Now and then something I see around town reminds me of warnings given to me by my two grandmothers as they strove mightily to keep me out of the emergency room and reform school.
“Don’t let a wounded snake fool you,” my hoe-wielding grandmother in Dripping Springs told me, “because it won’t die until sunset.” This staff of Asclepius (ancient Greek physician) is on the front of a clinic on 8th Avenue.
“Don’t let a turtle bite you, because it won’t let go until it hears thunder.” This turtle is at the Museum of Science and History with nary a storm in sight.
“Don’t get too close to a hummingbird, because it will drive its beak right through your hand.” This hummingbird is part of murals that school children have painted on six hundred feet of retaining wall along Sycamore Creek in Westcreek Park on the South Side.
“Don’t put a penny on the railroad tracks, because the train will derail,” cautioned my grandmother in Bowie. She lived in a shotgun house near the Rock Island tracks, and we cousins were fascinated by the dangers—real or imagined—that awaited us on the railroad right-of-way.
Thank you, grannies Greer and Nichols. No reform school for me yet. So far, so good.