I think that, at this point, I’ve made it pretty clear that there’s not a lot going on in Arrowtown. This usually doesn’t really bother me, as I have two jobs, upcoming journeys to save for, and no need for the temptation to spend more of my bakery bucks than is absolutely necessary. But there are times when it can be a little frustrating living in such a small, isolated, everything-closes-at-five p.m. kind of town. Say, when you’re folding dozens of fitted sheets at 10:30 on a Tuesday night and you realize you’re in desperate need of cold medicine. Suddenly you’d give anything for five minutes inside the 24-hour CVS on your street corner back in New York, but the best you can hope for is an over-priced cold ‘n flu section at the local convenience store.
And so, the other night, my sinuses flooded and the phlegm rising in my chest, I left Hayley to finish folding the burrito-wonton sheets and stumbled my way down Buckingham Street to Night ‘n Day. Night ‘n Day is sort of a glorified 7-11: it’s the kind of late-night storefront that stocks $8 loaves of bread and $10 boxes of muesli but tends to always be open when the rest of this sleepy town is in bed. Even as I made my way down the road I knew the best I could hope for would probably be a $30 bottle of expired Robitussin, but somehow I was distracted enough that I didn’t quite care. It was the kind of night, you see, where you could actually look up at the sky and see why they call it the Milky Way, and I kept tripping over my too-big ballet flats staring up at the stars.
About halfway down the street, though, I saw something out of the corner of my eye darting across the sidewalk a few feet in front of me. Far from alarming me, it suddenly made me feel oddly at home: I think it’s safe to say you’ve lived in New York for too long when the possible sight of rats scurrying across your path makes you nostalgic. But this little rodent seemed strange – not little at all, in fact, but huge, puffed up, potentially the biggest I’d ever seen.
Not the kind of sighting that would normally warrant closer research, you might think. But actually, I was almost indignant about it. “How can this be?” I thought to myself. “Surely New York has the biggest rats in the world.” And, with that sick point of pride stuck in my head, I crept in closer to investigate. It was only after about a five-second, mutually dumbfounded staring match with this little guy that I realized I happened to have my camera on me:
No, that’s not an overgrown rat. Or an obese mouse. It’s a hedgehog.
Let me put this into perspective for you: in Arrowtown, the creepy-crawly critters that scuttle around in the night, that catch you off guard on dark walks home and then disappear into little hidey holes, are Beatrix Potter characters.
And as for the over-priced cold meds? Well, let’s just say, even the over-the-counter varieties here contain codeine. Which means that the next time I see a hedgehog, I may just try to give it a giant hug.
Well played, New Zealand.