Late-Night Encounter

The other night, when the moon was just full, the beagle and I were on a walk later than usual. Bell suddenly stiffened into a point. A shadow creeping slowly along a neighbor's low wall revealed itself to be—an armadillo. Small, unbelievably humped and armored like a crouching bandit. And so they are, in a way. They burrow into the underground homes of ants and grubs and eat the inhabitants.

Odder still, knowing that they aren't, like the cuter squirrels, after my bulbs and my lemon and orange nubs, I still see them as vaguely ominous, or even outlandish, like creatures from the past or a distant galaxy–the galaxy of past Earth, where they have survived as a representative of the superorder Xenarthra (which even sounds otherworldly, doesn't it?, which includes anteaters and once included the now-extinct giant sloths.

How do they get across large bodies of water? They inflate their stomachs with air! Hats off to these ingenious survivors. And a hex on those who burrow in my yard!

This little one trundled across the street to resume its solitary nighttime hunt. Beagle and I relished the rest of our stroll under the full moon, somehow refreshed by this late-night encounter.

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