Tracking Diaries #6: Dear Santa

Tracking Diaries #6: Dear Santa


“Dear Santa,

This year I have been extremely very mostly good, and for Christmas, I would really like for a sloth to go poop.”

I am typing my Christmas list into my phone as a way to pass the time while I sloth-sit. Sloth sitting is like sloth tracking, except we have already found the sloths and we don’t need any data on them, so I’m just watching them to see if they do anything interesting. It’s way less exciting than it sounds.

Today I have been pulled off my usual tracking duties to assist a film crew that has come to try and get some footage of a sloth going to the bathroom, which happens very briefly, once a week, and is highly unlikely to happen on my shift. But, I don’t make the rules, I just watch sloths.

“I know sloth poop is a pretty unusual request, Santa, and you probably don’t have much of it at the North Pole. That’s why I am thinking you could use your magic powers to see if these sloths right here need to go to the toilet, perhaps on camera. This would gain me a bunch of kudos from my co-workers.”

There are five sloths in the area I am watching. Two of them are two-fingered, which we don’t need footage of, one of them is a three-fingered mama with a baby, which we don’t need footage of, and two more are a couple of three-fingered males in a low tree right across from me. This would be perfect if they decided to do something besides sleep. I pull out the old pair of binoculars I have borrowed from a friend. They have gone blurry, and in them, the sloths look like small brown fuzzy spots that could be anything from sloths to bunches of wet leaves.

I continue typing on my phone.

“If sloth feces is outside of your jurisdiction, I understand. I would also be very happy with a new pair of binoculars.”

I have just looked up on the internet how expensive good binoculars are, and I figure a supernatural elf is probably the only way I’m going to see a pair in the next decade.

“I realize I probably haven’t been quite saint-like enough this year for the binoculars, but perhaps you could overlook that incident with my landlord. She was being quite unreasonable, and it’s not like I made the hole in my roof myself. Also, I did try to warn everybody about the tiles BEFORE the neighbor’s cat came crashing through the ceiling. At least it wasn’t an opossum this time.”

I glance back up at the sloths, who have not moved. To keep myself amused, I have given the two I am interested in names: the one on the left is–very appropriately–named “Lefty”. The one on the right is—very appropriately—named “Pancho Villa”. At least, I think it’s amusing… my coworkers were not nearly as impressed, but then, they apparently aren’t into legendary heroes or the outlaw songs written about them.

“Also, Santa, on the subject of me being good, I think we need to factor in the mitigating circumstances of extraordinary temptation. I haven’t used the company car to run over ANY illegal loggers lately, or the jerk-wads cutting down trees in Luna’s territory. I figure this should be good for at least a new hat, or another t-shirt. (Men’s medium, with a SloCo logo, and made of all-natural, sustainable materials, please. In case you’re taking notes.)”

The sky is threatening rain, and the sloths are threatening to sleep forever. I do a few jumping jacks to keep myself awake, and then pace around and look for any other sloths that might have snuck up on me while I was waiting. There’s something dark in the tree by Pancho and Lefty, but I figure it’s just a howler monkey.

“Finally, Santa, I would like to add to my Christmas list a few things for the sloths. I don’t think they write you many letters, but they have been very good all year. They are really hard to shop for, being ultra-minimalists and all, but I have noticed that they do like trees, so maybe you could swing something and plant a few for them.”

The threatened rain begins to pour in earnest. It’s time to go. I put my phone away and look back up at the sloths, which (surprise) continue to sleep—but for my efforts, I see the dark shape in the tree with them uncoiling! It’s not a howler monkey, but a tayra (Eira barbara): a large, black, omnivorous tree-weasel, and rare to see around here. I start jumping up and down in excitement, and the tayra, just as curious about me, also begins jumping around, leaping from branch to branch like it forgot that gravity is a non-negotiable law.

Just at that moment, my co-workers come around the corner in the truck, splashing mud everywhere. “Ames! Jump in! It’s time to get back to HQ.”

I look back up but the tayra is gone, and the sloths have slept through the whole thing. Soaking wet, I hop in the car, and pull out my phone again as we speed off.

“On second thought, Santa, all I want for Christmas this year is trees. Lots of them. Enough for the sloths and the tayra and everyone else. I probably haven’t been THAT good, but don’t worry about it, because SloCo has a reforestation program, and I’ve got a pair of hands. We will plant the trees ourselves.

Until next year—



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