November 24, 2011
grateful birds feast with squirrel,
It is the uninvited guest that brings growth to the table. We can all make plans. If given time and foreknowledge, we can prepare for almost anything. We can write our scripts in advance. We can practice. We can set out another plate. We can learn how to handle the situation before the guests arrive.
It is with the uninvited guest that growth begins. Perhaps it is illness. Perhaps it is unemployment. Perhaps it is disappointment. There was a reason the guest was left uninvited. The meal would go down easier without this uninvited guest. The event would pass uneventfully.
What moves us is the uninvited guest. The guest provides a feast I could not provide for myself. For the uninvited guest, I am thankful.
November 20, 2011
Three house sparrows feed
content until a squirrel
scatters seed and bird.
Around this time of year – and always by Thanksgiving – when the cold comes and sometimes an early snow, we begin to supply seed for the birds in our birdfeeder by our back window from which this photo was taken.
We could call it a squirrel feeder just as well, for the acrobatic squirrels have no trouble springing up and down at will. Sometimes we chase them away so there will be some seed left for the birds; other times we just let them have their snack.
November 9, 2011
Count the acorns the squirrels
have squirreled away.
Here is a squirrel in the maple tree where I had found the hickory nut shells last month (“Tell-tale Shells” – October 9). A funny thing happened when I took this photograph. I was walking toward the side-door to our garage with my camera, having taken a few photos in our back yard, when I met this squirrel who looked up at me, turned tail and scurried up our maple on our side yard. The squirrel stopped at the lowest branch, turned round and sat up. I moved closer and asked, “Do you want your picture taken?”
The squirrel just sat there munching. I moved even closer, readied my camera, took a few pictures, and looked at them while he sat there. I took a few more – a total of seven – and said, “Thank you.” As soon as I thanked him, he turned again and went scurrying high up in the tree. This photo is my favorite photo from this sitting.
November 5, 2011
Rough currents of bark
flow down the length of the oak.
Squirrels swim upstream.
The squirrels are very active this time of year either chasing food for the coming winter or chasing each other and, with most leaves gone from the trees now, it is easy to see them. Their homes once hidden in the umbrage of the trees now stand out clearly against the sky like surprises or perhaps explanations.
October 9, 2011
Split hickory shells,
empty at the maple’s base -
hungry, cautious squirrel.
I laughed when I saw these empty hickory shells under our maple tree in our front yard. The nearest hickory tree is on the other side of our fenceline in our backyard. So some squirrel must have travelled some distance with it for it surely did not fall from our maple.
Creatures of eat-and-run, the squirrels like to eat alfresco with a fire escape nearby in case things get too hot on the ground.
August 20, 2011
Now that acorns fall,
squirrels scurry to plant oaks
- dig and put and pat.
The squirrels are very active in our neighborhood at this time of year: collecting, burying or eating acorns and hickory nuts. One can hear their chomping, hear their shells clonking on the tin roof of our neighbor’s backyard shed, hear their skittering up and down the tree trunks perhaps chasing down another squirrel audacious enough to pilfer one’s winter treasure trove.
August 9, 2011
Hidden squirrel nests
become invisible by
letting nature in.
We can always tell where new squirrel nests are being built in our oak trees: there are green leaf groupings – dropped or discarded building materials – underneath the construction site. But in the trees the squirrel nests remain invisible until the leaves fall in autumn and reveal this borough of the squirrels in our neighborhood.
At this time of year, one begins to hear the distinct munching of acorns in the oaks and see discarded cupules intermittently fall giving away a hidden squirrel’s location. It occurs to me that most of the wildlife here in the Midwest remains invisible by letting nature completely into its life, becoming one with it, taking what one needs, seeking atonement, and giving back. There is no talk of wildlife’s carbon footprint; there is barely a footprint to trace.
While the wildlife remains hidden, its secret is not: live a wild, wild life.
February 20, 2011
A red squirrel runs
a limb’s length – thin to thinner -
to another oak.
With the warming temperatures, the squirrels are more active and, with their stripped-down playground, they are visible to all. Sometimes one will chase another up and around an oak trunk onto its branches at breakneck speeds. They always, however, seem to have some sort of plan for when the scurrying lead squirrel gets to a point where the thin branch can no longer support its weight, it will leap to another unbelievably thin branch of another tree and follow it to thicker, safer footing.
Have these suirrels mapped out their escape routes in advance? The trees are living and growing and changing. Or can they calculate the distance and branch strength accurately faster than they run? Cool but crazy!