I should have known it was coming.
After about a week one or the other of us being too sick to play, and when Vesper didn’t wake up until I was on my way to bed Monday night and so didn’t get any playtime whatsoever, I expected her to be full of energy Tuesday afternoon.
What I didn’t expect was a maniacal bad mood that kept her running hell-bent on mischief for the entire four hours she was awake.
She tried obsessively to burrow into the closed wall behind her cage, jangling it until I thought I would go crazy. She pulled every DVD off the shelf – a particular annoyance she hasn’t done in a long time. She somehow tag-teamed with Alaska to pee on my floor, one right after the other so that I cleaned up one puddle just in time to clean up the next one.
She scratched at every door, in case her pound-and-a-half of frustration could move it. She dogged my footsteps, drank from JJ’s water glass, tried to run off with the trash bag of used tissues by his days-long post on the couch.
If she wasn’t doing anything else, she was running laps from one door to the next just in case we left one open.
A perfect day to break out the new tunnel system my 3-year-old sister, who thinks Alaska is the fuzzy white “baby ferret” she met a year ago, not a state, gave us for Christmas.
Even better? I’d found it on my front porch that afternoon, all taped up and shipped from Texas since there was no way we could it fit it in our suitcases to bring home.
Dinner dishes forgotten on the counter, I sliced at layers of packing tape and dumped halves of plastic tubes out on the floor, scattering the plastic bags they were packed in. Alaska dove for cover (she’s the scaredy-ferret, through and through). Vesper stopped digging at the wall for a moment.
When the tubes didn’t come after her or show any other inclination for sudden noises, Alaska crept back, body low to the floor, tense. She watched me put them together, then found the plastic bags. Alaska is the gentle ferret, rarely causing trouble, a bit fat and ever so soft. She lets Vesper abuse her, though she’s got a number of ounces on her, and when she’s bored, she goes to sleep instead of digging at walls.
But she loves plastic bags. She loves anything that crinkles when she grabs it or bites it. She likes to hide them, or roll in them, or dance with the open-mouth war dance of her wilder relatives.
So a box full of plastic bags all bunched up? Even loud noises and unfamiliar tunnel pieces were forgotten in this heaven that brought forth every obsessive tendency she has.
Vesper, jealous as always when I talk to Alaska, left her digging activities and came around the corner to see. She sniffed the tunnels – but the plastic bags!
Both burrowed into box, pushing plastic bags out behind them. Alaska hid one behind the television stand – her favorite treasure-hiding spot – then came back for more. After the initial sniff, both ignored the tunnel pieces I had assembled.
Finally, I packed the plastic bags back into box, stood it upright, and showed them the tunnel. Alaska was mildly interested; Vesper went back to digging at the wall.
I miscalculated. I should have chased them away from the tunnel, put it just barely in reach, let them play with the plastic bags; then Vesper in her contrary-ness would want only it; and Alaska, who tags along just behind Vesper until Vesper turns on her and chases her across the room, would follow.
So I gave up. They spent most of that night playing in those plastic bags. They ran deep into the box, poked heads back out to see if the other was coming, then retreated again. They attacked a bag that rustled as they passed; carried them off triumphantly; came back for more.
Eventually they found the tunnel (after I got smart and put a plastic bag in it). And Wednesday morning they ran in and out of it, neither willing to give to the other, both defending the narrow passageways. Alaska can just barely fold her round body in half to turn around in it; Vesper makes the hairpin moves easily.
So Olivia – Vesper and Alaska say thank you for the tunnels, and can we please have more plastic bags? They’re the best.