Friday, October 16, 2009

With Apologies to Jim Morrison

We've had a decidedly November chill to our days this October week here in Southeastern Connecticut (and also had a bit of Christmas snow yesterday afternoon). I have that weather gadget on the computer that has an apoplectic attack every time there's another frost warning or a freeze alert and it's been doing the Rockin' Robin for a couple of days almost nonstop. I'm a bit more blase-unless you're chirping to tell me there's three feet of snow coming up the coast, go peddle your papers. This is New England after all, go parhk yourh carh.

Meanwhile at work, I watch the trees fill up with all the birds who migrate as they get organized for their southern sojourn while the sparrows and blue jays and whatever some of other year-rounders are called (right long the shore, there are sandpipers but that's the limit to my ornithological ability) sit around on the grass searching for food

The half dozen or so squirrels I used to feed during the dog days of July heat have been reduced to one lonely visitor who leaps from the ground to my windowsill, some thirty-eight inches (yes, I measured it) high and leans against the double pane thermal glass trying to peer through it and the screen to see what the peanut-dispensing biped is up to that he isn't throwing legumes out the window.

This, I suspect, is the same squirrel that used to figure out how to get under the open office window when the air conditioning was hinky and scratch with those claws on the screen to get my attention. Then as now, I wait for him (her? it?) to clear the windowsill and jump back down to terra firma before flipping the peanuts outside.

More often than not, he gathers two peanuts together (there's a market for squirrel shopping bags, I imagine, but I don't know how to collect their money) and scampers off, but not too far, to bury the nuts in the large front lawn (one of the nicer things it's been called in recent months) where he remembers where they are though I have no idea how. As the colder months approach, the squirrel seems more single-minded about this routine with every passing day. I'm trying to imagine what the animal uses in October to find the buried peanuts in January. Eco-location?

The squirrel hurries back to under the window because he's in a race with the blue jays who swoop down, grab a peanut and then give themselves a headache, I believe, standing on a tree branch holding it in their beaks while slamming it into the tree until the shell cracks. I can understand why they prefer bugs and slugs.

There was a day not that long ago that a squirrel and a bird had a difference of opinion that I joined, already in progress. The audio cue had been that annoying yell that blue jays never tire of-ever. He just kept at it and kept it. No less incessant, but barely audible was what I at first thought was a bike tire losing air-a soft, low steady hissing. I looked out the window and saw a squirrel facing off with bird over a thrown peanut.

One hopped while the other stepped. One cocked its head to one side and scolded loudly and the other stood on its hind legs as if to bow. I threw out some more peanuts hoping to defuse the situation but it was too late-they were captured by the conflict. It was on and gone. All I could do was close the window after promising to feed whichever one showed up the next day.
-bill kenny

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