Bear with me. Or, should I say, Raccoon with me. Wading into deep technological waters for someone who is "challenged" when it comes to computer technology, I adjusted, tweaked and slimmed the size of this image. It has taken its toll on the creative limits of my imagination. Mr. Dog here as you see it is- as good as it gets, folks.
Tanuki, as he is called in Japan " has been part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary Tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absent-minded" according to Wikipedia. There's more to it, but I'd have to add the adult content disclaimer. It is also not the true reason why I have begun this post. I'll let you do the research, if you so choose. Google Raccoon Dog. I'll give you one true fact. The adult Tanuki is a real animal, often mislabeled badger. He has abnormally large testicles.
I'm sitting at the kitchen table sipping my strong, leftover coffee laced with chocolate. It gives me the power to leap tall buildings in a single bound and deflect bullets off my bare chest. I don't have the cape, since I just awoke. Our new kitchen windows afford a larger view of the east, looking across the fence line and into the field below which is a floodplain near the river. Three fourths of the time we've lived here, it has flooded. It becomes a five acre lake, waist deep. In last years June flood, Mother Nature washed sand bars off the bank of the river. The dairy farmer who owns the land would be hard pressed to grow corn in this field. He did throw one load of manure along the eastern boundary lat fall in a futile effort to reclaim the land.
If you have followed me in this winding tale of life in Kickapoo Center, you'll remember the appearance of the gnomes last fall. In the darkest parts of winter, all has been quiet at the base of the Norway pines on the east fence line. The loud parties, clinking and clanking of steins filled with hard cider and streaking gnomes rolling in snow disappeared with an stern warning and edict from the Grand Master; What was his name again? Oh, now I remember: Newton Ulm. No parties! No drinking! No women! The punishment? Banishment to work for the Amish down near Seneca. They are a stricter, more orthodox sect of Amish who will wear only black and believe that work is the one true way to honor the creator. Gnomes are not fond of work. They guard their identities closely. If you learn the name of a gnome he/she is required to work for you on tasks of your choosing. Does Newton Ulm work for me, you ask? The Grand Master is exempt from all gnomes rules and traditions. Gulp! My coffee isn't hot. It's the sight of three gnomes, Tanuki and Spot the dog from Our Gang. It means trouble. I reach for the tin can telephone hanging from a hook on the outside corner of the Arbor Vitae growing on the south side of the deck. It's connected to Hildy Pine. She's the wife of Jonathon Pine who grows at her left. They are both at the edge of the east fence line. Grandpa and Grandma ( who doesn't have a face) are scattered around the east forty forming a protective circle of trees for the old schoolhouse in which we live.
"Hello, hello, Newton are you there?" No answer. Since tin can phones have no operator I can call on, I shout again, louder. "Hallooo, anybody there?" "Gzsnurf, gasrumble, is that you Gavrillo." "Yes, I'm here." Sorry to wake you." " Oh you didn't wake me, I was just soaking in the tub enjoying a cigar. Wotcha want?" I describe the scene on my deck. "Tanuki, eh," says Newton Ulm. "Haven't seen him in these parts since the Japanese came to visit S&S Cycle back in '04 to look at their motorcycle engine production facilities. Hmm. He must've liked the area. Could have reminded him of home back in Gunma Province."
Newton promises to look into things. I step out on the deck. Brrr. It's cold. February 21st and the overnight temperatures sink down below zero. It's probably a good thing it snowed on Friday night. The 4 inches of snow will provide an insulating blanket against the biting cold.
"What's happening, guys?" I ask. The dog stares at me and rumbles a low growl. "Now, now, Spot, he's OK," the large gnome in the center says. " We hears ya are making de wurst." "Yes," I reply, "I'm making sausage." I wonder how they'd heard about the Polish, Italian and Chorizo I've been experimenting with. Must have been the odor of garlic, I surmise. "We'd like to help." My video camera brain imagines a dog, a shapeshifting raccoon dog and three jolly gnomes helping me with the sausage. " Come back on Tuesday. I won't have any ground pork until then. If you are really serious you can help me with the hog," I say. I look at them questioningly. I'll wait until I hear from Newton Ulm before I agree to anything with these characters.