And here’s part two of my wedding anniversary-related posts. This Forces of Nurture column ran in the Democrat-Gazette several years ago.
In it, I recall our honeymoon week at Big Bend National Park, where Hubs valiantly fought off a band of javelinas.
FORCES OF NURTURE
Stinky, snorting beasts turn Hubs into hero
Ever seen a javelina?
They’re peccaries, which, superficially, resemble wild pigs. Javelinas are found in the southwestern portion of the United States, as well as in Central and South America.
They’re rather comical creatures, with stout bodies perched on spindly little legs. I used to giggle when I saw them.
Now I know better.
On April, 30, 2001, the day after Hubs and I wed at Big Bend National Park in Texas, we set up camp down by the Rio Grande.
A sign, bolted to the picnic table, warned us to leave our tent down during the day in order to avoid javelina invasions. If an encounter could not be avoided, the sign offered additional advice: “Do Not Provoke the Javelina !”
Hubs and I cackled.
Until 30 minutes later, when we witnessed a band of javelinas slicing open a standing tent at a nearby site. Horrified, we watched the resourceful creatures make short work of the tent’s contents. They rooted, ravaged and feasted.
Oh well, we thought smugly. We didn’t leave ours up. Things will be fine.
We spent the day hiking. When we returned to the campsite, we saw a German couple circling their devastated tent, clearly puzzled as to what had happened during their absence.
Hubs pulled up next to them. “Javelinas,” he offered helpfully, leaning out the window and pointing.
The Germans, who understood little English, looked puzzled.
“Javelinas,” Hubs repeated. “You know” — he fl uttered his fingers in air-piano fashion — “pigs.”
Of course, javelinas are not pigs, but I kept silent as Hubs and the Germans continued to waggle their fingers at one another.
I’m not sure that the couple ever understood what Hubs said. But by that evening, they had packed up and left, leaving us as the only tent-campers in the area.
That night, Hubs and I ate a leisurely dinner, toasted our nuptials and crawled into our sleeping bags. Sometime around midnight, I smelled something … garbagey.
I heard snuffling. Snorting. And — was that chewing?
Javelinas eat plants. Maybe they’re just grazing?
I poked Hubs in the ribs. “Do you hear that?” I asked. “Mmmm … no …” he mumbled.
More snorting. And that smell.
Suddenly, my side of the tent bulged inward. “Aaiiiieeee!” I shrieked, rolling on top of Hubs. “They’re coming in!”
Hubs grabbed his car keys and started pressing buttons on our pickup’s remote. The horn blared. Headlights flashed. The javelinas scattered.
A half-hour later, they were back.
Snuffling. Snorting. Chewing.
I could hear them surrounding the tent. And then — another jab at my side.
“Eek!” I screamed.
Just then, something crashed from our picnic table. We would later learn it was our box of camping gear. There wasn’t any food in the box — only flashlights, tools, silverware and other supplies.
Hubs leapt to his feet, hair standing wildly on end. He jabbed at the bulge. Then he unzipped the tent and lunged through the opening. There was much shouting and clanging. The horn blared. Headlights flashed on.
I fumbled for my glasses and then peeked outside. My new husband was crouched on top of the picnic table, waving a spatula and cooking tongs at the 10 or so javelinas running amok through our campsite.
“Do not provoke the javelinas!” I yelled, quoting the picnic-table sign.
“What do you want me to do?!” Hubs yelled back as he brandished his tongs. “Pet them?”
Finally, the javelinas trotted off, reasonably certain that the humans at this particular campsite were totally and hopelessly insane.
Hubs clambered down from the picnic table and tried to pick up the pieces of his dignity as I howled with laughter.
“I guess they won’t be coming back here,” he boasted.
He was wrong. After two more sleepless nights involving more horn-blaring and spatulawaving, we fled to a motel.
Since our wedding, we’ve returned to Big Bend each year. Thankfully, due to more careful selection of campsites, Hubs has used the tongs only for grilling.
And I no longer snicker when I spot a javelina.
So happy anniversary, Hubs! And belated thanks for saving me from the smelly wildlife. You wave a mean set of tongs.