Getting Ready For Winter

By Beck

My youngest child was given a chipmunk stuffed animal for Christmas this year, one of Santa’s more inspired stocking stuffers. And he’s a pretty cute toy chipmunk and all, but my kids – as a rule – are fairly indifferent to stuffed animals, despite having enough of them to stock a fairly impressive and yet inanimate zoo.

His name is Chippy. When The Baby is tucked into bed at night, you can hear her sleepily talking to him (“How are you doing tonight, Chippy?” And he replies “Chip chip, chip chip,” since he is a chipmunk and she will tell you very  solemnly CANNOT TALK.), and he is her solemn, silent companion everywhere.

“Would your chipmunk like a peanut?” asked the kindly owner of the grocery store. The Baby shook her head no, and said, once he was out of earshot, “That man was just silly. Chippy isn’t real. He is a toy.” And yet when she had to get a painful medical test the other day, she carefully turned his head away from her and whispered, “Don’t worry Chippy. It will be over in a minute.”

We have real chipmunks living in our yard. One of them – well, my husband swears that it’s the same one, although I remain dubious – has been dubbed “Anthony” for mysterious reasons by my kids, and Anthony is quite a friendly fellow. He marches RIGHT BY us when we’re walking through the yard, apparently completely unconcerned. He comes up on the porch when we’re sitting on it, busy with his chipmunk work. And several times now, my husband has knelt down and Anthony has cautiously but not fearfully made his way over to him, almost close enough to touch. He is, we feel, our chipmunk, and this ownership makes him dear.

Anthony is busily storing food away right now, dashing by us with full cheeks, disappearing down into his burrow over and over again. He is too busy right now to bother with us, but The Baby always shrieks a greeting to him anyhow with Chippy – much faded with multiple washings, unravelling more each day – clutched in her hands.

“Do you see him?” she whispers to him. “That’s a real chipmunk.”

“Chip chip, chip chip,” Chippy answers back

The Baby has more medical tests scheduled soon. She will doubtlessly bring Chippy with her and clutch his increasingly shabby self to her stoic little chest and turn his head away from what she cannot avoid. Meanwhile, below ground, Anthony will be doing his secret work, and hoping, in the yearningless way of the animals, for a kind winter.


16 Responses to Getting Ready For Winter
  1. Kyla
    August 6, 2009 | 10:08 am

    That is really adorable. “Don’t worry Chippy. It will be over in a minute.”

    We have to take Gee to all of KayTar’s unfortunate medical procedures, somehow rubbing a fresh wound with her soft old blanket makes it feel infinitely better.

  2. Rachel in CA
    August 6, 2009 | 10:22 am

    Beautiful post, Beck. Makes me feel all tugged-around inside. Turning his little stuffed head away and consoling him! Sniff. I hope everything goes well for her with her tests.

  3. Megan
    August 6, 2009 | 10:30 am

    AW. Chip chip chip. Bean vollies quickly between pragmatism and imagination with Teddy, too. I think he’s only allowed to be “real” to HER.

    Oh, but Beck, there’s something in the tone of the end of this post that I don’t quite like for you. Is The Baby okay? (Worries.)

  4. Nowheymama
    August 6, 2009 | 10:30 am

    I hope the tests go well. We just went through ours. Yuck.

    Our neighbor makes trails of peanuts to attract squirrels, which they bury in our yard. Awesome.

  5. Nicole
    August 6, 2009 | 10:45 am

    Oh, I hope the tests are all right.

    I love her response to the man in the grocery store!

  6. Cristan
    August 6, 2009 | 11:20 am

    One of your best!

  7. Sue
    August 6, 2009 | 11:49 am

    Beck – you are an awesome writer!

  8. becky
    August 6, 2009 | 1:16 pm

    What a sweet post, Beck. I hope Chippy brings her comfort. But I hope even more, that she is pronounced “fit as a fiddle” and no longer needs medical tests. Tell her I think she is a brave girl!

  9. Nadia
    August 6, 2009 | 1:32 pm

    Chippy is a pretty cute chipmunk :).

    Hope the tests go well. Those are never fun!

  10. sarah
    August 6, 2009 | 8:10 pm

    HEYO. that’s a good post, now.

  11. tracey
    August 7, 2009 | 9:51 am

    So sweet… Evan’s panda bear (Pandy, if you know him well) has been around since he was a baby. Now gray on gray, Pandy is balding and partially blind. But, oh! He is loved.

    My sister asked if Pandy was going to have a bath one day. Evan looked her dead in the eye “Auntie V. Pandy isn’t REAL.” Duh.

  12. Reluctant Housewife
    August 7, 2009 | 10:34 am

    Poor little one. Such a brave girl! I’m glad she has Chippy. I hope the tests go well and the results are good.

  13. patois
    August 7, 2009 | 10:47 am

    She’s a chip off the ole Beck.

  14. chrissy
    August 8, 2009 | 10:19 pm

    Awwwww. Hope the tests went well.

  15. PastormacsAnn
    August 12, 2009 | 11:47 pm

    So lovely Beck. So lovely. Hope her tests bring about good results.

  16. smsraha
    April 8, 2012 | 10:56 pm

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