I was introduced to Earl via a text message last Monday afternoon. All I could make out was grass and what appeared to be a curled-up reptile.
I finished gathering up my stuff and called Zac as I was walking out of the office.
The conversation that ensued was odd, even for us.
Me: “Did you just send me a picture of a snake?” Zac: “No.”
Me: “Is it dead?” Zac: “No.”
Me: “What is it?” Zac: “I don’t know, but it was so cute! I wanted to pick it up, but I thought it might be some kind of badger.”
Zac came upon Earl while mowing the back yard. He said he went to move a stick out of the way and there was Earl.
Of course, we just called him “the critter” at first.
Zac and Wyatt performed a critter check the next morning but found no trace of wildlife. Inspiration must have struck Zac while they were in the backyard because he announced several minutes after they came back in that our mysterious visitor’s name was Earl.
We had several discussions about which part of the animal kingdom Earl might belong to before Zac determined with help from Google that Earl was a baby beaver.
When I shared this news with my co-workers, one of them suggested that we should rename the beaver Justin.
I sent Zac a text asking if he would be willing to make the change. He responded, “Lol. No. His name is Earl.”
However, I have been granted permission to call our beaver Justin Earl for entertainment purposes in this column.
Earl is the latest in a long line of strange creatures to wander onto our property since we bought it three years ago.
First, we found Mervyn the turtle in the drainage ditch next to our house after a heavy rain. Zac and I spent hours watching him play outside our bedroom window the weekend that he appeared.
Mervyn stayed with us for just a few days, but he left a lasting impression. Shortly after his departure, we went to a local pet store and bought a spunky red-eared slider named Bert.
Although we loved Bert very much, we made other arrangements for him toward the end of my pregnancy because he was a potential carrier of salmonella.
Bert was our first pet, but we also had a weird cat that visited us frequently after we moved into the house. We noticed that it would come into the yard every evening at the same time and sit under the tree at the end of our driveway.
It never came any farther into the yard, it never did anything except sit and it was never late.
We called it “the ghost cat.”
We came home one night about a year ago and found an armadillo ambling across our front yard. We named him Arnie.
When we were still walking in the evenings, Zac always kept an eye out for a group of bats that reside in our neighborhood.
And I can’t neglect to mention the rabbit that comes around to nibble on Zac’s garden each spring, the lizard that attacked me from a basket of laundry, the mouse we chased through the house, the stray dog that had 10 puppies underneath our back porch and the snake whose life Zac wanted to spare because it would eat other snakes. (The pardon was denied.)
I should also note that we encounter all of these animals while living smack dab in the middle of the city limits.
Some woods do border our property, though, and the only critter I haven’t seen come out of them yet is Bambi.
Maybe I’ll put up a deer crossing sign. If we post it, they will come.