Courage at Twilight: Newspaper Elf

During a visit to Gilbert, Arizona to see my sister Jeanette, she took me to a state park near Sedona, high above the desert, with a little trout stream flowing through the pine forest.  On the park lawn grazed a squadron of pig-like creatures called collared peccaries, or javelinas.  I asked a uniformed park ranger about them—he told me javelinas are not pigs at all, but a cross between an old-world swine (which is a pig, I thought) and a new-world raccoon.  I stared at him stupefied, wondering if were joking.  Sadly, he was perfectly serious.  Of course, such a cross is genetically impossible, for the same reasons a dog cannot breed with a cat, or a chicken with a rabbit: impossible.  (Idaho does boast its jackalope, a cross between a jack rabbit and a pronghorn antelope—Google it.)  On another visit, Mom and Dad brought back a life-sized rusted metal javelina that sits quietly on alert, on their front porch.  When the Deseret News stopped its daily circulation, opting for online distribution, Mom and Dad subscribed to the New York Times, which is tossed every day out of a car window onto the driveway.  Leaving the house for work in the morning, I noticed the newspaper, bagged in blue plastic, sitting on the javelina’s snout.  I asked Mom about it, and she whispered simply “newspaper elf.”  Another morning, I saw from my home office window a man crossing the driveway.  Ah, so he must be the newspaper elf.  But on Saturday the newspaper was in the driveway.  “The newspaper elf doesn’t work on weekends,” Mom explained cheerfully.  “We have to go and get it.”

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