Nanuk and the Peeps
As told by Julieann Dreamer
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No profit is being made. No copyright infringement is intended.
All this talk about peeps reminds me of a little 'episode' this spring. For those of you not familiar with Springtime in Alaska, it is the one day in May or early June when the weather suddenly turns warm and clear. The following day the mosquito's hatch and officially herald the beginning of summer. As a consequence, the one day of spring is a special time for Alaskans. A day to enjoy the great outdoors without being eaten alive by little flying buzzing kamikaze's who seem to LIKE bug dope. Nanuk and I had been impatiently waiting for the day to arrive. Thanks to El Nino the day of spring came a little late. The mosquitos had hatched, but thanks to all the rain, we still had our one day of peace while the mosquito's tried to dry out their wings.
Nanuk was the first to get up that morning. It was a Saturday, and I was going to sleep in, dagnabit! Poking his head outside about 5 A.M, the sun was already shining, the skies clear blue and the soft warmth that announces that it isn't winter any longer (do the words "midnight sun" mean anything?). I had planned to spend the one day of spring having a barbecue, plant a garden, and basically spend it outside having fun. Nanuk apparently had other plans.
The smell of smoke is what finally woke me up. Woke me up with a start. I barreled down the hall, into the livingroom/diningroom, only to skid to a stop, stunned, to find 7 pairs of eyes looking at me, in different stages of surprise, astonishment, amusement, and something else I don't even WANT to know. And in the midst of them was Nanuk, looking totally innocent, fluttering his eyelashes. Pulling my nightshirt as far down my legs as I could as Jason let out a whistle, I grit my teeth and rushed back the way I had come.
Coming back out safely attired, I hunted down the big white lump, only to find that he had immured himself along with Tiny, Keyop and Chief Anderson around the barbecue. Which was where the smoke was coming from, wafting into the house from off the porch through the ajar sliding glass door. Keyop coughed while trying to fan the coals with a piece of paper.
"Why is this wood smoking?" Chief Anderson was demanding. He picked up a small piece of wood from the pile next to the barbecuer, "Perhaps I should send some of it to the lab."
"Keyop didn't pick up the right kind of wood. Can't we have decent store-bought coals?" Tiny complained.
"** buy it yourself **" Keyop managed to say between coughing episodes. Behind him Nanuk was signing something, accidently poking Chief Anderson in the ribs in his effort to be understood.
"Does anyone know what he is saying?" Anderson finally asked, rubbing his ribs.
"**Too wet**" Keyop said.
"The wood is wet." I finally said, shaking my head, "It has been raining here for a while. There is dry wood in the garage. Nanuk, may I speak to you?"
*Only wanted a party!* Nanuk signed.
Before I could sign anything back at him chief Anderson asked, "Would you please get a few pieces, Julieann? The way this is going, we won't be eating until mid afternoon."
Which got Tiny complaining. Keyop fanned the wood faster, Nanuk tried to tell him to slow down before he fanned out the tiny flames, and Chief Anderson yelped as he got poked in the ribs again. I rolled my eyes. What a way to start out a day.
Knowing I had lost even before the fight started, I went back into the house and headed for the garage. Only to find the garage door open. And the toolbox rolled out to.....MY CAR!
"Jason, what do you think you're doing?!"
Wiping his hands on what I saw was one of my newer dish clothes, he looked up from under the hood. "How long has it been since this oil has been changed? And these filters are a mess."
"And sparkplugs." Mark added, having taken one out. "Her plane is in much better shape."
Jason snorted, "Look who's talking. Your car needs to be completely rebuilt."
"Those sparkplugs are new!" I insisted as I walked closer. There were parts all over the driveway. How much had they disassembled? They hadn't been here that long!
"New?" Mark asked doubtful, raising his eyebrow in disbelief.
"Well, they were new last year!"
"Time for a run to the auto store." Jason declared. He fished out his car keys, and laid the rag over the fender. Watching them get into Jason's car and driving down the road, I could all of a sudden visualize the balance of my checkbook hitting a big "0".
With a sigh, I picked up an armful of dry wood and made my way back to the barbecue. Leaving them, I started opening up all the windows of the house, hoping the smoke wouldn't trigger the smoke alarms.
I found Princess in the kitchen, much to my surprise. She looked up from the sandwich she was rapidly eating and grinned. "Nanuk came and got us before I could eat breakfast."
"I know the feeling." I said. Opening up the refrigerator, I pulled out the salmon Nanuk had snagged out of the Kenai river the day before and set about getting it ready for the barbecue.
And so the day started. Nanuk managed to always have someone with him, so our little 'talk' would most likely have to wait until the next day. I watched mournfully as my poor car was slowly taken apart bit by bit. I didn't dare say much, as Jason seemed to think everything he found wrong was in some way my doing. The one time I told him that I'd had my car checked over by a good mechanic last fall and it had been running fine, I got a whole speel about car maintenance and checking credentials. Mark didn't say much, but he grinned big enough. I scowled at him. We'll see if he flys in my plane again!
Princess and I did end up in the garden, though her habit of taking a ruler and checking the exact spacing between the seeds and sprouts was a little annoying. And the way she talked to each one before putting them in the ground. What was even more annoying was that the plants she had done weren't as droopy as mine by that afternoon, and I could swear that the seeds she planted were already sprouting. Must be a figment of my imagination. By that afternoon, she had announced to Chief Anderson that she wanted a garden of her own in the readyroom of Center Neptune. He looked at me hard, as if it was my fault for planting the idea in her head.
Tiny was in his element, having found a "Kiss The Cook" apron (I have NO idea where that came from), presiding over the barbecue like a gourmet chef. Nanuk and Keyop romped around the yard, woods and even took a quick walk to the nearby beach. As you can imagine, Keyop came back covered in sand with shells collected in his pockets.
The salmon tasted great, as well as the potatoes slowly cooked in tinfoil over the coals. Princess managed to put together a tossed salad that was edible, much to the surprise of about everyone.
The day grew hotter. Nanuk looked like he was sweltering, since he hadn't yet shed his thick winter coat (as if he didn't shed over EVERYTHING all year long). Jason made some comment about strapping Keyop to the hood of his car, since there was no way he was riding inside with how sandy he was. Which got Princess started, which got Mark started, which got Chief Anderson started, which is what started ALL of it.
Start what, you ask? Well, you didn't think this was just a story about G-Force at a barbecue, did you? We were talking about peeps, weren't we? I hear someone ask, what does any of this have to do about peeps? Well, you would be surprised. So, let me continue....
Ever since he was a little cub, Nanuk has loved to play in water. Most polar bears do. And at home, one of his favorite pastimes is turning on the sprinkler and running through it. Well, this is what happened this day. Before I knew it, the sprinkler was on, and Nanuk and Keyop were jumping through it, playing tag, and generally having fun. Tiny happily munched on all the leftovers, Chief Anderson found my astronomy books, and then proceeded to tell me all the errors in all of them, Princess got a cleaning bug and started in the kitchen (I told her she could do the rest of the house too. Boy, did I get a nasty look), and Mark and Jason returned to my car. I didn't bother them, I wanted them to put my car back together before they left!
I helped clear off the picnic table, went out to help the boys when they demanded to know where the rest of my tools were, helped Princess with the dishes, and tried to ignore the mess Chief Anderson was making of my library. At least I knew he would put everything back once he was done reading.
Somewhere during this time, Nanuk and Keyop had come into the house to dry off. Keyop is always getting into dirt and grime when he comes over, so Princess had taken to leaving fresh clothing for him to change into at my house. Something I heartily agreed with, especially after the time he got into that clay and coal on the beach. What a mess that was. Anyway, somewhere between drying off and changing, Nanuk and he decided they needed a little 'desert'. And got into my snack stash in my room.
Now, I am known to LOVE peeps, especially those that have aged a little and have a nice crunch to them. I keep them safe, in their little packages in my room, with the packaging open just enough to age them, but not open far enough to let the little buggers escape. That is, under usual circumstances. Without a certain bear helping.
With dishwater suds still on my hands I raced to the back of the house. My bedroom door was open, and out of it skittered chick peeps, rabbit peeps, of all different colors.
"Nanuk!" I screeched.
I heard Princess let out a piercing scream from the kitchen and the sound of her jumping on some furniture. Chief Anderson let out a startled oath as an army of peeps invaded the library. I was surprised he even knew such a word. I glared at Nanuk and Keyop as they peaked around the door in my bedroom.
"Nanuk, have we not had talks about my bedroom? And my snacks?" I asked in a carefully controlled voice.
Nanuk looked back at me sheepishly as Jason let out with a stream of curses from the garage and Mark yelled into the house, "Julieann, what the....."
ahem, anyway, as you can imagine, Nanuk was grounded for a little while. No playing with his seal buddies for two weeks. I heard later that Princess had drafted Keyop for weeding detail for the small garden set up in the readyroom.
Trying to capture the little peeps turned out to be harder than I thought. Princess came up with all sorts of little traps, as did Chief Anderson after they had ran over his foot one too many times. But all failed.
My car did survive Jason. When he started it up for the first time, it was a surprise to hear it roar to life and then thrumm steadily, instead of the soft purr I was accustomed to. I eyed Jason suspiciously, asked him what he had done, but he never answered to me. Just smiled secretively. I still wonder what he did as I surge forward at Mach 5 from a complete stop at a traffic light, leaving those little teenyboppers eating my dust. Oh well, could have been a lot worse. Could have been a lot better, too. Despite trying to talk him into it all summer, he just refuses to mount a missile launcher to the hood. Blowing a few RV's out of my way while driving sure would relieve some of my summertime stress, I keep telling him. He just snickers and tells me to "deal with it". I bet he doesn't just "deal with it". Fumefumefume
Because of the car, everyone ended up staying at the house a little late. Which was fine, since we spent the time watching movies. Halfway through the "Rocketeer" Mark came in for a beer, saw what was on, and stayed to watch it, much to the annoyance of Jason. It was a pretty normal night, except for the multicolored peeps scurrying across the floor from one hiding place to another. Much to my annoyance, Princess used this as an excuse to cuddle up next to Mark on the couch with her feet tucked up under her. There is no way you can convince me she is terrified of some harmless little peeps! Especially after that smug little look she tossed my way at the end of the movie....
Okay, lets get back on track. Someone asked before if peeps melt. Well, I can say most certainly, they do. How do I know? Well, they seem to have gotten into every part of the house. Even outside! I've seen their little tracks out in the garden. One morning I put a cup of water in the microwave to make some tea. As I was closing the door, unbeknownst to me, a peep hopped in.
P.S. When I opened the door, there was a little gooey marshmallow lump on the tray. Good thing the microwave wasn't on that long, or all that sugar content could have started a fire. Like what happened when one got into the oven...
Nanuk has become quite adept at hunting the little things, he's better than a cat! All he has to do is lay still, and eventually the peeps think its all clear, and start darting around the room. Hey, to a peep, a big huge white polar bear is like a mountain. Too big to see all of it. Especially the watchful eyes, and the quick paws....
Sometimes he can snag up to five, without any of the others knowing, if he can keep them from squeaking. And the others just continue their wanderings, unaware anything has happened....
And I have to admit, its kinda fun to watch the little things. I think they made a nest in the crawlspace. And they don't seem to be getting into anything in the kitchen. Not that I've noticed. In fact, what do peeps eat? Anyone know? I asked the local veterinarian, and he just gave me a really funny look.
And at night, all I have to do is just reach down over the bed, snag one as it runs by to have a midnight snack...
Keyop loves to come over to the house now, even more than before. He's actually succeeded in catching a few peeps. But much to my dismay, all he did was train them to do tricks. Princess made him let them go before they left. I don't blame her for not letting him bring them home. They seem to multiply at an amazing rate.
At least the local eagles are helping to keep the population under control. Though I did see a Fish and Game Officer in the area not long ago. My neighbor said they were concerned at the unusual amount of weight the local birds seem to be putting on lately.....
Oh well, just another weird Alaskan summer.
The end...for now...