If you know me very well, the story that follows will not surprise you. If you know me only casually, you may very well distance yourself after reading this. If you know me only from my blog, you will most likely think that I'm not only weird, but foolhardy as well. I'm willing to risk these potential reactions, though, to tell this story.
A few days ago, I was driving to pick up my daughter at school when I spotted something gray and furry lying in the middle of a busy thoroughfare near our house. The roads were icy and snow-covered. Traffic was heavy. The wind was bitterly cold and the day was cloudy. Although it was hard to get a good look, it didn't appear to be a dead animal or a chunk of snow. It looked like a stuffed animal to me.
Most people would go on about their business and not think another thing about this. Not me. If it were indeed a stuffed animal, I could not bear the thought of it lying face down in the middle of a very busy street, feeling unloved and unwanted and facing near-certain squishing by the tires of some dirty SUV. I could not imagine how fearful that stuffed animal must be as it felt the "whoosh" of cars speeding by. Whatever it was, I could not leave it there.
By the time I could get back to the scene, it was 8:30 in the evening and pitch black outside. I drove slowly, expecting to find it smashed by the side of the road. Suddenly, my headlights caught it on a bridge that runs over a creek, lying precisely on the center line. "OK, that's doable," I thought. Just past the bridge, I pulled my car off the side of the road, turned on my hazard lights and got out. The wind was fierce. Traffic was heavy. Looking right and left, I plotted that I would run to the bridge, grab it, run back, put it into my car and drive home for inspection.
After several attempts, it became clear to me that I could not run quickly enough on the icy pavement to reach it without being hit by a car. Once on the bridge, there was no room to get out of the way of moving vehicles. But I could tell from my position near the siderail that it was, in fact, a bear or an elephant, and it had not yet been run over. Clearly, time was of the essence, yet I could not do this job alone.
Undaunted (and in fact, now on a mission), I drove to Starbucks and picked up a couple of triple caramel lattes with whip and drizzle, heated to 170 degrees (our usual order). Back at home, I placed one in DH's hand and asked him to drive the car to the bridge because I had to rescue something in the middle of the road. We've been married a long time, so he knew that this was not an optional activity: He got in the car and drove. With him behind the wheel, I quickly hopped out the passenger door and grabbed hold of an ear. "It's an elephant!" I squealed. Who could have left it there? Was it flung from the window of a car? Should I post "Found: One Stuffed Elephant" signs on light poles and place a notice in the newspaper? DH was concerned about germs. "Do not bring that thing into the house!"
Back home in the garage, I turned on the light and could see that the elephant was in remarkably good shape, considering what it had been through. Because the roads were covered with ice and snow, there was not a speck of dirt on it. For several days, the elephant rode in the back seat of my car, warm and comfortable and cheerily visible in my rear view mirror. Over the weekend, he entered the laundry room where he has been treated with Febreeze. Slowly, he is making his way deeper into our house, where he will be given a new bow and perhaps undergo a sex change in order to go by the name, Ellie.
I can't say for certain, but I'm fairly sure that Ellie is going to like it here. Whatever life she had is in the past. She's in a much kinder and gentler place now.