The Slow-Cooked Sentence

A week of small observations with sons: Living with the wildlife

Rachael Conlin Levy

In which a whale washes ashore and Samuel finds similarities between his sister and a sea otter

The ocean dumped a fin whale on a nearby beach, so after a visit to the zoo, we joined a steady stream of people walking down to the shore to see it. City workers fenced it off as we splashed through the bloody juices that pooled around it. It stank. There was a somber exuberance to the site: Some people brought flowers, dogs wagged and panted, a few stroked the whale’s leather skin, while others joked about ways the city could remove it from the beach. We all hoped there wouldn’t be a repeat of the attempt made with dynamite.

Our favorite animals at the zoo were the large walrus and the six sea otters. For five minutes straight we watched the otters groom themselves. “They’re just like teenage girls,” Sam said.

Author’s note: It’s the school’s spring break, and I’m alone with my three boys. This is a diary of our adventures.

5 responses to “A week of small observations with sons: Living with the wildlife”

  1. Beth says:

    I was hooked by the opening line and fascinated by the different reactions to the whale. I especially liked the flowers bit.

    My sons haven’t had the experience of living with a girl- I wonder if they would have drawn the same conclusions about the otters.

    Enjoy your spring break!

  2. Andrea says:

    Wow…exploding whale blubber…leave it to engineers. Have a fun break!

  3. I enjoy watching otters, wild and captive. They are entertaining creatures. Enjoy your time alone with your boys. I’m sure this is just a sampling of all the memories the four of you are making.

  4. Rachael says:

    Beth, Andrea and Denise, I enjoy mothering boys, though not necessarily solo. For one, I am completely wiped out by 7 p.m., desperate for an excuse to climb into bed for the night.

  5. Beth says:

    I COMPLETELY get this exhaustion, Rachael! And the love behind your efforts in spite of it.

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