Friday, March 4, 2011

Brother Rabbit and the Wild Dogs of Siberia

First off, props out to my lone follower from Slovenia, I am honored you keepF coming back. KlecKo is grateful!

So some of you know by now that Klecko is in the midst of one of the hardest winters that Minnesota has encountered....ever. We have had more blizzards in the last couple months than we have had in a decade. My house had Ice Damns and the roof leaked into my kitchen.

Klecko rolls with it, how? Because it has brought more animals to his yard. I have witnessed more woodpeckers, blue jays and cardinals than you can imagine, and as much as I love them......I love Brother Rabbit even more.

Years ago I read a book about Saint Francis of Assisi and my life changed, dude talked to animals like humans. Now I know most of you have met "that" person, the one who talks to dogs because every human on the planet pretty much thinks they are a freak. I'm not striving to be "that" guy.

But Saint Francis would go about his day and greet the animals as they crossed his path. Legend has it that when they came into sight he would raise a friendly hand and say "Good morning Brother Bird." I guess he loved all of Gods creations.

When that book started to draw towards an end, I rationed the pages. Back then I didn't have a shower, so I would sit in my bathtub and read it each morning. When he finally died, it is said that a flock of 1000 birds attended his funeral.

So throughout my kids childhood. They would get pissed because I would stand in the backyard and raise my 2 Pope fingers (thats pointer and middle finger to you non Catholics) like JP2 would do when he pardoned somebody "Good Morning Brother Squirrel" I'd blast out, and my son would get wicked pissed!

"Knock it off dad!!!" was his typical reply. Of course Sue McGleno tried to explain to him that his anger just fueled my desire to torture his soul. This is one of the few traits Fathers are good at.

But I still do it, even now that I am childless.

So I have a warren camped out in my Japanese Pine, and 3-4 nights a week I stand out at dusk. Rabbits will stay out in the evening, but like drunks...they exhibit crepuscular behavior and crawl out of bed around 3:30 p,m.

Throughout the winter I have employed numerous strategies, standing still in snowbanks for 60-90 minutes motionless in sub zero temps. Leaving chunks of sourdough out for my little friends...whatever it takes.

Last night though....I was walking around the corner of my garage and "BANG" there he was, Brother Rabbit was directly at my feet. I could of reached down and touched him. I thought about it, I wanted to. It seemed to make sense, after all we were in the year of the Rabbit, and I vowed I'd touch that rabbit by the winter thaw.

But just like Peter following Christ out of the boat to walk on the water.....I lost focus, my faith diminished. I started to think of people who talked about Rabies and Timothy Treadwell getting his head eaten by a bear because he crossed "God's Line"....the mythical boundry which is to seperate savages from saints.

I did want to go savage that moment, but I didn't. I simply pussed out, but Brother Rabbit stayed with me. I started thinking...."Seriously? This is bizarre, is he OK?"

But then he popped up and his front paws (do rabbits have paws, or are they feet?) and rotated then in small circles like a boxer working the speed bag.

Now Jeter the Cat came walking up the path shoveled in a snow bank. I was certain Brother Rabbit would bail at the sight of this thug...he didn't. Jeter the Cat has punked dozens of bunnies. I don't dig it, but that's a cat's scene, but last night. I told my special feline.... "Brother Rabbit is with me, you need to respect that and stand behind me, Satan cat."

OMG....I swear to Caesar, the cat just turned around. and went back into the house.Even I was starting to freak myself out LOL.

I don't know how this winter will end with Brother Rabbit, but I gotta say, it kinda made me dig nature. I really am not a fan of the great outdoors. I like my back yard, and I like it even better when nature comes to me.

I learned to observe animals when I was baking on a government scope in Yakutsk. This is the Asiatic Arctic of northern Siberia. I was working in a French cafe of all things, at the Kasskad Food co op. Things were crazy up there. all the plumbing is laid out above the frost line. Apartment buildings stand on top of metal beams so the base of the building won't freeze. you can actucally hold your hands up over your head and walk underneath the entire complex.

Many of the buildings are painted in kaleidoscope patterns so the people won't be crushed by depression during the winter days when they won't see sun light. It gets 65 below zero. People die, it's a trip.

But I was there during the spring, at the peak of white nights. For gifts I brought Jack Daniels and Marlboro Reds because I was told that's what Russians like. But Siberians are not Russians, they are Siberians, maybe like how Texans view themselves differently than the rest of America.

But Siberians do like their drink, in fact I was just informed that Sergi our van driver/mechanic just went blind from drinking a bad batch of "Sumegone" or Russian Moonshine.....just one thimble and...Praise God, it is as if the Holy Spirit enters you. I'm serious, you actually feel flames in your guts. It's the best high you'll ever experince.

Cigarettes are scarace there , so after a few belts of the divine drink, they start smoking homemade versions. However the only resources they have to achieve this is pig dung wrapped in brittle paper, but I'll be honest....I've smoked worse LOL.

So I lived in a beat up trailer which was across from the pig sty, and my host was a guy named Sasha, Sasha was about 5 feet 4, but the village feared him as if he was the Devil himself. He spent 12 years in a gulag or prison and was at the point of life where he had nothing left to fear.

On his shoulder blades he had tattoo's on the left was a picture of a Russian dignitary standing in front of the Kremlin. it was framed by a rifle scope. On the other side he had an identical tat, but the dignitary was replaced with a wolf, and it too was caught in the scopes cross eye.

Sasha, really got hammered, and when he did, people spread apart like a 10 Commandments Sea. and the part that tripped me out was not only that he responsible for me, but I kinda think dude was into me.

Like in a "dude" way, what would Sue McGleno say?

I had no cell phone, no computer, and my interpreter was only in our compound for a few hours each day. during "White Nights" it is really easy for your mental clock to get twisted, so if you were a drunk like Sasha....every hour was Happy Hour.

It would be 3:26 a.m., sun shining bright, everybody in the compound would be sound asleep, and my special "buddy" would kick open my door and urge we to walk off the site with him. He used pantomime signals, but I just never went along with what might of been an unwanted love nest.

Instead, I sat in front of a pig sty for a week reading Capote's "In Cold Blood" and smoking Marb's. As I did this I saw all kinds of wild dogs passing across this vast, scarred looking terrain. It was so "Ugly Duckling" but so breathtakingly beautiful at the same time.

Dogs are called "Sobaka(s)" and people of the village are as likely to befriend them as a New Yorker would be to pet a rat.But none the less they did have names for them...there was Jackie Chan (which sounds far more bad a** with a Russian accent), Francis, Betsy....etc-etc.

But when you think of wild dog packs, you think of German Sheppard's and Rottweilers right? dude.....In one of the toughest climates on earth, they had fricken French Bull Dogs running with the pack as well. The people from my compound wouldn't admit it, but they liked the Frenchies.

So one night when Sasha stopped by during vampire hours, he made the hand signal for getting drunk. In Russia you place your pointer finger into your juggler vein and twist its like a key. I only had one liter of Jack left, but I told Sasha, if I was going to open it, he would have to take me to the sobaka's headquarters.

Sasha just shook his head, helped himself to my smokes and off we went up by the cafe I was working at, behind it was a field, like a garbage dump. I just could not get used to a Phoenix-Noon sunshine at 3:30 in the morning, but I took a belt off the bottle, handed it to Sasha, and the two of us dug in. Sasha was always happy if he had alcohol. It didn't even matter if he was sitting in a dump.

So now I open my backpack and pull out chunks of brioche that I had made with the staff earlier that day. I placed them out in the open. I'll bet a couple hours passed. Sasha was 3/4's of the way done with the bottle. Neither of us had tried to communicate with the other.

We were amidst what I think yoga zen people strive for, it was a special form of bliss. Sasha was liquored up, and Klecko saw wild sobakas in their natural element, Now they entered our site.Cautiously the pack circled and sniffed. Sasha didn't look like he liked this, but this was his land, and by gum....he couldn't bolt if the American wasn't afraid.

At one point, I even got one to eat from my hand. I think this impressed Sasha a bit, later that day he would go on to tell one of the women in the office that Americans were quite fearless.

I had to smile, but I just replied that Klecko was not an "Americone" anymore.....he was a Siberian. Sasha once again shook his head and walked away muttering. when I asked his wife Valentine what his departing words were, she smiled nervously and said "Why would such a man leave the greatest country on earth to come and visit a place like this for an entire month?"

I had to start laughing, I respectfully put my arm around Valentine, gave her a little hug and told her "As long as the sobaka's run wild on this land. This this the place I want to be!"

Valentine flashed me a whimsical look and said..."Yes, it is true, you American are crazy, and if I find out that you feed my bread to those dogs anymore....there will be no more tea for you." And... even though I don't like being touched all that much, she hugged me like only a Siberian woman felt good.

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