Meandering Along the River’s Edge

~by Virginia Rhys-Anson

To Be or Not To Be—A Squirrel

Squirrel, my fidgety-tailed friend. What is it like to be you? Bounding through the yard, your fluffy, bobbing tail twitching to its own rhythm. God must have been in a jovial mood the day He created you.

What is it like to be a squirrel? To go tippy toeing on and among branches. To climb tree’s trunk. To migrate through needing-to-be mowed grass.

Your romps among leaves exhibits so much energy. How rejuvenating it must be to sense their fragrance and hear their rustle and feel their tap upon your spring-loaded body. What fascinations become yours within the leaf clad stems? What delectable sensation greets you as you hop from the thinner, new-growth end of an elm’s branch to its parent tree? As you drop mid-air in tandem with branch’s undulation—bounce, rebound, bounce, rebound–in ever shallower ripples while scampering toward limb’s larger and stronger base? Does your stomach vacate its cavity and take up residence in your throat, as does mine when beginning my descent from a hill on a roller coastery road?

A rather skittish bunch, aren’t you? A bit high strung I would say. Though my intent is merely to watch and enjoy nature’s gifts, my presence seems disquieting. Your staccato barks warn your mates of my perceived intrusion into your assumed territory. Little do you realize that, had you remained silent and motionless, I would have had nary an inkling that you spied me from above. Tree’s foliage hides you well.

Your antics. Oh, yes, your antics. You seemingly play tag wherever you roam. At least tag it seems. Could very well be displays of dominance or amorous advances. I, in my stubbornness, prefer its anthropomorphic term to be tag.

Such manifestations of dexterity and balance are yours. You rival a seasoned walker of the high wire as you skillfully traverse a telephone line with nary a hint of losing your balance—an inborn instinct I deduce. Your acrobatics are, likewise, quite humorous as you hang upside down from a bird feeder while confiscating its contents.

Bird feeder thief are you. Though the robber’s life is not my desire, your cunning intrigues. You are quite adept at your craft. Corn cobs that I provide to entice you away from seeds and apples meant for avian friends seem not to dissuade you from these tasty treats. Seeds deplete quickly, much faster than birds alone can devour.

Likewise do apples–core, seeds, stem, and all. Much too quickly. Yes, it must be you, my larcenist friend. You and your marauding gang.

Corn cobs you do not devour en masse. The kernels only disappear. Spring thaw reveals a collection of kernelless cobs sprinkled throughout the yard. It so pleases me to know that you do not hunger in winter’s grip.

For such a tiny creature, your brain is ever sharp—and quite determined. Unfalteringly resolute is your species. The actual term might be stubborn. My feeble human attempts to thwart your feeder raids end all too frequently in defeat. Your teensy brain analyzes and reanalyzes the situation. Plan after plan is conjured and attempted until finally one succeeds. But you do not stop until you have reached your reward. Yep. Stubborn.

Bird seeds do, however, seem your favored treat. You relish the challenge of hijacking morsels from feeders. Well, one feeder only, as the second is designed to stymie your efforts. It does a pretty fair job, though you do try diligently to crack its code. Might the resilience of feeder two also hint that feeder one provides easy pickings, and the least resistant path rules?

Bird seed aside, we must have a sit down about your thievery of my crocus bulbs. I don’t ask much of you, my fidgety friend, and I provide plentifully for your needs. So please, I do beg, leave my crocus bulbs be. Though I love all four seasons, my spirit pines for the first hint of snow’s recession. Crocuses quell that ache. Yet the numbers of these daring blooms that peak above the white of winter are goodly depleted from those planted last fall. Yes, they must seem a delicacy. Yet please unhand—unpaw—my crocus bulbs.

Despite my dismay at your filching, I must say that your table manners are quite dainty. Clasped between your petite paws, a nourishing tidbit you nibble. Wouldn’t happen to be one of my crocus bulbs, would it? No matter. Tis too late to save it as you gingerly partake, savoring its apparently appealing flavor.

Quite a happy-go-lucky spirit is yours; jerky, deceptively haphazard meanders through my yard its signature. Your cares appear to non-exist as you frolic ‘neath nature’s luminous orb. Your life seems nearly all play, though I suspect every move is bent on survival. Yet play I perceive it so.

So what is it like to be you? To be or not to be a squirrel? One can only glimpse from without what the brain imagines from within. God’s jovial creature. How you can entertain and allow me to waste away an afternoon in its whole. Ah, but such a pleasant waste. Such a pleasant imagining.

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Virginia Anson grew up in the shadows of Sandia Crest in New Mexico. Family camping trips may have sparked her passion for nature. She holds an A.S. in Electronics Technology, a B.A. in Writing, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and a certificate in Wildlife/Forestry Conservation. Her book, Mother Earth’s Caretakers, targets middle school youngsters and is published as an e-book for Kindle. Virginia is a Vietnam Era veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and her volunteer endeavors see her as a lector, Eucharistic minister, and sacristan in her parish and as a habitat steward for the National Wildlife Federation. She especially cherishes her life in the Secular Franciscan Order, following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.

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