Friday, February 11, 2011

Just the Facts with Silke Juppenlatz

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I’ll try not to bore you with facts, but hey... it is called “Just the Facts”, so there. I’m going to shake things up a little, and only tell you one fact about me. It’s a funny one, though, and I’ll elaborate. I hope you enjoy it.

We used to be owned by two hedgehogs.
Fritzle and Mäxle.
This is really more their story, than mine.
Fritzle ended up with us when my dad saw a hedgehog run back and forth on the Autobahn, across three lanes, managing through some miracle not to be flattened by an oncoming Mercedes.
Naturally, the creature had to be rescued. Out of the car he gets, and manages through some miracle not to be flattened by an oncoming Mercedes—while chasing a damned hedgehog across three lanes of the Autobahn!!!
My mother was not amused. (About the flea-riddled hedgehog.)
Neither was the dog. (About the preemptive flea-busting dust jobbie)
My dad wisely kept the part about him chasing the thing across a highway, with vehicles travelling in excess of 110mph, to himself! (He accidentally let that part slip when we talked about the hedgehogs a few years later.)

Mäxle was a less dramatic affair.
I worked as an apprentice horse breeder at the time and saw my boss round the corner carrying a spade. I turned the corner just before he would have killed a very small hedgehog. I stopped him, and said I’d take it home. 

Easier said than done. Ever tried transporting a round spiky thing on a motorcycle? I had no bags, no rucksack, nothing. So I stuck the hedgehog under my leather jacket and rode home, very, verywriggling, thing stuck to my chest.
conscious of the fact I have a round, spiky,

My mother was not amused.
Neither was the dog.

Wuschel probably considered abandoning these idiot humans the very second he saw the flea powder come out of the cupboard. There was a distinct “Oh, no. Not again!” expression on his face—followed by a “Could you peel that for me?” look when he saw the hedgehog.
It was October, and each of them weighed in at not-enough-to-hibernate. 250 grams, I think. They were both tiny, so they couldn’t go back out, and wintered in our apartment.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal. Even ones who aren’t much bigger than an orange, when rolled up.
I didn’t get much sleep that winter, especially not once they discovered the “joys” of sticking their spikes up, and having a race underneath some aluminium shelving in my bedroom! (There was one of those string curtain things, no door. No way to keep them out.)
The first night they did this, I swear my hair went gray. I was sleeping, quite unaware of inquisitive nocturnal hoodlums, and all of a sudden: Kchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
I shot upright, half asleep, trying to work out what the HELL that noise was.
Kchhhhhhhhhhhhhhh one way. Kchhhhhhhhhhhh the other way. Rinse, repeat.
Try working that out, at Oh-my-God Thirty in the morning. I turned the light on. The noise stopped. I turned the light off. Kchhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Light on. Silence. Light off—you get the idea.
Eventually I worked up the nerve to get up and investigate—and found two innocent looking hedgehogs at one end of the shelving. I tried to pull them out. Yeah. Right. Spikes out, roll into ball—it’s like trying to pull super glued Velcro off your carpet. Not a chance.
I went back to bed and pulled a pillow over my head.
For hours.
That spade suddenly looked like an attractive solution to the problem, you know?
Their nocturnal antics aside, Fritzle and Mäxle (who turned out to be a girl) were part of the family. They had their own dinner cooked for them (mincemeat and egg, mostly), and became quite tame. So tame in fact, that you had to watch where you put your head on the sofa, because one of them usually sprawled on the back rest, watching TV. (I am NOT kidding.) 

We learned a lot while they owned us:
You can stroke a hedgehog (just don’t do it backward, that hurts.) and they like it.
Socks are fair game, and for chewing on. Even if the human still wears them.
If the human is eating it, it must be hedgehog food, and is therefore also fair game.
That footprint in the butter means a hedgehog is in the fridge. Check the bottom shelf.
If you take a shower and leave a hedgehog sized gap in the door—watch where you put your feet.
Everything is edible. Including telephone cables.
Going to sleep inside a riding boot is hilarious when the human’s foot finds you curled up in the toe part.
It was open warfare between the hedgehogs and the dog. The hedgehogs usually won, and Wuschel would slink by with his “Peel them already!” expression, when they’d gone to sleep in his basket, under his favorite blanket, again. (Ouch.)
Spring came and with it the time to release the two of them in a safe place. We had a big field where we kept my horses, and that’s where we let them go. (I think the dog threw a party that day.)
A few years later, I’d just “imported” Paul from the UK, I wanted to show him the big cherry tree we had in the field. We’d sold the field since, so we climbed the fence and wandered around. A noise under one of the sheds made us wonder what’s there.
I saw a hedgehog’s face. Then another. I called the names, never expecting them to actually come out—and they came. Both of them. Paul stood there, his jaw slack, watching these two wild animals lie down and stretch out, while I stroked them.
I explained to him who they were, and he (and I) was completely amazed that they remembered—and even more so, when they let him stroke them.
That was the last time I saw them, but it was an incredibly unexpected (and welcome) surprise.
Never mind that one of them chewed through my shoe lace while I wasn’t watching.


Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh my gosh, what a cute story!! I love that they remembered you!!

Anonymous said...

I love this story. :)

Nina Croft said...

Awww - I love hedgehogs!

Moira said...

What a great story Silke! Thanks for sharing a memory from your childhood with us.

Silke said...

LOL not quite my childhood, Moira. :)
This happened when I was about 18 and riding a motorcycle to work every day. (I didn't have a car license until I was 35...didn't need one.)
And yes, I was pretty amazed they remembered. So was my SO!

Maureen said...

Oh, man. This so needs to be a kid's book! I can just imagine the illustrations!

P. Kirby said...

What a delightful story!

I think I love your dad for risking life and limb for such a little creature. Though, I can see why your mom (and the dog) were not amused.

We don't have hedgehogs in the American desert southwest. Just cottontail rabbits. I did have one of those--rescued by my father--as a pet. She was adorable and meaner than a demon. I guess you have to be fierce if you're on everyone's menu (and lack spines).

Thanks for the great story. :)

Clarissa Yip said...

Lol. You never fail to give me a laugh. Very cute!

Silke said...

@ P Kirby - He's a very lovable guy ;) Taught me to read, yanno?

@ Maureen - I can't write kids stories to save my life lol!

@ Clarissa - *bow* Glad you got a chuckle outta that. :)

JoAnne Kenrick said...

such a cute story, thanks for sharing!

Deena said...

I got one thing to say... Awwwwww! Okay, now have more to say. What an amazing and heartwarming story. I will be sharing this with Eldest since she keeps sayiong she wants a hedgehog for a pet.

Kathleen said...

How cute, Silke! I have to tell my grandsons about Fritzle and Maxie. Thanks for sharing your story.

JM said...

ROFLMAO! I love hedghogs, but they gave me one of the worst scares in my life. I came across one in an abandoned Dresden cemetary at night when I was an exchange student, and it took ten years off my life. He was really cute though, and I thin I scared him just as much.
Great story. It's wonderful that they remembered you.

Anonymous said...

Silke, thanks for sharing that fun story with us. SO sweet! And you tell it so very well.


LJ DeLeon said...

This is a delightful story. I can see why your mother and the dog were put out. And yes, they are cute, but not something you want under your house. As you said, they'll eat anything.