Morning discoveries

I went outside fairly early this morning to water the front garden. All of the plants and even trees needed it because of the sudden and severe heatwave that has afflicted the Pacific Northwest. After high temperatures that were well below seasonal averages for most of the past few months, we’ve had several consecutive days of record-setting highs. 95 on Friday–gah! Fortunately it is supposed to cool down tomorrow.

Two discoveries awaited me.

At the edge of our driveway I spotted one of the largest slugs I’ve seen in a long time, almost as long as my hand (fingers included) and robust, to boot. I find these guys fascinating; I watched it for a while and was happy to see that it was making its way at what might have been top slug speed off the concrete and toward the moist ground cover.

On one of the flagstone paths lay a small (significantly smaller than the slug) common mole, paws up, bearing no sign of violence or trauma, dead as a doornail. A lot of people despise these little insectivores. Perhaps, if I had a grass lawn, I wouldn’t be as fond of them as I am (a legacy of The Wind in the Willows?). But among our untidy masses of perennials and ground cover, the moles’ activities are neither unsightly nor irritating, and it’s fun to watch Xerxes stick his paw hopefully, but always in vain, down their holes when I take him out for walkies. Anyway, I buried the corpse at the side of the path, partly because it just seemed weird to see a mole aboveground and partly so that Xerxes won’t try to play with it later when we go out. Its fur, by the way, was astonishingly soft and silky–hence, I suppose, moleskin.

On another front, Zach has been in Italy since Wednesday morning and will return on the 29th. I am making good use of my precious solo time to get a lot of work done on the Human Evolution series. I’ve settled a number of organizational questions and have put together what I think is a first-class set of back matter (glossaries, time lines, “further reading” lists of good books and Web sites, etc.). These procrastinatory tactics aside, I am actually well into the writing, with every expectation of turning in the first two mss. by Zach’s return. Of course, I’m not doing much of anything but work, but that’s fine. It makes up for all the stretches of time when I do so little of it.

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