Animal Lovers Are Special People

Just as printed on the cover: “A novel of a small town, love, luck, and a pinch of fantasy along with one special fox…”.  Welcome to Fox Crossing (2022) by Melinda Metz came across my reading list just the day after a posting of a fox being spotted in our community.  I just had to read it and share with our neighbors here at Tanglewood.

The setting is definitely “small town”,  the village of Fox Crossing, Maine.  The kind of place were everyone knows everyone.  Not much happens except during season.  That season would be Winter when the skiers and snow enthusiasts arrive.

That small village founded in 1805, is located on the Appalachian Trail.  For decades or longer there have been claims to the sighting of a fox.  What makes the fox unique is it has one white ear and one white paw.  Since it is so unusual, folklore has grown around “The Fox” over the years. Love, happiness, and good fortune to the person who catches a glimpse of this most unusual fox.  Some believe, some do not.

One of the nonbelievers is Annie Hatherly.  That fact is a bit surprising since it was her great-great-grandmother who first eyed The Fox.  Annie works at her family’s store, Hatherly’s Outfitters that has been selling hiking gear for years.  She shares her knowledge about the area, the AP, and even woodpeckers, with all the customers.

It is while Annie is working in the store that she crosses paths with Nick Ferrone, novice trail walker has who plans to start his walk the beginning of the northern rugged 100 Mile Wilderness.  He needs a few items before he attempts the climb.  Annie curtly tells him he is not anywhere near ready to that climb.

Besides Nick, you will to know several other characters.  Shoo Fly and his dog Clarence, Banana who is a year rounder, Chloe, Annie’s best friend since childhood, and of course The Fox are just a few of the characters who are all part of this delightful easy read.  It is a fast, pleasant read and sounds like a place I would like to visit…in the summer.

Next on this pet parade is Hemingway’s Cats (2021) by Lindsey Hooper.  Key West, Hemingway, and Cats.  If you have been to Key West you will know the connection.  If you have not visited the town located at the “Southern Most Point of the U.S.”, you may want to make that trip after reading this entertaining tale.

On the opening pages you will be introduced to the “Father of All Key West”, Rooster.  (Aka Old Faithful or That Damned Bird) as the sun rises each morning.  Following the roosters, the cats, all 54 of them…including but certainly not limited to Nessie, Spinderella, and Larry, Curly, and Mo. Each of these cats and many others are typical of Polydactyl Cats which have six toes.

And then the people characters begin to appear.  Recent college graduate Laura Lange arrives on the scene.  She has come to Key West to work as a tour guide at the Hemingway House and the 54 residents.  It seems Laura was so taken by Key West and Hemingway’s cats while on a family vacation trip several years ago.  Laura even wrote her thesis on Hemingway.

This novel is way more than about cats and Hemingway.  Readers will learn about the history of Key West along with the characters who live on the pages of this tale.

Turns out Laura finds everything about her job a pleasure and adventurous…even the cats. Did I mention the 54 cats?  As she got to know about behind the scenes at the Hemingway house,  the staff who also work there, Key West locals, and the visitors who come to visit the Hemingway House, the more she enjoyed herself.

One visitor in particular that was not welcome was Irma, as in Hurricane Irma.  The coming of Irma led to making plans for evacuation of Key West.  That would mean leaving those 54 cats of the residence to ride out the storm.

Along with those 54 cats, in this comfort read, you will definitely learn much about the history of Key West, the Hemingway House, and why Key West is one very interesting place to spend some time

Last and certainly not least is Piglet (2021) by Melissa Shapiro, DVM in a nonfiction two in one tale that begins in 2017.  Before you actually meet Piglet, you will become acquainted with the author and her family.  You will learn how she came to have a special place in her heart for animals.

Learning her story will lead you an understanding how her family, and not just her, but also her husband, and three kids came to have six rescue dogs over the years along with several other kinds of animals.  With that much already going on in family, Melissa did not plan to rescue tiny Piglet.

Piglet was an unusual story and lucky to be alive when his path and Melissa’s crossed.  Part Chihuahua part Dachshund, weighing only about one or two pounds, with no hair.  This tiny little guy was also deaf and blind.  He was difficult to find someone to foster him since he was so tiny and had so many issues.

Dr. Shapiro agreed to take him for two weeks.  After two months their family had a difficult time giving him up even though it was pretty much a full-time job to care for him.  Plus, it took longer than first thought to form that bond the was most necessary for all involved.

Piglet eventually became a role model for overcoming adversity thanks to the family that did not give up and a third-grade classroom project that grew and grew.  Just look Piglet up on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook.  He is quite famous!  Enjoy meeting Piglet.

NB:  I happened upon a TW resident walking their dog one morning on the Parkway.  Turned out their dog was a rescue pet.  I asked him if he would like to read the book.  I found this note in the book when it was returned: Thank you for sharing the book, Piglet.  What an amazing little dog and loving family to a chance on him.  Even brought fond memories of my visits to Norwalk CT.  Pat Riley


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