There's the saying that we should "pay attention to the signs." And then there are young children like my son, who are fascinated by the familiar, yet not always recognizable squiggles, lines, and edges written on an actual sign.
Two weeks ago, as we were driving past the lake by our house, Kingston pointed at a sign and asked, "What that say?"
This was one of several large yellow posters placed high up on telephone poles in the near vicinity. I'd seen them but hadn't given them much thought once I'd driven past.
I explained to Kingston that the sign in front of us was for a lost dog. Someone, maybe a family, had lost their chihuahua. Of course, I then had to explain what a chihuahua was, since he had never met one.
Over the following days, he became fascinated by the idea that a little black dog cherished by someone was gone, and that there was a person, perhaps an entire family, searching for it.
He entered into this thought with the innate enthusiasm that is common to most three-and-a-half-year olds. For instance, he began to make up songs about the chihuahua and sing them loudly, not caring one iota where we were -- next to the dog treat section of Trader Joe's, in the library, at the park. Every version naturally included a rousing chorus that went, "Lost chihuahua, where are you?" (repeat at least twice)
Then, a day or two after his musical efforts began, Kingston informed us that he was a dog and that we should call him not by his given name, but by "Dog." As in, "Good boy, Dog," which we should say as we patted him on the head.
Bedtime was also overtaken by the lost chihuahua, as together we wove ever-more elaborate tales about the poor, lost dog who was heartbroken over his separation from his beloved family, especially the boy who would snuggle with him every night in bed. How he missed his boy!
Such enthusiasm. What was it all about? What did it mean?
Then last week, I was reading Maria Popova's wonderful, Brain Pickings, which featured a piece on the writer, Neil Gaiman. His insight on stories about animals and why children are drawn to them, resonated with me:
Other people exist. There's somebody else like us. What Mr. Gaiman posits seems absolutely spot on.
I can't help but think of Kingston's fascination with the lost dog and the way he has taken to calling it the "poor, poor chihuahua."
What if we could see the world as children again? Would we foster more empathy within ourselves if, as adults, we regularly practiced being a horse, a cat, or even...a black chihuahua? Would we end up being more loving, more fully realized human beings?
Could be. I say we give it a try.
The Lost Chihuahua
My own imagination took over as I tried to think more about the chihuahua as a child might. The poor dog, separated from the people it loved needed a bit of comfort. Silly as this might sound, I thought it might like a cocktail to soothe its frazzled frou-frou soul.
I thought it might find something bubbly like prosecco a suitable choice. Prosecco mixed with something fruity, maybe since it was living in this (our hippie) town, something "alive," possibly fermented. Maybe it would like a touch of an herb, say, a sprig or two of mint.
This is how the Lost Chihuahua was found in the form of the perfect summer drink. While you are enjoying this light and fizzy beverage, don't forget to make a toast to the real lost chihuahua. Cheers!
Makes two drinks.
1/4 cup, homemade berry shrub (or substitute a purchased berry kombucha)
1 1/2 cups (14 oz.) Prosecco
two sprigs of mint, for garnish
a few berries of your choice, for garnish (I used alpine strawberries from my backyard)
Pour half the shrub into each double-rocks glass already filled with ice. Add half the Prosecco to one glass, then the other half to the next glass. Give each drink a stir. Garnish with sprigs of mint and berries. That's it!