So it was a typical busy dinner hour in the Cardigan home. I called DH as the homemade pizzas came out of the oven, confirmed that he would, in fact, be working late and running an errand before coming home, and signaled to the kids that it was okay to set up TV trays in the den and finish watching an old movie, which may not be the absolute best version of the Cinderella story but which definitely has the all time greatest fairy godmother.
(As a side note: I never do that. The T.V. tray thing. No, really. Honest. Or at least not since we had the den carpet replaced a couple of years ago because I'd been doing the T.V. tray thing entirely too often back when the girls were little enough to think of food spillage as a form of entertainment. But seriously, it's been years, so the girls were really excited that they got to have pizza in front of the last 30 minutes of their movie.)
Anyway, I was about to hang up with DH when DD#3 came and told me that the handle of the toilet in the master bath was stuck facing upward, and could I please come and fix it?
"I'd better stay on the line," DH said wisely. Boy, does he know me. "Just in case you need me to stop at the Giant Big Box O'Hardware store on the way home to pick up a new handle," he added diplomatically.
I finished cutting the hot pizzas and went into the master bathroom (thank goodness for cordless phones). "It seems to be working fine," I reported, removing the toilet tank lid and checking inside. "Oh, I see. I think you just need to tighten it."
As I replaced the lid I thought I saw something at least quarter-sized and brown dart under the wire rack I use to store extra toilet paper in our small rectangular space-challenged bathroom.
"A spider?" DH asked when I reported it.
"Gosh, I hope not," I answered a little fearfully, as I very gingerly moved everything off of the rack. But I didn't see anything. "Maybe it was my imagination," I said hopefully.
But then I moved the rack itself.
And saw one of these.
"Oh, no!" I squeaked into the phone. "It's a gecko! And you're not home! What am I going to do?"
"Call the children," my DH answered calmly. Boy, does he know them, especially DD#1, who was carrying large grasshoppers proudly around the backyard by the time she was four. She thinks all animals are cute, from microscopic insects to large frightening-looking dogs staring in menacing insolence from the backs of pickup trucks. I knew she'd be able to catch the surprisingly fast little lizard, and take it tenderly out into the yard.
"Girls," I called, "there's a tiny gecko in the bathroom. Can you come and catch it for me?"
In an instant they were all clustered in the bathroom, from DD#1 who was fearlessly assessing the situation and talking in a soothing voice to the gecko ("He's scared," she explained to her quaking mass of a mother) to DD#2 who was examining him and announcing in triumph that it was a gecko, and not a mouse, she had seen in the cereal cabinet last winter, to DD#3 who takes a bit more after her poor cowardly mother and who went back and forth in fearful fascination.
It took several minutes, an old plastic container, and some pieces of computer paper, but finally DD#1 triumphed. "Somebody open the back door!" she called, balancing one of the pieces of paper over the plastic container to keep the little visitor from a premature egress. DD#2 moved back to let her pass, and DD#3 sped on ahead of her--but not to open the door; her courage failed her and she jumped up on the couch with all the elan of a sixties sitcom housewife confronted with the sudden appearance of a rodent. In the end it was Mom who opened the door and stood by while DD#1 gently deposited the tiny gecko onto our back porch, which considering the number of ants we've had out there lately probably looked like an all-you-can-eat buffet to the small creature.
Dinner progressed as planned, but I was left marveling at the whole thing.
Sometimes, I think, we're rather like that gecko. Complacently minding our own business, we find ourselves startled into activity by a sudden change in circumstances; rather than accept the guidance from above we try to flee from it; finally, we are caught up in events beyond our control and constrained in a manner we find wholly disconcerting; and just when we're feeling truly trapped, we find ourselves at liberty again, and enjoying more freedom and a greater harmony with our natural surroundings then we ever would have dreamed possible.