Harriet Beecher Stowe, Social Class and Chipmunks

I adore Harriet Beecher Stowe’s use of squirrels and chipmunks to convey the ills of elitist classism and what it means to be a commoner vs an entitled lofty “genius” with airs. Stowe’s lampooning is cutting and brilliant; she distills complex issues of entitlement and value into a charming children’s tale. I’m sharing it with you here since it’s ageless, timeless and celebrates a special fictional chipmunk named Tip. The following is an excerpt from “The Nutcrackers of Nutcracker Lodge” contained within “Queer Little Folks” published in 1897. I’m totally a Tip and not a Featherhead! You’ll know what I mean after you read this enjoyable excerpt:

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Give them an inch and they’ll take it!

Yesterday I gave up on my belief that I can make a positive difference with respect to wildlife after one of my chipmunk pals ingested poison on a neighboring property.

I want to be an “influencer” but not in the arena of nonsense like “buy this wrinkle filler” or “click here to get a discount on my favorite $400 t-shirt, I’m so obsessed!” I don’t make any money from this. I simply want to spark an interest in wildlife. I want people to fall in love with their own backyard, so to speak. I do this because those living, breathing intelligent mammals who experience pain, fear and suffering deserve our respect and kindness. They’re the underdogs and I will always be in their corner. It’s been that way my entire life. The insect poster child of pollinators, the Monarch butterfly, is essential to our survival. Their population has declined more than 80%!

Someone I know who bought my book Wishy the Bookworm Chipmunk fell in love with him. He would bring it up every time I saw him and tell me it brings him a lot of joy. I asked if Wishy inspired him to see the chipmunks in his yard differently? His entire countenance changed into something somewhat demonic as he said: “Oh, you don’t don’t want to know about the things I do to them!” Seriously. I walked away.

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“It’s just a chipmunk.”

“As we live and as we are, Simplicity – with a capital “S” – is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.” ― Frank Lloyd Wright, The Natural House

FLW’s quote reminded me of my little booklet celebrating Squares, also with a capital “S” by Charles H Brower who stated: “Too many of us haven’t got the guts to stand up straight and dare to be square”. 

I’m feeling this more than ever right now. It’s not easy valuing creatures and ways of being that many today view as being naive or living in a bubble (which I do). I experienced this when I wrote my book, American Women Didn’t Get Fat in the 1950s which I wrote eight years ago after being annoyed with the book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat.” Something very simple such as counting calories in a healthy, measured way which for me is no different than keeping a budget in Quicken is labelled by many (as a general concept) as having an eating disorder. Doing my best to be a good Steward of my land has put me at odds with people and policies over the years. My Certification for my home being a Wildlife Habitat isn’t just a feel-good thing to mention in a blog post. Living in an outdated cottage isn’t just about pretty vintage linens and decor.

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Crazy Quilt, Candlesticks, Esmerellda

I’ve had some beautiful unfinished business tucked away in an old cedar chest that I brought to light: A handmade depression-era “crazy” quilt top that was never actually quilted. I purchased it at an estate sale years ago and figured “one day” I’ll commission someone to finish it. When I saw it at the bottom of the linen chest while changing out the blankets for the season I decided that it doesn’t need to be finished. It’s perfect in its imperfect, unfinished state. It’s now a gorgeous bedspread!

I made some new backyard friends this summer and found a treasure left behind by my dearly departed Esmerellda.

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Reader Question: Do you have a Secret Garden?

When I was living on Roosevelt Island in New York City I discovered a small area that was, in retrospect, a terrible place for me to sit as far as chemicals go! It was a bit of a landfill with empty barrels. But it also had trees. So before school, wearing my Sony Walkman headphones around my neck, I’d bring my bagel from the diner and sit in the relative silence and stillness. It was wonderful! I was able to feel moments of calm during an otherwise chaotic and painful time. It was my secret getaway.

I’d love to know if you, my dear readers, have a special place in nature, or close to it? It can be a beautiful place outside or a potted plant by a window that brings you comfort…

A Fairy Patch

It’s raining again today and I’m not sure our tomato plants are going to be able to survive. I can’t cut any more diseased leaves off because if I do there won’t be any plants left. I’ve invested at least an hour a day in them since May so it feels like a personal loss. I’m losing hope of ever having my favorite homegrown tomato sandwiches this summer. Yesterday, however, we had a day of sunshine.

Wayne and I went for a drive to visit some special places including a secret garden. Although I was surrounded by beauty I couldn’t shake off a deep melancholy that had set in. I felt powerless. Finally I stopped fighting it and let myself feel sad. It was then that I saw a chipmunk dart across my path and I went over to where it led me. It was a little patch of fairyland!

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Floaters and Passers-By

I went to my eye doctor last week, and I officially have my first “floater” which can occur with maturing eyes. It kind of looks like an amoeba floating by on repeat. I guess the good news is that now, instead of just tinnitus, I have a full audio-visual experience! Thankfully, just like my tinnitus, it’s not noticeable all of the time, and when it is, I’ve gotten better at not being annoyed or anxious. I also recently had an audiogram to make sure the hearing loss in my right ear hasn’t worsened and it’s actually improved a bit!

Wayne and I recently went on a ferry ride to tour the Islands which we like to do in the summer. If you visit Portland, which just made #8 in U.S. News list of best places to live, I highly recommend you take a ride!

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