since 1905. Rags to Riches went home with the carnations.

I'm overjoyed, of course. But the joy is shaded with great sadness . . . because last night I watched that tv movie about Ruffian.

Not that I needed a reminder. Inevitably I recall Ruffian whenever I watch a filly run . . . especially at Belmont Park. Ruffian raced through my mind during last year's Preakness, when Barbaro stumbled. I mourned her again when, after "Bobbie's" brave and lengthy battle to recover--the one she simply couldn't begin, much less win--he had to be put down.

I grew up with horses, had one of my own. I've always followed horseracing. I was young but I was at the television for Ruffian's final race, her near-win against the colt Foolish Pleasure. What I didn't realise, and the movie informed me, was that theirs was the very last match race--two horses in a head-to-head contest--in America.

Watching the movie's promos throughout the Belmont Stakes broadcast, I didn't feel inclined to watch the Ruffian movie. "It would be like sitting through Old Yeller again," I told the Chap as the tears gathered. "Whenever I needed to cry onstage," I added later, referring to my theatrical years, "I always thought of Ruffian."

I adored her. I didn't want to re-live that horrible day, that tragic outcome.

But I did it anyway. At the start of the movie, I reached for a tissue. "Take the whole box," the Chap advised. "You're going to need it." In fact, I only cried at the beginning, knowing how the story ended. And at the end, confronted with a re-creation of never-seen but vividly imagined scenes that haunted my youth.

Today, I keep reminding myself: the filly won. And Rags to Riches did it within a few hundred feet from Ruffian's burial place.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

More good news. I had an up-close and personal encounter with Gilbert, the chipmunk I rehabbed last September.

Longtime readers will recall that I found him as a baby, trapped in the mesh fence that keeps the deer out of my main rose garden. The mesh had wound round his paw, which was mangled in his effort to escape. He was scratched. I cut him free with scissors. And set up a temporary home for him. You can read all about it here.

This morning after I dragged my sick carcass about the grounds, camera in hand, I sat down on the deck steps to watch the chipmunks feeding. The usual suspects showed up. So did some youngsters--the property is erupting with shiny new chipmunks.

One customer looked strikingly familiar.

I'd know that skimpy lower jaw and thrusting proboscis anywhere. They belong to my own little Gilbert, aka Gilbert Grape, the grape-eating chipmunk I released to the wild all those months ago.

Here's how he looked back when he was a wee thing, living on my kitchen counter. Identical profile.

I've seen dozens of chipmunks in my day, and none of them ever looked like this one. Yes, my boy has the overbite from hell. But he looks beautiful to me!

I've got some green grapes in the fridge. What do you bet he still likes them?

Also returning regularly, our nesting turtles. This one kept moving back and forth across one of the driveways, seeking the perfect spot to deposit her eggs.

I always know when a turtle has arrived. The way the dogs--especially Jewel--bark and carry on, you'd think it was a coyote.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Perennial of the Day:

Fringed Bleeding Heart.

Rose of the Day:

Thérèse Bugnet, rugosa hybrid.

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