Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hannah the Homesick Honu IV

You might have guessed by now that the Honu weren’t behaving so strangely because of anything fishy in the waters of Mokupapapa. No, they had all come there to mate. It often happens that shy creatures without many social skills will act rather foolishly when the spirit of romance catches them in its invisible net. Hannah was lucky to have found a steady turtle like Sam, and Sam was lucky that she knew it. I wouldn’t want to embarrass them or you with the details, but it wasn't long before Hannah had a belly full of eggs and an important new journey to make.

Sea turtles are called sea turtles for a very good reason: they don’t like to be on land. Their shells weigh them down when they’re out of the water, and they struggle to move across the sand. The Honu love to swoop and glide and soar, but on land they can only shuffle inch by awkward inch. Hannah knew other turtles who beached themselves for a good dose of sun when the cold slowed them down, but she had only been ashore once before in her life, when a tiger shark had chased her into a dead end cove. She had glided onto the sand just as its jaws snapped shut behind her. Now she would need to leave the water again.

As the sun set, Hannah made her way to the edge of the known world, where shadows gathered around her. These were other female Honu, all waiting like Hannah for the safety of darkness. When the blue waters had finally faded to black, they let themselves be carried by the breaking waves onto the shore, then began a difficult climb, away from the surf’s edge and toward the light, loose sand a hundred feet further up the beach.

Again and again, Hannah thrust her front flippers as far in front of her as she could, then pressed down with all her strength and dragged her heavy body forward. She seemed to make no progress at all, but she knew she could not quit. She had traveled too far to give up now. She thought of all the new turtle lives she held in her belly, each one closed away in its own private shell, and she pulled herself another five inches up the beach.

At last, Hannah made it to the soft, dry sand that lay beyond the reach of the highest tide. Here her work became harder. There was no rest for the tired flippers that had taken her across the ocean and out of the water she loved: she needed to dig a nest. The sand flew all around her, as a dozen Honu hollowed out big shallow bowls as wide as their own bodies. They used their back flippers to carve narrow burrows into the same quiet dunes where their mothers had nested, and their mothers’ mothers, and their mothers’ mothers before them.

Hannah didn’t have to ask whether her nest was big enough or deep enough. She simply knew. She laid her bright, precious eggs—more than a hundred of them!—in the shelter she had made. Then she covered them carefully with sand. When she was satisfied that she had hidden them well, she looked up to see that all the other mothers were making their slow way back to the water.

Hannah hesitated. Were the Honu really leaving their eggs behind? Would that thin layer of sand be enough to protect them from harm? She wanted to stay. She wanted to cover her nest with her own stony shell and fend off every threat that might come. She wanted to be there on the moonlit night when her babies would hatch and emerge in a tumbling crowd from the sand. She wanted to guide them to the water, through the pounding waves, away from the crabs who might snatch them on land, past the tiger sharks who waited for them in the depths. But she knew she could not.

In that moment’s hesitation, Hannah remembered all the many joys of the Honu life. She had been very frightened when she was a hatchling herself, no more than a mouthful for any hungry bird or fish. She might have wished for some protection then; she might have wished for someone to look out for her like Sam had done when she returned to Mokupapapa. But Hannah had traveled hundreds of miles before she met up with Sam, and she had not been afraid. She would never have learned to be so brave if her own mother had nervously followed her on her first great journey across the open ocean. She would never have learned the pleasure of solitude or the value of quiet. She knew her life was sweeter for the dangers she had faced.

Have a good flight,” Hannah told her sleeping eggs. Then she turned and shuffled back down the slope of the dune, into the welcoming water.

Hannah lingered with Sam at Mokupapapa for many weeks. Three times she returned to the beach. Three times she made a new nest and hid her eggs carefully under the sand. The moon was bright on the night that Hannah dreamed again. In this dream, everything was familiar: the pink coral and the long, swaying grass. She saw once again the strange, peaceful human who had first tickled her curiosity. When she awoke, she could feel her blood humming in her veins.

It’s time for me to go back,” she told Sam.

Would you like company?” he asked. He remained a most gentlemanly turtle.

Thank you, Sam,” Hannah said. “I think I’m good.” She brushed his flipper in farewell and soared out into the boundless blue, on her way home.

Photo by Marc M. Ellis

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hannah the Homesick Honu III

All through the day Hannah swam, and at night she rested. The further she swam, the further the ocean floor dropped away beneath her, and the further she had to dive to find a place to sleep. When she settled on the sand, she became perfectly still, so that you might have thought she was a pretty sort of a rock. Hannah's heart took long breaks between beats, and her blood inched along her veins. There was no hurry—everything was moving in the direction it should.

For a long time, the ocean yawned deeper and emptier than Hannah had ever known it. She took wide detours around a few tiger sharks and marveled at the blue flash of the long, skinny ono who passed her by, but she was as surprised as she was pleased one day to see another turtle swimming right in line with her. In her excitement, she forgot to be shy. “Hello!” she called. “I’m Hannah.”

Sam,” said the other turtle. “A pleasure.” He looked curiously at her, and she was briefly reminded of the funny human.

The same whisper that had sent Hannah into the open ocean now urged her closer to Sam. He was a handsome Honu, his face gentle, his broad shell gleaming brown. “Did you have a dream, too?” Hannah asked him.

Ah,” Sam said. “It’s your first return.”

My first return?” Hannah was puzzled.

To Mokupapapa. Where the silver monk seals swim and the coral grows wide as a ray.”

Yes!” exclaimed Hannah. “That’s the place of my dream.”

You’re headed in the right direction,” Sam told her.

I know,” said Hannah. But she was glad to hear it all the same. “Mokupapapa. What a beautiful name.”

Sam cocked his head in a silent invitation, and Hannah happily joined her journey to his. They swam together for many days. Though Sam rarely spoke, he looked out for Hannah. “Dolphins,” he’d say, and steer her clear of the speeding pod. “Pa`imalau,” he’d say, and point his chin toward the surface, where a glamorous man-of-war draped its long tentacles like a poison curtain across her path. He shrugged off Hannah’s thanks: “Don’t worry about it. You’d do the same for me.” And he was right, she would.

Hannah had been amazed to find Sam in the middle of the open ocean, but every day more turtles appeared. Their deep memory of Mokupapapa pulled them like a magnet through the water—they swam and swam without tiring. On the very day that Hannah had begun to wonder whether they would ever reach their destination, Sam motioned with a flipper toward a shadow in the distance. “Nearly there,” he said.

Hannah awakened from her swimming trance and noticed that the ocean floor was quickly rising to meet them. After miles of blue, a rainbow of corals sprouted before her eyes, alive with fish and urchins and eels. There was the strange flat coral she’d seen in her dream! And there was the silver seal with its smiling round face!

In Hannah’s dream, she’d been alone, but here the Honu crowded around her. That would have been fine if they had behaved with their usual courtesy, but some were downright rude. The closer Hannah and Sam got to where the reef broke the skin of the water, the more frequently a strange male tried to swim between them. “Back off,” Sam would say.

They'd ignore him and slide in close to Hannah. “Come fly with me” was about the nicest thing she heard from any of them.

You can do better, baby,” said one, but she didn’t think so.

Another told her, “You gotta be cracked, knocking shells with this guy.”

Hannah gave him a hard nip, surprising herself.

Ow, hey!” he cried. “You don’t gotta be like that.”

Get a life, leatherback,” Hannah replied. She saw Sam smiling. “Go chew barnacles for all I care.”

Whatevs,” said the tactless turtle before he swam off. “You two deserve each other.”

Yeah, maybe we do,” said Sam. Hannah smiled back at him.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hannah the Homesick Honu II

Over the next few days, something changed in Hannah, and she wasn’t sure whether the human was to blame. She felt a tickle inside—sometimes in her head, other times near her heart. In her head, it was like a teasing whisper whose words she could never make out, even if she nestled under a soft layer of sand and lay perfectly still on the ocean floor, listening. When she swam, the tickle left her head and moved through her blood. It danced and skipped around her pulse. Everything in Hannah seemed to quicken to this new double rhythm, so that she found herself rising more frequently to the surface to take in a fresh lungful of air.

Unexpectedly, too, Hannah’s appetite grew. She didn’t stop to savor every mouthful of sea grass the way she always had—as soon as she’d taken one bite, she was already thinking about the next. For the first time that she could remember, Hannah felt something pushing her out of the moment she lived in and knew, felt it nudging her toward... what? She had no idea, she only knew that she needed to find a new patch of grass. She’d munched this one almost down to the sand, and she wasn’t even close to full.

When Hannah decided to move on, she noticed another strange thing. She knew that she would find the best and most tender grass on the other side of the reef to her right, but when she turned toward it the water seemed to press her back. The tickle in her head made an ugly buzzing, but as soon as she turned to swim in the opposite direction, it quieted to a lovely low hum. This happened many times, until Hannah no longer knew where she was. She didn’t understand how she had wandered so far, but she wasn’t afraid. That seemed strange, too. She didn’t recognize the surrounding coral and rock, and she didn’t recognize herself. What had changed?

Now, maybe you’re wondering why Hannah didn’t stop to ask another turtle what was going on. It’s a very good question, and I hope you won’t find the answer silly. The Honu, as I mentioned, are extremely polite. They are also terribly shy. It’s hard to say which came first, the politeness or the shyness, but because they like their peace and quiet so much, they really hate to be a bother to anyone else. On the rare occasions that Honu try to converse, they spend so long clearing their throats and apologizing that they often forget what they wanted to say. A typical exchange might go like this:

Horace the Honu quietly coughs, “Um, so. Hm.”

Hannibal the Honu lifts his head in surprise. “Whassup?”

Horace sees that Hannibal is eating. “Oh, dude, I’m sorry,” he says. “I’ll come back after lunch.”

“No, man, stay,” replies Hannibal. “It’s a way tasty tuft. You should have some. Please.”

“Ah, I couldn’t, really. I had a crazy big breakfast, couldn’t eat another bite.”

Hannibal insists, “Come on, just a nibble, man.”

Horace snips off a few blades with his beaky mouth and delicately munches. “Sweet.”

“I told you, right?” Hannibal takes another bite. He chews contentedly with Horace.

Horace coughs again. “Um yeah, so.”

“Something you need, friend?” Hannibal asks. “Just say the word.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Horace tries to remember. “I mean there was. I don’t know.”

Hannibal shrugs. “It’ll come back to you. Or not. Meantime, there’s plenty of grass if you just want to chill.”

The Honu like nothing better than chilling—except when they get a tickle in their blood and they begin to wonder why. One night a dream gave Hannah something new to wonder about. She dreamt of a beautiful place where butterfly fish fluttered and silver monk seals somersaulted through brilliant blue waters. She dreamt of angelfish with sunbright faces, of corals that fanned out flat and wide as manta rays.

When Hannah woke from her dream, she wasn’t hungry anymore. She didn’t want to eat, she only wanted to swim. She had to find her way back to the place of her dream. She knew she’d been there before. That was what the tickle had been telling her all along: it was time to go home.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I've begun writing a series of stories for "middle readers" (the artificial segmentation of kids' reading experience seems silly to me and possibly pernicious, but whatchya gonna do?). They're stories with talking animals, which aren't supposed to interest "middle readers," but I forge mulishly ahead. Here's the beginning of the tale now in progress...

Hannah the Homesick Honu

Like every other green sea turtle she knew, Hannah tried to swim clear of trouble. "Live and let live" had been the Honu way forever, and if trouble seemed to find the Honu more often these days than it had in the past, that gave them all the more reason to love their peace and quiet. Once in a long while, a tiff would break out between two turtles over an especially tender patch of sea grass, but it rarely amounted to more than a nipped flipper and an hour's sulk before everything was right as Hawaiian rain.

Hannah had been hatched knowing that a little distance makes it much easier to be polite. Three feet is good, ten feet even better. Once she found a free spot to lunch, she munched her grass bite by slow bite, enjoying its coarse texture and bright flavor as much as if she had never tasted it before in her life. In fact, she'd been eating the same thing for years, too many years to count. Why bother counting, thought Hannah, when the sun reached through the water and laid its warm hand on her shell? Why count years, or days, or moments, when just now the grass swayed and danced, flickering from gold to green, green to gold, and back again?

A pleasant tingle at the outer edge of her flippers told Hannah to rise from her meal. She swept effortlessly to the surface and popped her head out of the water's embrace, into the thin air. She opened her nostrils and filled her lungs in one great breath. If she'd been counting, she would have known that this took her only a second, but that was enough for her to catch sight of another head bobbing above the water, a head that did not belong to a turtle.

During the course of her uncounted years, Hannah had encountered many of the strange, peeled creatures known as humans. They looked to her like overgrown clams without shells, or octopuses with half the limbs and none of the grace or smarts. Most of them splashed noisily at the surface—Hannah thought they might be trying to swim, but they never got much of anywhere.

In Hannah’s experience, humans did not understand that distance was the better part of good manners. Unlike the Honu, they seemed to love trouble. They chased fish for fun, poked the soft bellies of anemones, and lifted rocks without any thought for the privacy or comfort of the creatures underneath. Worst of all, if Hannah ever let them close, they reached out their long arms with the starlike grabby ends and tried to touch her, sometimes even to hold on to her flipper or shell. Just thinking about it made her panicky.

For all these reasons, Hannah carefully avoided humans, and she didn’t understand at first how this one had surprised her. Then she realized that it was quiet. It didn’t thrash or splash; it dived down through the water almost as easily as she did, but it didn’t swim any closer. She could see its curious eyes peering at her from behind the funny cover it wore over its face.

Hannah felt curious, too. Was this really a human, or a gentler something she’d never met before? Before her fear could stop her, she swam toward it. Not too close—she knew how far those arms could reach—but close enough to admire the tendrils of moss that waved in the water around the creature’s head. It definitely looked like a human, but it didn’t act like one. It made Hannah wonder, and she’d never really wondered before.

When the new human rose back to the surface, Hannah followed it, even though she still had plenty of breath in her lungs. With the moss now slicked flat over its head, the human inhaled sharply through its mouth. It made a series of soft, musical sounds, looking at Hannah all the while. Then, wonderfully, it swam away.

Photo by Hugh, husbandry volunteer at the Aquarium of the Pacific

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Even on a day when ninety-five degree temperatures have me and the dogs hiding inside with the shades drawn, I want to give a shout out to the glories of sunlight. It's been dealt an unfairly bad rap in the last few decades, and I say this despite the fact that my mom nearly lost her life to melanoma.

I've been reading a terrific book by Spencer Wells, Explorer-in-Residence (there's a great oxymoron) at the National Geographic Society and point man for the "Genographic Project," whose given mission is to map the early demographic expansion of homo sapiens through analysis of contemporary DNA. In Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization, Spencer considers the many ways that our very recent (by anthropological standards) cultural transition from semi-nomadic hunting and gathering to settled agriculture has reverberated in our health and the health of the planet. The idea that we are living at odds with our genetic heritage is not a new one, but like Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Spencer has genuinely original and evocative insights into this disconnect. (His focus is much broader, his evidence less exhaustive, but he's admirably coherent and generally careful not to overreach. His chapter on climate change is the only one I found thin and comparatively rote.)

Early in the book, Wells recounts an exchange with Jonathan Pritchard, an evolutionary geneticist who's been analyzing recent flux in the human genome, functional "hot spots" on the chromosome where change has been unusually sudden, suggesting dire environmental pressure and a corresponding urgency in our adaptation. According to Pritchard, the most dramatic metamorphoses in recent millennia (he's focused on the last ten thousand years) have involved the genes controlling pigmentation. As Wells notes, this doesn't come as much of a surprise; pigmentation is the most obvious of the differences that mark us out from each other, obvious enough that it unfortunately obscures how recently and closely we are all related.

For Wells, it is simply confirmation of the known, and "consistent with what anthropologists had long argued: that humans evolved originally in Africa with dark skin. It was only as we moved out of the tropics and into higher latitudes, with their lower levels of ultraviolet light, that we had to lose some of our dark pigmentation in order to allow the deeper layers of our skin to synthesize enough vitamin D-- something they only do when exposed to enough UV light. The reason Europeans have pale skin-- and part of the reason some of us have fair hair-- is that our ancient ancestors needed to make enough vitamin D for their bones to survive the rigors of northern life thousands of years ago."

Old news, as he says. And yet this ho-hum observation seems only in the last few years to have trickled over into considerations of UV light and human health. Even Wells himself makes offhand reference many chapters later to the "myth... of a healthy tan," without acknowledging that it's been replaced by the myth of a healthy pallor (which is potentially much more dangerous). Dermatologists have run amok in their single-minded terror of cancer and other less threatening forms of skin damage. In so doing, they have dismissed as an irrelevance one of the skin's most vital and extraordinary functions: the manufacture of vitamin D, which supports much more than the health of our bones. Maladies as diverse as arthritis and autism may be caused in part by vitamin D deficiencies. Their incidence skyrockets as we slather ourselves in sunscreen. (And that sunscreen is itself potentially carcinogenic. When? Wait for it... when interacting with strong sunlight! That, my dear Alanis, is ironic.) Likewise, the racial health gap, while no doubt exacerbated by socioeconomic stratification, may persist in part due to the excess of protection that dark skin provides at high latitude.

Medical research remains inconclusive on many of these repercussions, but the genomic record makes it plain: we need the sun. We got rid of pigment at an evolutionary sprint as we moved north-- not because it's generally good to be white, but because we depend so heavily on the agency of ultraviolet light.

Granted, with a longer average life span comes a higher risk of troublesome or fatal damage to the glorious and hardworking organ that "covers me from head to toe, except a couple tiny holes and openings" (thanks, David Byrne), and this should teach us moderation in UV exposure as in all things. Our increased mobility as a species also means that many people of varying colors are living at latitudes ill-matched to their pigmentation. But my instincts as a phototropic San Diego kid were basically sound (and need to be honored more consciously now that I've migrated north): I love the sun and the sun loves me. At least a little.

P.S. I had always assumed that our production of vitamin D operated on a kind of "pay as you go" economy: whatever you got on a given day, or maybe week, would have to be used pretty much immediately, or it would somehow decay (or be filtered out by the kidneys like the excess vitamins we take as supplements that turn our pee a violent shade of green). But I've recently read (in secondhand sources whose reliability is open to question) that, in climes with big seasonal variations in usable UV radiation, we stock up in the summer for our supply in the winter, when the sun is too low to do us any but psychological good.

Only about five more weeks 'til the fall equinox, my brethren and sistren (pink and brown!), so get that sunlight while you can! Just think of it as a fine whiskey, served neat-- sip and savor.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Inessential pleasure

From an interest in behavior modification and positive reinforcement naturally follows an interest in the origins and workings of pleasure, so I had really been looking forward to reading a new book by the Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like. I mention his fancy pedigree because it serves to demonstrate his central thesis: through evolutionary advantage or accident, we ascribe value to things and derive pleasure from them according to the invisible essences with which we imagine they are endowed by their histories or identities. (Bloom seems to favor but never commits to an accidental account, wherein this "essentialism" is inessential to our survival, the kind of non-structural element in our genetic blueprint that Stephen Jay Gould would have called a spandrel.)

Bloom writes persuasively of art forgery and celebrity auctions, noting how many millions more a Picasso will fetch than a "Picasso," no matter how beautifully the fake may be executed, and observing that the value of a shirt worn by Elvis will plunge if it is washed. I must concede his point when I note the wild discrepancy between the sloppiness of his broader argument and its respectful (in some quarters glowing) reception. It seems clear evidence of the power of the Yale essence to short-circuit critical judgment.

I don't like to be harsh, but Bloom promises so much more than he delivers. His subtitle is especially misleading, when the book's scientific morsels are so few and so poorly digested. My disappointment became outright exasperation when I came to his discussion of fiction and the pleasures of virtual pain. Even as he takes on a subject that urgently requires subtlety and a fine blade, his wits are blunted for a stage fight. In the absence of any concrete evidence, he argues that the pleasure we take from fiction arises primarily (essentially) from our awareness of its artifice, our appreciation of the fact that it was constructed (for our pleasure) by some guiding intelligence.

This logic is maddeningly circular and falls to pieces as soon as one considers the ubiquity of crummy fictions. If a play or novel or film fails to please me, I am pained to think of the effort involved in creating it. Furthermore, if I am swept up in a story, nothing is more likely to spoil the fun than a gratuitous flourish of virtuosity, one that clips the guy wires suspending my disbelief. (Bloom acknowledges this danger but almost immediately dismisses it.) Yes, the critic and the expert have their own modes of enjoyment, and these may be richer than anything the unschooled can know, but surely they are incidental to the main current of pleasure in fiction, and not the other way around.

Thus Bloom dodges the question-- he speaks of creative virtuosity without asking what it is. How does William Shakespeare, or Jane Austen, or Buster Keaton delight an audience? By what means do they make us their instruments and play upon our frets so masterfully?

Here's a typical feint. In his chapter titled "Safety and Pain," Bloom examines "the classic guy-slips-on-a-banana-peel scenario." He writes, "This can be funny, particularly if you haven't seen it a thousand times and if the actor is skilled at conveying his surprise. But the same situation is not typically funny in real life. I spent much of my life in Montreal and I've seen many people tumble on ice on city streets. Onlookers wince or they reach to help, or they turn away, but they typically don't laugh. This is funny in fiction, not in real life." He notes the relevance of an actor's skill, but that doesn't dent his conviction that the humor here derives from the dislocation of slapstick from reality. He doesn't consider the possibility that they just don't know how to fall funny in Montreal.

I'd offer two counterexamples, one from each side of the fictional divide. More than twenty years ago (yikes), I was walking across my college campus on the first day back from summer break. The sound of my name drew my attention down the street to my right: my good friend Sven was gliding toward me on his skateboard. "Sven!" I exclaimed with a smile, then walked directly into an enormous, hollow lamppost. It resounded beautifully as a gong and left me flat on my back. I looked up to find Sven caught between horror and hilarity, unable to stop laughing even as he asked me if I was alright. I had to laugh too. The timing, the surprise, the social embarrassment, the weird beauty of the music we made together, the lamppost and I-- all these things contributed to the joke. But it owed nothing to fiction, as my aching head attested.

On the virtuosically constructed side, there's a "classic guy-slips-on-a-banana-peel scenario" in Buster Keaton's movie Sherlock Holmes, Jr. that I will never tire of watching, because it marries grace so delightfully with mishap. I did not stop laughing after I learned that Keaton literally broke his neck performing the stunt, though my pleasure in it became complicated by wonder and a sympathetic wince.

In short, the "essentialism" that Bloom describes seems an interesting epiphenomenon, but an unpersuasive candidate for the source of our deepest pleasures.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Special 'ops

Planche à Grief

On Monday, we lost our lovely nut of a kitten, Hopkins. She was hit by a car just twenty feet up the road from home. I've been trying to focus on everything that could have been much worse. She went very quickly, and she breathed her last while we held her close. It took more than a little courage for the two women in the car to come to our door (our neighbor Chuck told them which it was) and deliver the awful news. I don't know whether it was the driver or passenger who told us, "I think your cat's been hit. I'm so sorry." I don't want to know whether the one who was driving was speeding or distracted, because that knowledge might cloud other knowledge. Here's what I do know: she felt terrible, and it could easily have been me in her shoes (or seat).

Hops lived dangerously, as Pete and I allowed her to do. She was mostly smart about cars, but sometimes lounged and rolled in the middle of the sun-warmed street. She tussled with other cats, eluded coyotes, and once backed a raccoon out of her favorite tree. The implicit contract that we made with her a little more than eight years ago had a safety waiver and innumerable "roaming charges" in the fine print. She loved her freedom, and we loved for her to have it, but we knew that we made an irresponsible choice when we let her come and go at will. Irresponsible with regard to her safety, the safety of neighborhood songbirds, and the purity of the local watershed. Irresponsible, as it turns out, with regard to a driver who might not have time to stop if she darted across the road. We decided years ago that we'd probably never have another cat, because we couldn't imagine making a different choice. Still we'd hoped against the odds that Hops could sustain her reckless, intrepid ways into a ripe old age. We can't believe she's so suddenly gone.

We laid her on her well-loved scratch pad (her "planche à griffes," chewed up, taped up, fragrant with catnip) and buried her in the front yard. We planted a red-twig dogwood over her grave. We don't think she'd be offended, as she always preferred dogs to cats and looked to Barley as an older sister. Our neighbor Tracy came by with flowers and a cross as we were laying the stones. (Did I mention that we have wonderful neighbors?)

Hopkins' presence will remain vivid in our home for a long time to come. Pazzo will keep running to the window to search for her whenever he hears her name. Pete and I will keep listening for her chirp in the mornings and missing the sweet furry weight of her in the evenings.

What is a lap for if not for Hops?