Last fall, my husband Mark and I took our grandson Jackson on a day trip to Lime Rock Park, in Kent, Connecticut. Situated on 350 acres of rolling Berkshire Mountain foothills, it is one of the most picturesque road racing courses in the country. Because of its park setting, spectators are encouraged to tailgate along the grassy hillside. To me, this can only mean one thing - OUT DOOR DRINKING.
What we didn't realize was that their pet policy had changed. Above the entrance gate, in clear view, was a large sign that read "NO DOGS ALLOWED."
Not your average shih-tzu, Miss Lucy is a race car fanatic and a frequent visitor at the Lime Rock track.
Because we didn't want to disappoint Jackson (or piss off our shih-tzu), we did the only thing a bad grandparent could do - we hid Miss Lucy from view.
Once safe inside, we set up our chairs, cooler and blanket in the back corner of the track - then popped open the back hatch of the mini cooper so that Lucy had a clear view of the race from the confines of the car.
A few sips of chardonnay later, Miss Lucy was frolicking freely across the open fields.
"What if we get arrested," worried Jackson.
"We didn't break a law," I assured him.
"Yes we did."
"No, we disobeyed a sign - you can't get arrested for that."
"Yes you can," insisted Jackson.
At the wise age of 9, Jackson was clearly in the right.
"Okay then, we'll tell them she's not a dog."
"Not a dog?" questioned Jackson.
"Yes, she's not a dog. She's a wild animal that scurries around picnic baskets looking for scraps."
"What kind of a wild animal is that?" asked Jackson
"She's a squabbit - half squirrel, half rabbit."
Blatant disregard for the truth, or an exercise in pure imagination?
"There's no such thing," insisted Jackson.
"How do you know?"
"Because its impossible,"
"Anything is possible Jackson"
"But, how could that happen?"
Clearly this kid is too inquisitive for his own good.
"Maybe a squirrel went for a ride on a rabbits back and things got carried away."
"What do you mean?" asked Jackson.
Knowing it's not a grandmothers job to explain the birds and the bees, I kept it clean.
"Well, everyone knows rabbits multiply quickly. Maybe it was dark out, or maybe he didn't eat his carrots and had poor vision."
See, this is a lesson in good nutrition.
"Ya, or maybe he had too much to drink," added Jackson as he nodded at my half empty bottle of wine.
Our day at Lime Rock came and went, and I'm happy to report that nobody got arrested.
This fall, I have the honored pleasure of picking Jackson up from school on days when his Mom needs my help. Yesterday, I could hardly wait for the bell to ring.
"Jackson, quick, get in the car," I insisted.
"Whats up?" asked Jackson.
"I saw a squabbit!"
"WHAT," said Jackson
"AND ... I have proof."
I explained to Jackson that several days ago, Miss Pegged (my coworker in crime) complained about a large black rat running from the office building across the street, to our office. Today I saw it, and it's not a rat - it's a squabbit.
"That's impossible," insisted Jackson
"I told you nothing is impossible."
The proof is in the picture. He's got the face of a squirrel and the body of a rabbit.
"That's a squirrel without a tail," insisted Jackson.
"I thought so to, until I watched him. He hops like a rabbit and he digs and scurries for food like a squirrel."
We spent the rest of the afternoon researching squabbits online. The evidence is out there.
According to some really smart freshman at John Hopkins university...
Rabbits and squirrels share 80% of their DNA. To put this into perspective, humans share 99% of the DNA with chimpanzees, and 33% with Daffodils (yes, like the flowers.) Just because one species shares a majority of their DNA with another does not mean they are reproductively compatible. In fact, what makes a species a species is the concept that a group of individuals are reproductively isolated from other groups of individuals. Rabbits belong to the order of “Lagomorpha,” while squirrels “Rodentia.” Humans, squirrels, and rabbits all differ on the taxonomic level of order. So one can loosely infer that the crossbreeding of rabbits and squirrels is as likely as the cross breeding between human and squirrels, which would be frightening.
(here’s where it gets interesting)
All of these have a probability of next to impossible. Yet, natural selection runs on the chemical and biological impossibilities. It preserves the mutations that are beneficial and increase fitness and builds on sometimes seemingly impossible events and unimaginable mutations. In this way natural selection may be the most creative and innovative force in the entire natural world. Life occurred out of a probability of next to impossible.
To say that Jackson is excited about this recent discovery is an understatement. His mind and his imagination are on fire.
"Everything we see and experience arose from impossibilities Jackson. So, to those who say that a squirrel and a rabbit will never create a squabbit, I say I know what I saw and we have just proved them wrong."
"You're right Nanny," said Jackson, with a gleam in his eyes that would make any grandparent proud, "NOTHING is impossible."
(in case you can't see the little red strip across the bottom - squirrel morphed pictures courtesy of freakingnews.com)