Washington, D.C. A veritable paradise of government-funded natural spectacles. From the beautiful heights of pulpit rock, down the majestic hiking trails of her Rock Creek Park… those shallow, brown waters that eddy beneath the courageous rushing waterfall at Pierce Mill. And then, taking a swift bike down the trail there past deciduous trees of every species, cars eagerly shortcutting the worst traffic in the nation, and the ever-rare blackberry-checking federal worker-turned-fisherman in these hard times, the lucky traveler will eventually find his way to the National Zoological Park.
The Rock Creek, its trails and its trees were all completely closed, forbidden if you will, to the public until recently. What’s more amazing than how so many Americans survived the drama of Congress, is how nature’s wonders sallied-forth during the government shut down. Our brave and tiny paperclip friends went on an amazing journey through un-mowed zoo grass, starvation, rivalry, really, really quiet visiting hours and triumph.
This is the story of the silverback paperclip Titan, his Stripey Link Clan, and how they survived what paperclips nation-wide have begun to bend their tinny jaws in heralding, “Clippageddon Four.”
Nature does go in her cycles, and every now and then, as humans will eventually experience hurricanes and droughts they must recover from, the smallest of nature’s denizens are pushed to their own extremes in order survive catastrophes. It may be as simple as wild paperclips fleeing from Office Depot’s latest Black Friday sale, or in our case, the absence of countless tourists dropping crumbs that paperclips easily forage during what should be the period they fatten (well, they do) before hibernating in office buildings in wintertime. Washington, D.C. has gotten through much of the economic decline since the Great Recession of 2008 due to its many government agencies and government-funded organizations in the city. Paperclips who make their home in this city fare well, as there is always an abundance of government workers going down office aisles and leaving out lunches, dried coffee cups and the prized sugar packets left torn ope on coffee room counters. But, this October, the paperclips that usually migrate to their traditional feeding grounds, such as inside of the State Department, the FBI building and the various Smithsonian museums… all of these large, cubicle-bound human beasts who sow their dropped luncheon crumbs all over the carpet were furloughed at home instead, leaving many a silvery office supply starving.
The wild paperclips who draw to the Smithsonian National Zoo each Fall were especially hit—there is usually more than enough to feed upon, when there are animals on exhibit that must eat, zookeepers and office workers, and then there are children having birthday parties in addition to the tourists dropping popcorn, sticky cotton candy treats, and the like. What should have been a feast for the paperclips in 2013 rapidly degraded into bloodshed—very tiny, really, molecular and silvery bloodshed—as paperclip silverbacks stole from one another, little cliplings fought over a lone popcorn kernel here and there…
The females were often forced to abandon their cliplings in order to climb up tables and benches to pry whatever may be left, often hard, petrified gum (and gum is from the chicle tree… but that has nothing to do with today’s episode).
Titan, the silverback we’ve been following since 2010, was met with especial dramatic tension when he arrived at zoo hill—a place we’re exceptionally lucky to be positioned in, for it does appear the very scene for a primordial dogfight. The concrete “ZOO” letters, now gathering dirt and maybe even moss and spiderwebs during the two-week government shut down, tower in the distance above the morning mist, like ruins from some ancient empire. Grass, gone days-yet unmowed, wavers in broad, muted morning-blue leagues beyond. Titan, as tall as an acorn nearby, makes a tiny hop onto the scene. A pair of other males, much younger and with a familiar scent to him, are sparring in the foreground. He is prepared for an attack. Titan has been ready to confront these two fledgling half-sons of his for an age.
They all spread fangs and snarl. Titan approaches from the side, wanting the youngsters to see and know him first, to understand. Perhaps this is noble Titan’s attempt at letting them back away from his mate and cub hidden somewhere in the grass… or, he is expertly trying to avoid a match against two, healthy young males. One may never be sure with Titan, he is often more wise than he dares to be clever.
The juveniles lunge upon him. At first, the three look exactly as if some bored office worker has hooked them up and is flinging them about in an idle moment at his desk, but trust, these three are tearing each other apart. The juveniles each show faint stripes of red, or green on the other young male, where their silver coating has not fully grown in. At last, Titan unfolds himself, faster than any paperclip we’ve observed before, becoming almost a perfect straight cut of wire, and the two juveniles swing round him by the hoops, helplessly, until both fling free at the ends. They go flying through the tree–er, grass-tops.
Exhausted, Titan carefully bends one end of himself, and then the other round that, just as a tortoise unfolds himself from his shell after a confrontation… okay, so it’s the exact opposite of that. There aren’t too many other naturally-occurring things you can compare to paperclips, you know… and
Titan becomes whole and himself again. He cries out, and wild paperclips sound like small birds if you’ve ever heard them,
Kiweeweewoo… kiweeweewoowoo… woowoo…
Yes, go on and try it for yourself, it’s very refreshing. And, you won’t sound like an ass.
His mate, the flashing red strawberry hops out of the mists. These two have not seen each other in an age. They quickly embrace. The two juveniles, Joba and Boba were her own sons, and they had grown unruly, herding their mother away from Titan at their first opportunity some years back, finally hiding her here on zoo hill, when the pack came to feed.
What loyalty among office supplies that are truly bonded by love! Truly, they can stay hooked together in admirable ways…
|The battleground: Here, it is easy to see the tiny Stripey Link Clan
on Zoo Hill, fighting for their eensy weensy lives!
But, something is wrong. We wait and observe. At first, the animated and distraught behavior of the parents is hard to decipher, but then the gestures ring true for any of nature’s creatures, be they human beast or tiny, metal anthropomorphized object. Yes, the two are, indeed, parents. And, their tiny clipling has gone missing!
Titan hops ahead. He has found tracks of the tiny clipling that should have been attendant Strawberry at their reunion just now… but these stop at a scuffle of more prints. Those same juveniles Joba and Boba returning, surely, but then the smallest one disappears, carried off—they have taken poor little
Pipa, Titan and Strawberry’s one true cub together!
Oh, what shame for a tightly-knit paperclip pack to be torn open and shaken carelessly all over the place, on the grass, in this way. Titan has long known that these two were not his own by blood. At Strawberry’s insistence, because their pair-bond was so strong, Titan restrained his silver fang and did not dispense with the young males as some patriarchs, such as lions, aught. So, Titan raised Joba and
Boba as his own.
Now, however, that these two rogues have vengefully absconded with his true progeny, Titan must make them feel, at last, how they were never his own.
Strawberry hops several dirt granules ahead of him. No. It is clear that they will both fight. Together. She bares her bright red fang, before giving the call and leading Titan on a bloodthirsty chase through the zoo.
Paperclip Wisdom :: 1 The Mighty Silverback Paperclip :: 2 The Stripey Link Clan :: 3 The Origin of Office Supplies Species :: 4 Paperclip Savers are Environmentalists Too :: 5 The Blackest Friday :: 6 Furlough Reloaded!