It’s early in the morning. I haven’t brought main power online yet, and the work patrol has yet to start. The coffee activator is only just manufacturing the reactor propellant that will kick-start my weary bones. Oh, crud! Trash day! That sound of machinery on the slow-monster march is the sanitation engineers tractor-beaming the week’s rubbish and conspicuous consumption for donation to the landfills for our future descendants to raid. I manage to do an emergency beam-out, flip flops in place of my shoes of doom, so maneuvers are at half impulse power. With seconds to spare, trash pick-up accomplished. I gather my handful of experience points and get back to business.

I’m closing the front door, when I see a fox casually walk out of the greenery across the street and head right for the place everyone puts their garbage. He sniffs the spot where the garbage was a minute ago, and I realize this scavenger does this as a regular circuit. The fox is just running late today, like me. The fox realizes someone is watching and looks up, spotting me. That fox kicks in the thrusters and walks on to the next waypoint, disappearing into the greenery ahead.

Now, I admit, I’m not exactly living in a concrete jungle here. The neighborhood is edged with trees and growth, so it’s perfectly feasible that animals can migrate from safe zone to safe zone, as long as they can navigate the occasional street crossing and don’t mind moving through the human neutral zone. But still, I’m a little surprised to see there’s a local fox. What else is moving about? Your pets roam at their own risk, sheesh!

So I’m on the couch, reading, with an afternoon view of my back porch. K and I have a number of cacti, moonflowers, cardinal creepers, wild mint, mosses, and ferns growing on the porch. More civilization training, you understand. All of a sudden, I see a hummingbird make a refueling run at what must be like a fully stocked, free gas station of flowers. I barely have time to let K know (she had never seen one before), when another hummingbird joins in the pit stop. Now that’s a first for me now, I’ve never seen more than one hummingbird, so it’s double bonus!

The two hummingbirds helicopter around from flower to flower until they’ve gone through each blossom, and then they head over to the neighbor’s yard. There are only some mundane houseplants without flowers, and I can almost hear them say “Rip-off!” They hit the warp drive and zoom out of sight. I tabulate up some experience points for keeping the hummingbird starbase open with my relentless watering and fertilizer efforts. Yeah, it’s all good.

Nighttime. I’m in the kitchen preparing a snack when I notice that it smells like skunk. Frankie freaks out and rushes up to the window. She meows the red alert and looks down at the bushes under our kitchen window. I stare in confusion for a moment, and then it dawns on me. Well, it must be skunk! I open the front door and whoosh! There’s some serious skunk smell coming from the bushes, and I hear a weird chirping noise. Whoa! Evasive maneuvers babykins! Door slams shut, and Frankie runs around like it’s a full-fledged invasion!

K asks me what that smell is and when I tell her she has to see for herself. Yo ho ho and a bottle of scum! Keep in mind the smell is so strong, you can smell it through a closed window! Must be a crack in the wall or something, phew! K thinks it’s hilarious. Luckily, the smell gradually fades and by morning only a lingering pee-yew smell remains. But every now and then I catch a whiff, so I know that culprit is in the neighborhood. I suppose the little rascal was just welcoming us to the neighborhood!

So I look up my tried and true copy of Medicine Cards, and according to this interpretation of Native American traditions, fox stands for camouflage (learn to observe from hiding), hummingbird stands for joy (embrace beauty and happiness), and skunk stands for reputation (project self-respect). Good lessons to keep in mind in this day and age!

It also occurs to me that the animals are all around us as we speak. The anipals and their daily rounds intersect with ours all the time, and we may not know it! Listen to what the anipals may be telling you. You can never have too many friends, either of the two-legged, four-legged, eight-legged, or winged variety. In the so-called “rational” territories, they need contact with us to stay whole, and we need their guidance to skirt the jackbots. They don’t need domestication (we have pets, special elite corps of human-contact volunteers for that), they need taming, which as you all know, means “to establish ties with”.