Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Howard Sends a Christmas Card

I got a letter from Howard. It doesn't say anything about Chantale, or where he's staying EXACTLY, but I'm glad he's on the move again. He functions best as a Nomad. I love him for it. Here it is:

Dear Sir Barrett,

How is your family? Are you remembering what I told you last time about Christmas? what Howard said Africa is wonderful!! Gloriously wonderful! I am busy as usual but I just wanted to write you to send warmest greetings and tell you a bit about what has caught my interest and is probably the most intense study that I’ve ever emerged myself in. That’s considering that I’m not a real study kind of chap, but I came here for the exposure. An offshoot of that project is another little hobby horse: the Aardvark.

Aardvark means “Earth Pig” in Afrikaans. You can try to learn this language yourself and prove it, but if you’re anything like I am, here's a tip: you’ll confuse your clicking with your clacking and your mouth will become a trap into which language will never re-emerge.

It’s hairy, has a long snout, and a slithery tongue that comes out to get ants and other bugs stuck to it. With its pointy hooves, it looks quite like a curious little devil, and smells like on as well. By that I mean that it has an acute sensitivity to scents. It might surprise you to know that it can also hear you whispering even at a great distance, so perhaps you should stop and pay attention. They aren’t hooves exactly, but they look like them. Their 2nd and 3rd toes are webbed in a freakish way which goes against my constitution but I will tolerate it for this lesson and have put that aspect of them away in light of their other fine characteristics. I would tell you about waking up to the sound of them madly clawing into the roots and sable earth but that is for another time. Haven't you got things to do this busy season?

I have admired and respected Aardvarks as shy little blokes who may sleep a little too much, but they maintain a saintly modesty and never interfere with business, so quite fit into a symbiotic environment. When I was in the savannas doing the greater part of my horticulture research on breeds of African grasses, I found that one Aardvark would sometimes come out during the day. I would peer at him from my wickerchair just to see what he was about. He minded his own business but, to my amusement, liked to saunter around in the shade by the back porch, helping himself to the termites that were eating the wood away. Their brown coats are rather fashionable and though I cannot get over their feet, they are admirably unique, being the only species in their animal family, the Orycteropodidae family. Their order is Tubulidentata after their teeth, which they only have along their cheeks, which are made of tubules compressed together instead of enamel like human teeth.

I did not ever figure out exactly what purpose their teeth served. They have these bristles in the front, but other then giving me an impression of a deranged moustache, I couldn’t for St.Peters sake find out what it was. I thought that perhaps sharing this with you, you could think of the friendlier climates and animals at Christmas time. Of course, I am not saying Canada is not a friendly climate but I prefer not to wear ridiculous scarves everywhere. I promise you I will be back again soon. Keep the blog going.

May you see the greatest successes over the New Year,
Howard Wayword


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