Friday, February 9, 2007

The sounds of silence

Another golden oldie post:

I was talking with a class full of students today when we got off on a tangent about sounds and smells. (As I type this I have one of my extreme cases of hiccups).

I feel the smell of autumn coming on. The north winds are supposed to give an early blast to Texas and drop the temperature and the humidity. It's the feel that makes me melancholy for the days when I rode my banana-seated bike to elementary school. When I was running a fever and enjoyed staying out in the cold air by the monkey bars to cool my sweaty brow.

The sound of my life? As an old college friend, Darden Smith, sings, "It's the sounds of a midnight train." Most of my life I've lived one block away from train tracks. Now is no different, only the train whine seems even louder and more frequently.

This weekend I found a baby squirrel outside by a tree. Actually my dog found it and was playing with it. The little guy was no more than a week old, plump and pink, maybe the size of a fat pinkie finger.

I got on the Web and researched what to do. First I hung a pillowcase in the tree in hopes the mother would spot it and rescue him. Then I scanned the branches looking for a nest. Nothing.

Before they closed, I went to the local vet and got some powdered kitten milk and a dropper to feed the squirrel baby. But I left the critter out there until almost dark, knowing full well his mother was his best hope. Nothing.

I held him in my hand and he squealed as I gave him the bottle. Quickly his body was turning less pink and developing a few dark patches. I put him under a heat lamp and tried to keep him as warm as possible.

Back to the Web and more info: don't feed the milk until you hydrate him! He's in shock and dry. Get him Pedialyte and force some liquid in. A quick trip to the store and I had what was needed.

I gave him the liquid three or four more times before going to bed. It didn't look good. He was getting darker and thinner looking. By morning he was cold and gone.

It reminded me of the Tom Petty lyric: "Everything changed, then changed again. It's hard to find a friend."

Nothing lasts. The university I attended changed its name from Southwest Texas State to Texas State. That generic monicker is supposed to add some prestige. The majority of students and alumni appear to oppose the change, but it was rammed down their throats.

The dorm I lived in there has been flattened to make a parking lot. The frat house I lived in burned down years ago. SWT now lives only in my head.

That's the way of life, I guess. We make up our own stories and cling to them. They're comfortable. We recognize their sights, their sounds. And when they're gone, all that's left is silence.

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