Tracking the Wild Housewife

Attempts to observe one of nature’s greatest marvels in her natural habitat.

Day 1,335: This creature is truly marvelous.

I have often noted this, but I now realize I have done so less and less frequently over the three years I have devoted to studying her. Recognizing that time has dulled my powers of observation, I resolve to return to my research with new vigor, to better appreciate this remarkable creature’s labors. I shall attempt to observe her surreptitiously and carefully document my findings.

Day 1,339: My initial plan has been a failure. Upon more careful examination of the subject’s behavioral patterns, it becomes clear that most of the activities I am keen to observe happen either while I am asleep or when I am unavoidably detained elsewhere.

I briefly consider installing infrared cameras to document her behavior, but I quickly reject this plan as too costly and time-consuming. Rather than observing her behavior directly, I decide to wait for the next opportunity to search for the results of her actions, which will allow me to infer details regarding her activities.

Day 1,340: The subject has left her habitat with the young one. I should now be able to collect the necessary evidence without detection. I will begin my observation on the ground level of the habitat and then progress to other floors.

Kitchen: Tiny red lights on the dishwasher indicate she has made time to load the dirty dishes and start the machine. A small stainless steel bowl is filled with kibble for the dog. Two bags of trash have been collected and placed by the back door. (NOTE: Though it may compromise the objective nature of this study, I determine I should probably take the trash out to the curb.)

In the refrigerator, she has placed a gigantic plastic bottle of Hawaiian Punch, a special request from her … uh, mate. The refrigerator’s top shelf holds a 2.5 ounce jar of pureed plums, half its contents already fed to the little one.

The dog’s collar sits on the nearby counter, evidence that the subject dragged herself out of bed early enough to take the animal for a walk. Next to the collar is a plastic bag of homemade banana muffins. (NOTE: I decide I should eat one of the delicious-looking muffins, accepting the risk that this, too, may compromise my objectivity.)

Family room: The young one’s toys have been carefully gathered and placed in a basket. Two shirts have been retrieved from a pile on a chair and laundered. A cardboard palate of water bottles indicates a recent hunting-and-gathering trip.

Second-floor bathroom: Shards of soap left in the dish by the sink have been replaced by a new bar. Bathing supplies for the young one — including washcloths, bath soap, waterproof toys, and a tiny reclining mesh chair — are arranged in a corner.

Nursery: Stuffed animals are gathered neatly on a shelf, above a variety of books aimed at young readers. Pictures and other art objects — many of them hand-painted — hang on every wall. A microphone (housed in a cute plastic case, evidently for remote monitoring of the young one) and a device designed to increase relative humidity sit next to the little one’s wooden sleeping area.

Master bedroom: Upon opening the door to ascend to the third-floor bedroom, one immediately sees the brightly-colored tapestry she has hung at the landing. Upstairs, walls are decorated with photographs, mirrors and pictures. Clothing her mate carelessly left on a chair has been placed on hangers and hooks. She has recently placed clean sheets on the bed. (NOTE: I remind myself to take a nap on those sheets this afternoon, considering my objectivity is already shot to hell.)

I believe I have collected the necessary evidence to complete my research, though I shall require several days to digest my findings.

Day 1,342: The subject has learned of my work and grows curious. I must quickly complete my study, lest my research be compromised. My conclusions:

My findings throughout the dwelling indicate a nearly incomprehensible degree of caring for those around her. Every washed dish is a testament to her love for the other creatures in her family unit. Each laundered shirt and retrieved toy is an expression of her thoughtfulness and devotion. Everything I have observed reminds me of the beauty that drew me to this subject years ago.

I’m one very lucky researcher — it’s an honor to devote my life to the study of this remarkable woman.

Article © 2006 by Michael Duck