Etiquette & superstition: what to do with snow

Snowballed by Kevin Conor Keller on Flickr

Earlier in the day I could see snow from my living room window, on some mountains that are thirty miles away and some others about fifty miles away. The storm clouds are rolling in now so I can’t see the mountains anymore. Looks to be a dramatic night up there.

ETIQUETTE: When you are needing to remove snow from your driveway and sidewalk, don’t shovel or blow the snow into the street or onto a neighbor’s property. If you are able-bodied and know of some neighbors who are not as physically able, do a good turn and remove their snow for them. If your good turn starts becoming burdensome to you, figure out a way to set some boundaries. Maybe you can set up a rotating schedule with some of your neighbors. If you find yourself frequently bailing out some neighbors who have previously noted libertarian opinions, perhaps now is the time to show them how great socialism can work.

SUPERSTITION: Lots of nuts on the ground, raccoons with fat tails, and hornets’ nests high in the trees are all signs of a snowy winter. Chimney smoke that falls toward the ground instead of toward the sky portends snow within the month. If you’re not seeing any of these signs and you’re eager for snow, burn some old skis to summon Ullr, the Norse god of snow.

If Ullr heard your plea and blessed you with some snow, congratulations! Go run around in it if you want to become immune to frostbite, sore throats and chilblains. Eat some if you want to get rid of warts or a toothache (but fair warning: you might develop a goiter). Get married in it if you want to have lots of children.

Okie dokie, Okefenokee

On Saturday I made a cryptic comment about Walt Kelly’s comic strip Pogo because I was not sure if we had come to the conclusion of certain wildlife hijinks happening in our driveway and garage or not. I believe the situation has now normalized and we won’t get any more major developments, so I think it’s time to share what happened.

Benny has been working late in the garage on various art projects the past few weeks. He leaves the garage door open, and lately he was getting visitors ’round about 3 a.m or so. Sometimes it was a rat, sometimes a raccoon, but lately it was a very nervous opossum who didn’t seem to notice Benny until very late in the game. Lots of jumping and being startled on the part of this little guy.

One night last week, however, there was a different guest. A skunk. Thankfully the skunk wasn’t as nervous as the opossum, and thankfully Benny wasn’t either. Otherwise there could have been a little bit of trouble. Benny kept to himself, the skunk kept to herself, and all was well.

The next night, the skunk came much earlier and noticed a bowl of old pretzels and bread crusts that Benny had left out for whomever. Benny came inside to videotape the skunk’s investigations from a better vantage point, and that’s when this happened (sorry for the shaky camerawork, but he was laughing pretty hard… the shakiness winds up creating an excellent reveal around 0:29):

Oh my. Against all odds, the opossum and the skunk wound up sharing the bread crusts and it was very charming. This, of course, inspired Benny to set out two slightly more elaborate plates the next night, with an elegant atmosphere to go along with it:

Key lime pie, mini cupcakes, bologna, apple cores, and grapes. The telephone, as I believe he described it, was an attempt to get these two characters to communicate better. We waited. A long time. Nothing. I went to bed and asked him to alert me if anything happened. He eventually went to bed as well.

I woke up in the morning and went out to the driveway.

No dice. At first I was excited because I thought someone had eaten some of the apple, but I remembered that apple cores had been served, not apples. What a disappointment. I had been looking forward to watching this romance bloom. This was like the Fern Dell Ghost all those many years ago, who got spooked and was never seen again once I left some pants for him that weren’t ripped in the butt.

The next night, nobody showed up either. The night after that, the skunk showed up, snuffled around the garage for a bit, and then about two minutes later, the heretofore unseen opossum came out of the garage. So clearly these two are still hanging out, but I guess they want to keep things casual. Oh, also a raccoon showed up at some point that same night. I’m good with all of this, but I’m not sure what we’re going to do if a hat-wearing alligator chomping on a seegar shows up. Set another plate, maybe?

Don’t badger the umpire

It was Opening Day this week, so I felt obligated to rustle up a baseball cartoon. The best one I found was Japanese, and it’s quite good, but it did send me down a … um… rabbit hole in trying to figure out what one of the teams was. The video description said they were raccoons, but the creatures didn’t have striped tails which is pretty important for raccoons. Especially cartoon ones.

I then found something called a raccoon dog, which seemed promising because while there are no raccoons in Japan there are raccoon dogs. But they didn’t look that much like the team members in the cartoon either, and looking at raccoon dogs also led me to a photo of a scary taxidermied monster wearing flip-flops in a Buddhist temple. And that led me to someone asking if raccoon dogs really existed, someone else with a lost raccoon dog in England, pictures from Super Mario 3 of Mario in a Tanooki suit, a Mental Floss article that says that tanukis have giant scrotums and that the scrotums are often depicted as being bags of money, and yeah, that’s when I put the brakes on. I have stuff to do today. Besides, the raccoon dog coloring is still wrong compared to these baseball characters.

I don’t know. The YouTube comments (yes, I read YouTube comments for you; there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you) say that these guys are badgers, because the banners in the bleachers say “TANUKI,” but tanukis are raccoon dogs, and these are clearly not badgers either way, and now I’m thinking about the moneybags again. I just wanted to find a nice baseball cartoon and here I am.

Never you mind that. Enjoy the cartoon and play with the sound up even if you don’t understand Japanese. The narrator is quite charming doing her umpire calls.


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