However, the squirrels I'm writing about in this post, have tails. And, they are
Yes, that's right, they're playing me for a fool. Since I regularly get outwitted by two felines in my life, this probably will come as no shock to you. To me, however, it makes me wonder if all this walking I'm doing is frying my brain cells. (The last three days I've done 35 miles of walking... a lot of it in the hot sun. Despite the vampire sunscreen I bathe in regularly, all those UV rays are probably doing a number on my grey matter. So, if you run into me and see something oozing from my ears and nose, be polite and don't vomit until I'm gone.) Because honestly, people playing me for a fool is one thing... cats are another. I know I own
I suppose I should explain. Yeah, eventually I get to things, I just prefer to take the senic route most of the time.
It's about half a mile to walk to the park. It's about another half mile to walk down to the park. One mile is usually my slower "Warm up" time, so in order to keep me from charging too fast, which can lead to leg cramps, which can lead me to
So, I bring peanuts and bird seed and a variety of other "tasty" goodies to the park to feed the creatures. This also satisfies my "Give and take" nature. I use that park a lot. Yes, I pay taxes, which help support the park, but honestly, I probably use it more than most residents. So, I feel I owe something to the park for my use. Two types of beings use the park. First are animals. Birds, squirrels, things like that. Sadly, a lot of these animals live on junk food tossed around the park. If junk food isn't good for humans, it probably isn't good for squirrels. Do you want to see a squirrel with clogged arteries, dropping dead in front of you because he's been living on Burger King fries for the last few years? I didn't think so. Neither do I. So, I bring "The good stuff" Wild animal mix and peanuts. Yeah, peanuts probably aren't the greatest thing, but hey, everyone needs a treat, and peanuts have proteen. And sunflower seeds and little grey things that look terrible so they must be really good for the critters.
The second group to use the park are human beings. Human beings generally bring their own food, and make their own choices on how healthy it is. Human beings don't appreciate it when I walk around pelting them with cheese and soy nuts, so I've ruled out feeding humans. Instead, I pick up their goddamned trash, because I'm convinced that everyone who goes to the park is
So, now as well as taking from the park, I am giving as well. The world is in balance, all is good.
Till the damned squirrels figured me out, I mean.
The first lap, I toss out handfuls of seed and wild animal feed in certain locations. On the second lap, and until I run out of this delicious feast, I usually stick to peanuts.
Most of the animals at the park are rather timid little creatures, who flee when they see me tossing this stuff, then return later, still timid, but clearly hungry, because they start picking at this stuff like they've never seen food in their lives. Which, after living on french fries and stale donuts, could very well be true.
When I see squirrels, and when they see me, they usually run up trees. I will then leave peanuts under the tree. The idea being what goes up, will come down, they'll land, see the peanuts, and eat them.
However, there are a lot of trees in the park, and many are close together, so what probably happens a lot is squirrels run up trees, I toss peanuts around the trunk, squirrels jump to another tree. Some totally random, other squirrel comes along, eats peanuts and figures, "Wow, peanuts appear under trees... by golly there is a god!"
But, there is one tree, a maple tree, that is in an area with no other trees around. There are two squirrels, who for the sake of this story, I'll call Grey and Red. They like to play around this tree.
Both squirrels are common variety predominantly grey squirrels. But, Red has some brownish red color to his tail, which is why I'll call him red. It also seems that red hair, as I've been saying for years, makes you smarter, because clearly Red is more intelligent than Grey. (And no, the fact that I have red hair has nothing to do with this conclusion... really it doesn't!)
So, the past few mornings, I've been coming around, seeing Red and Grey. Usually they are frisking about on the sidewalk, engaged in that charming squirrel play that makes you just want to go all Elmira on them and "Hug 'em and squeeze 'em!" Then, they see me and dash off for the tree. Red usually makes it first. Because, clearly red hair not only makes you smarter, but it makes you faster too.
I smile, and toss peanuts under the tree, and continue my walk.
Well, this part of the walk lead me to an area where the "pond" narrows, and leads into a stream, which dumps into the
Usually I do this once, maybe twice and then Red and Grey go off to do their important Squirrel things, which no doubt involves squirrel politics and squirrel meetings, where they all elect officials on the basis of how many nuts they have... uh...stored for the winter. I continue my walking and look for other squirrels to
Well, today I had a fair number of nuts, so the first time I saw Red and Grey, I tossed a fair handlful of them under the tree, did my loop around, tripping over the bridge.. (I really want to get a garden troll and put him under the bridge... it just looks like the type of bridge that needs an ugly old troll sitting under it.)
I look across and there are Red and Grey, on the ground, happily enjoying peanuts. They were on their hind haunches, nibbling away, blowing peanut shells all over the place, looking like a couple of kids in Baskin Robins on Free Scoop night.
I smile and continue walking.
I come around again, and Red is now across the path, down by the water. (No doubt peanuts make you thirsty) He looks up, sees me, and runs across the path and up the tree. My brain says, "Squirrel in the tree... leave peanuts."
So, I leave a few more. Cross bridge, watch as Grey and Red come down out of tree and have another wonderful peanut dinner.
Same thing happens on next loop. Red waits until I'm fairly close, then jumps up out of the grass by the water, runs across the path, climbs up the tree. Again, my brain says, "Leave peanuts."
So... I'm not thinking anything of this, until the next time... where I am starting to run low on peanuts. Now, there is a small hill that leads down to this area that I walk around. So, I walk down the hill, I can barely see the path, the water, and the tree... just barely. I see Grey run across the path. I think nothing of it, until I see Grey run back across the path. I'm getting a little closer now, and Grey then runs over to the tree.
My mind is thinking, "Poor little fellow. I'm startling him. He probably wants to get a drink, but now that I'm coming, he wants to go for the safety of the tree."
Then I see Red, in the very lowest branches of the tree, leaning down and chittering like crazy to Grey. Grey chitters back, then runs across the path again, a bit slower this time, then runs back even slower (Keep in mind, I'm getting closer) and then up into the tree.
I know what happened.
I can almost hear their conversation in my mind.
"You know, Grey, I've been reminding that tall creature who leaves food that we're still around the last two times. Now it's your turn."Yes, I ran out of peanuts that time. I hope poor Grey is all right.
"But Red," Grey whined in a high squeeky voice, even for a squirrel. "I don't know if I dare risk it! I mean, what if she...grabs me and *gasp* cuddles me?"
"Buck up, ya pussy," Red said, spitting out bits of peanut shells. "You're a squirrel damn it, you can outrun her any day. She's huge! It's your turn to remind her that we're here."
"But what if I fail?" Grey whinned.
"You'll never know unless you try."
Feeling completely chastised, Grey crept across the road to do his duty as a Squirrel. The two squirrels waited anxiously for the extremely tall (Well to a squirrel I would seem like a giant you know...) creature to pass.
His small head cocked, Red listened carefully for footsteps. For, being a squirrel with red hair in his tail meant of course, that not only was he smarter and faster than any other squirrel. It also meant his hearing was far superior. After a bit, he nodded. "Okay, the creature is coming get-"
He never had a chance to finish his chitter, because Grey dashed across the path. "How'd'I do, how'd'I do?" he asked, managing to look axious, exhausted, nervous and cute all at the same time.
"You moron!" Red shrieked. "You did it too fast! She probably didn't see you! Now run back and do it again!"
"But Red... she's getting closer"
"That's the point!" Red said. "You want her to get close. You want her to see you! Then she'll know to leave the peanuts!"
"But... she's left peanuts the last three times... of course she will this time. She must realize we're still in this tree."
"We can't garentee that. She's so big, she must be retarded. We have to make sure she sees one of us..." Red stared down his friend sternly. "Now go back and do it again!"
His little heart racing, Grey ran across the path quickly and then returned. "How'd'I do? How'd'I do?" He again asked, breathlessly.
"Nooo! You did it too fast again! I'm not sure she saw you! Go back again!"
By this point, Red was in such a frenzy that Grey wasn't sure what would be worse...to be grabbed by the huge food bearing creature or to face Red's wrath...so, he did what was asked, running across the path, then running slowly back. "Is it okay now, Red? Is it? Is it?"
"I think so... here she comes... GET IN THE TREE YOU MORON!"
Still panting, Grey managed to climb up the tree a tiny bit.
The huge shambling creature stopped, reached into her bag and pulled out a few peanuts, which she tossed under the tree. "These are the end of them, guys." she said.
Grey and Red winced at the thunder of her voice, of course, not understanding a word she said. But, once she was safely over the bridge, they ran down to their bounty of peanuts. "Oh boy!" Grey exclaimed as he stuffed his mouth full of peanuts. "I did it, I did it, I did it!"
"Yes, you did..." Red admitted, as he helped himself to a particularly fat nut. "The creature left the food this time. But... next time if she doesn't, it's your fault. I got her to leave the food three times you only got her to leave it once. So the next two times are yours."
"What will happen if she doesn't leave food the next time?" Grey whispered nervously.
"I'm not sure..." Red said, his beady black eyes narrowing. "But I do know that you won't like it at all."