Category: new things

In which the existence of beavers is doubted

art by falldowntree

Yesterday I brought my Burmese ESL student on a field trip to Fort Snelling State Park to learn about the niceties of hunting licenses, poison sumac and why we probably don’t want to eat snapping turtles. Our guide talked about all of these things while walking us through the park, pausing to point out things of interest.About half an hour into our walk, we happened upon a tree that had been gnawed down by a beaver. In rather complex and fast English, he explained the tree-felling/dam-building process. I turned to my students and attempted to “translate.”

Me: “One animal bites this tree and then makes a house with the tree.”

Skeptical Student: “A big animal, teacher? Elephant like tree.”

Me: “Oh no. This animal is a brother to rabbit, squirrel. Like this:” I make the universal sign for rodent, hands tucked under my chin and making clicking noises, exposing my front teeth

Student: “Ummm, no, teacher. A rabbit cannot eat a tree and make a house.”

Me: “It’s like a rabbit. It lives in the water. It takes the tree in the water and then makes a house.”

Student: “Ummm, teacher. No. A rabbit cannot swim.”

Me: “It is like a rabbit. It has a big tail (universal sign for beaver tail here) and it swims and then makes a house from the tree it bites.”

Student. “Sooooo, it is a fish rabbit that can bite a tree and make a house?” (totally incredulous)

Me: “Yes. Yes. It is a fish rabbit. It is a fish rabbit that bites trees.”

Student: “Oh yes. Okay. I know.”

He nods as if this now makes perfect sense and heads off to impart this knowledge to his classmates.

God help them if kangaroos ever come up.

Adventure: Republican Convention

So, I am something of a bleeding heart liberal. I work in Frogtown, weep over the plight of baby seals and have an MPR sticker in the window of my vintage Saab. It’s all very predictable and slightly embarrassing. Why, yes, I do work in social services! And, yes, I am a vegetarian! Why do you ask? Did my birkenstocks give me away?So it was with equal parts trepidation and glee that The Mister and I headed into the fray that was the Republican Convention, hosted by our very own St. Paul. I wore the cowboy hat in an effort to disguise my woefully obvious liberal-ocity. But I suspect it was more Michelle Branch than Michelle Bachman.

While we were there, Sam witnessed a “dirty hippie” handing out bumper stickers promoting his own run for the presidency. His tag line? “Weasel and Shark ’08!” Sam went over to chat the guy up and take a few photos and was joined by some portly, rather drunk convention enthusiasts. They cooed over his camera lenses, hassled the hippie and wanted to know “where’s the action, maaaan?”
Sam assured our drunk friends that, despite his beard and flip flops, he wasn’t actually aware of any exciting plans in the works. So we left the drinkers and the hippie to their own devices and took a seat outside the convention center while I made eyes at middle aged senators.
A few minutes later, I looked back and saw our drunks actually taking off their shirts. They dug around in their backpacks, pulled on some black t-shirts and baseball hats and headed into the crowd, oddly and instantly sober. And you will not believe what the t-shirts said:
Authorized Personel.
They were undercover cops, trying to flush out protesters and get wind of any trouble in the making.
I think it was my cowboy hat that made them suspicious.