Oh, almost forgot: we caught a hedgehog today.
We were out in the yard raking leaves (okay, I was raking, the boys were sort of goofing around) when Alan suddenly yelled, "Daddy, an eagle!" Or that's what I heard. Of course he said Igel, which is German for hedgehog, but it did make me stare wildly up at the sky for a few moments.
Anyway, there it was, a little gray-brown spiky lump by the side of the plum tree. I sent Alan upstairs to fetch David (Jacob was asleep) and we watched it for a minute. It didn't do anything. So I got the red plastic bucket and very slowly crept up on it. This turned out to be unnecessary; it didn't run or even startle. When I got close it curled up a little, and I was able to scoop it into the bucket easily.
True thing: I've never seen a wild hedgehog before. Well, we don't have them in the US. We have skunks, raccoons, opossums, and porcupines, but no hedgehogs.
Well... it was interesting. They can curl up, you know? And the texture of the spines is pretty neat. David reached into the bucket and touched it readily. Alan was more cautious -- he's heard they have spines, and was wondering if that meant it could sting or such -- but eventually both boys were gently stroking and poking it. The hedgehog just curled up a bit more.
There was the discussion you'd expect: what do they eat? slugs and earthworms (I think) -- and the question of keeping it was raised and vetoed: it's a wild animal, it has a life out here -- and then I tipped it gently back out of the bucket and we went back to raking and swinging on the swing and hanging around.
After a few minutes Alan yelled, "Daddy! It's moving!" And it was. Not in any hurry, mind. (Do hedgehogs ever hurry? They must sometime, right?) It sort of waddled across the back lawn to the big juniper berry bush that grows by the back terrace and disappeared into the leaves.
And that was it. They're not very dramatic animals.