Set me a seal upon your heart,
As a ring upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death...
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
A flame of the Eternal.

Song of Songs viii 6-7

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Sunday, October 2, 2011


Journal Entry
Wednesday 09/8/2004
Oxford, England
Time Unknown

I met up with Char in London again and she drove us on to Oxford, her home. Because there was still so much to see, she decided to take more time off. This gave us the opportunity to tour Christ Church, Warwick Castle and some quaint shops in dreamy Oxford, not necessarily in that order. Knowing our time was short, we tried to cover as much territory as possible – that is, considering Mandy’s toasted marshmallow toe.

First, we stopped by Char’s house so I could spend some time with her parents, James and Wilma, and drop off my luggage. I hadn’t seen them since they had flown back to the states to visit Max and their daughter, Paulette, in Sonoita. Char said her folks weren’t well, but they were doing a little better than they had been for quite some time. Bless them, I was glad to hear that they were improving, at least. I so hope their progress continues this way.

Amazingly, as we pulled up to her home on another one of those sweet sunlit days, Char spotted something wiggling in the bushes. “Look, I think it’s a hedgehog!” she said, jumping from her car seat.

“Oh, where?” I said, hobbling around the other side. One time Max told me that when he was a lad, he had found a hedgehog somewhere in the brush. He said he tried with persistence to make a household pet out of the little fellow.

Char zeroed in, with me trailing behind. “Char, I don’t see him at all.”

“Shush, over here!” she whispered, pointing and tiptoeing into the brush by the house. Before long, I actually spotted the brown-barbed creature, quivering and darting about. “How cute he is!” But, alas, he scampered away, tunneling under the leaves and loam.

“Oops, maybe not so happy to see us,” Char said.

“I’ve never seen a pint-sized porcupine before. Let me have at him!” I said, lunging forward, forgetting that to touch the prickly animal would probably prove to be quite painful.

“Watch out, he might get you!” Char said. Leaves scattered as the miniscule hedgehog burrowed even further underground. Maybe he thought he’d be lunchmeat if he stuck around too long.

“Okay,” she smiled, “he’s buried.”

“Hey, come back here, little guy! Darn, he’s gone.”

“You’ll never get him now.”

Nevertheless, our little hedgehog encounter couldn’t have been a more auspicious way of welcoming me to the lovely home where Max had once lived with his guardians “and my sisters,” as he used to say. Though Max had been adopted sans records, he always called James’ and Wilma’s three girls his sisters. I liked that.

One time when Max was talking about his pint-sized playmate, he told me the hedgehog was the only pet he’d ever had as a child. And so, with a lump in my throat, I followed Char to the ivy-lined house where her parents stood waving and opening the screen door, ready to welcome us inside. On the way, I couldn’t help but think we were somehow playing a part in the delightful tale, The Wind in the Willows, with the hedgehog, Mr. Badger, Toady and the whole gang.

Of course I believe "The Toad" was there with us – if not in corporeal form, then surely in spirit.


1. Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, abridged and illustrated by Inga Moore, (London: Walker Books Ltd., 2000).

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