Saturday, December 20, 2008

Zeke's First Christmas, Part One

Fellowship Hall

Food Tables

Back wall depicts church history. The center garland on the table was made from cuttings donated by church members.

I just wanted to share some pictures of the church project that I was working on over the past few weeks which kept me so busy I had no time to blog. I would get up around 5:30 am to work on pictures. Then around 8:00 am when my husband left for work, I would shower, go work on pictures some more. Then go to town to buy any supplies that I had run out of, or take CDs to Staples. Last week I prepped ingredients ahead of time and then spent Thursday and Friday assembling the components. Saturday my team met at the church around 10 am and worked until after 5 pm decorating. Sunday I was at the school across the street baking off the chafing dishes. I started at 6 am. All of this for the 10 am brunch which lasted an hour. It was all worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

So, yesterday I told you that I was going to start posting a wonderful Christmas story.

Here is the first "chapter":

Zeke's First Christmas

Written by: Dr. Robert Darnell

Part One

You never expect a skunk under the Christmas tree. Skunks are creatures of the netherworld. They're nocturnal foragers who belong somewhere far away from hearth and home.

Even if you've never seen a skunk, you've smelt one. Smelling exposes a small space of actual brain tissue directly to the atmosphere via our sinuses. This may explain why the sense of smell is so closely linked with memory; since the stimulation goes directly into the brain matter. Ideally, skunks should only announce their presence by a swift whiff of their signature fragrance as we hurtle past them in our cars.

In all my memorable encounters with skunks (as a card-carrying redneck, I've had a few), the most remarkable took place in 1987, in my living room. He was a young, perhaps disobedient, skunk who had rejected the cozy hibernation of his nestlings to seek out a little winter adventure, or perhaps a chilled grub.

My wife, Constance, and I had been fiddling with the red metal Christmas tree holder to make sure it was properly braced to keep the Scotch pine from toppling if our toddler, Zeke, should happen to yank a branch. We barely noticed the clicking paws of our German Shorthaired Pointer on the tile as she trotted in through the propped open door behind us and dropped something. But soon, the smell reached us and we turned.

He stood reeling on the white tile of our dining room. He was not sleek and pretty like the idealized skunk portraits found in children's books. He was mussed. His hair was bristly and his bright white stripe was caked with dirt. The expression on the skunk's face resembled the dazed surprise I had seen on a football player regaining consciousness in the dazzling lights on the fifty-yard line.

Time slowed. Stink thickened thea ir and filled my eyes as if the odor was visible. The skunk had not sprayed in the house. Still, he and the Shorthair reeked from their earlier encounter.

The glittering Christmas decorations Constance had draped in our home seemed to wilt under the weight of the pungent air. Their sparkle dimmed with the oily aroma emanating from our pet and her reluctant companion.

My dog, Leo, was smiling. She had bravely knocked a skunk unconscious and carried it, with a soft mouth, into the room that had, until recently, smelled of apple cider and spice cake. She had dropped the varmint as close as possible to my left side, just as she had been trained. This is where a retriever is to "finish" coming to heel on the left side and giving up the game on command. Leop was energetically wagging her brown stump of a tail and looking away, as if modesty kept her from eyeing me too keenly since I hadn't said, "drop." It's hard to get too upset with a dog that is pleased with herself.

Part 2 tomorrow...

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