I have two little guinea pigs.
One we bought as a replacement for a pet who passed along, in old age. The other was a gift to me, on my birthday.
The first thing that happens, when I wake up in the mornings, is that I check my watch or my phone for the time, try to remember what day it is, what happens this day, what happened yesterday. Then I morning-foggy-brain through a decade of the rosary, for seminarians, men being formed for ministry. Then I get out of bed, pushing back my blankets, feet dancing around the things I have left scattered on the hardwood floor.
My door sticks, it’s a little too tight for its frame. As soon as it opens, the boy-pig, Franklin, calls out a shrill, singular shriek, followed by little, happy squeaks, ready for his food.
I use my bathroom, brush my teeth.
Then I greet them both, two little pigs. I tell them that it is a good morning, maybe a sunny day. They make their happy little grunts, hopping around their cages and around their food bowls.
They each get a half-cup of food and a handful of hay. Franklin prefers the hay, and he calls for it until I pile it on the top of his little home. Kiwi likes to get her rump scratched in the morning, and she purrs a little purr when I oblige. Every morning.
Guinea pigs are remnants of an earlier life of ours, when we were all children and my mom didn’t want a dog. Guinea pigs are pets for kindergartners, really, little social animals that don’t require much besides attention and food.
I once read an article, and the origin escapes me–was it a religious article? Secular? Poetry?
The article said that each of us has things, like anchors, that tie us to the planet. Mine are two little piglets, one black, and one brown.
I’m required to clean their cages once a week, add pellets and wood-chips to my budget, take them to get their nails trimmed every few weeks.
In the evenings, when I get home from work, often when it is now dark out, I go out to the yard, where my mom has placed them in their outdoor pen. They have an outdoor pen so they can eat grass and feel the sunlight. Only, often, when I get home, the sun has already set.
They come to the edge of the pen, calling. I take them back inside, feed them greens, tell them they are cute and soft piggies.
Then I make my way back to the tight-door-frame room, and go to bed.
Tomorrow, I will do this again.