Twenty five lemmings a day

A little perspective on parenting and grandparenting if you please! Living with a human toddler for a week has refreshed my memory of the endless demands for food, the seismic upheaval of adult habits, and the often mind-numbing repetition involved in the job of parenting. It could be far worse, though. We could be parenting snowy owl chicks.

Snowy owls have been in the news, causing problems at airports. I caused a little problem myself by walking around to the WRONG side of the conveyor belt to retrieve my scanned belongings in the airport yesterday. My tote trays were behind the large amount of baby equipment required by a young human family, and I didn't want the parents to feel rushed. Those parents had to strap on baby carriers, stuff diaper bags into a stroller and an infant car seat, and put on shoes. Oops. TSA tough ladies escorted me back to my proper place in line, and put a mark on my permanent record.

After a full day with the new wooden train set, the wooden puzzles, the board books, the realistic toy Dirt Devil vacuum, the toy drill, and the basketball hoop a toddler went night-night in his fleece jammy suit. Three adults flopped into chairs and settled on streaming a PBS Nature video about snowy owls and consuming Ghirardelli chocolate squares.

When the mother snowy owl successfully hatched five chicks, the dad was forced to spend every waking hour hunting for lemmings. His search area quickly expanded as his owlets each needed five lemmings per day and the economy was bad. Minimum wage had not been raised for covered, non-exempt snowy owls since 2009, not to mention climate change. He was a seriously stressed father. Sometime the mom got frustrated with his take-home lemmings and had to go hunting herself. She's bigger, but not necessarily more successful, and the unguarded owlets are at risk of being eaten by arctic foxes and polar bears. Being a human is seeming better by the moment!

As a kid in the Sixties I remember a great excitement when we looked out the living room window and saw a huge white owl sitting in one of our snow-covered pine trees. Do snowy owls really show up in Nebraska backyards? It's possible, but the Cornell Ornithology website suggests it was more likely a barn owl. Immature snowies do migrate to the mid-section of the United States to perfect their hunting skills in a less harsh climate than the arctic, but a city sighting isn't likely. Not many lemmings in Lincoln.

This is a Grancy approved train set from KidKraft.

When the parental going gets tough, just wear the train set bucket for an astronaut helmet.

Bonus round:

Recipe for Lemming Meringue Pie

Creepier than that is this National Wildlife Federation recipe for hard-boiled egg snowy owls.

Recipe for Lemmings Leap cocktail

How to make a Lego snowy owl

Arriving home I find no lemmings in my refrigerator, but my youngest owlet and his pals have left some Jubelale, a festive malty celebration brew from Bend, Oregon, with a barred owl on the label. A barred owl brew beats a chilled lemming any day.

Happy 2014 to you, and your hungry owlets, too!

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

seana graham said...

I don't think I've ever met a lemming or a snowy owl either.

Happy New Year to you and all the other owlet watchers.