Friday, January 22, 2016

Hazel Nutt Ratty Rat, A Formal Introduction

Though she's been with us nearly a year, you may not know it, but we have a rat. We have had rats before. And we have loved them dearly... they have been sweet, kind, friendly, engaging, curious, outgoing, gentle, fun. We have adored them, and called them Ratty Rats with affection, without guile. They have also not lived very long lives, sadly. Rest in peace: Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, and Winry Ratt. Geoff is especially fond of these little friends, so about a year ago we brought home one more...

Her first night in our home she kept everyone awake with her nibble gnawing. She sat in her barn, away from prying eyes, timid, flinchy, and ravenously hungry. "What is that sound?" Geoff implored. It's the Ratty Rat. She really likes eating. "Yes. But what is she eating?" It was an uncanny racket for such a small being. It was a hazel nut she was so diligently grinding away at, and Geoff declared, "Well, that's her name. She's definitely Hazel."

She bit my finger the next day. Hard. Painfully hard. I was taken aback. Heart crushed. Dismayed. I warned everyone.

She would not be pet, or held, or persuaded to sit still long enough to be admired.

And. Nothing much has changed.

Warning: Hazel Nutt bites!!! That's what it says on the sign Maria hangs before guests arrive.

She is not an aggressive ratty rat. She's not out for blood, shifty, or wily. Hazel Nutt is timid, reserved, not outgoing. She has a singular love and that love is for food. When she bites, it's either because she detected molecular food particles on your person, or because you failed to respect her personal space. Food and space, that's all she asks for.

She might be the most disappointing pet we have ever had. She might... but in her own way, she's interesting, or at least we have found ways of enjoying her for who she is, respecting her nature, and providing her with what she enjoys most: Noms. I can't deny it's a frustrating irony that our mild and fun-loving, interactive and affectionate Ratty-rats have all had very short lives, while Hazel Nutt gives every indication that she will outlive us all. And possibly our patience is paying off... she did let me pet her for a fraction of a millisecond this week. It was a first.

This is her regular pet shop food mix. But. Hazel is a true gourmand. A connoisseur of fine dining. A foodie, through and through. Our pleasure in having her around is in bringing her tiny trays {jelly jar lids} laden with unique meals... salads, soup, stuffing, a smidge of scrambled egg, with cheese, and a grape. Slivered almonds, a wedge of apple, a tip of banana. We garnish. We flourish. We serve with an eye toward aesthetic and culinary pleasure, and she loves it... all of it. Oatmeal with raisins. The end of a banana. Mixed nuts. Cheese enchilada. Homemade croutons. Arroz con frijoles. A teeny rat serving of taco platter... vegetarian. No chocolates, or other forbidden foods. She watches us, beady eyes glistening in anticipation, and when we serve her the custom feast she greets us with open arms and ravenous gratitude. {Frankly, it's like sticking your hand into a lion's den... a bit unnerving!}

She takes the bamboo and lavender into her barn and builds a nest. She climbs the boards I added to her birdhouse palace, and watches us from high on her perch. And she nibble-gnaws on hazel nuts, her signature treat. She's no chicken, and we've all had to learn to get along with her, and appreciate her true heart's desire, while watching our fingers. Ah, but we love her... for some reason, we love Hazel Nutt, our shy and nibbly ratty rat.

{You see, Zan, her adventures are few, but deeply felt.}

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

The very first photo is my favorite, and seems to capture her story; waiting, protected, hiding, shy, with paws poised waiting to see what deliciousness is about to be delivered.