The “Natural” Side of My Daily Life in the Suburbs

Every morning, I brew my coffee, and step outside to put seed out for the birds and my neighbor squirrel.  He lives in the tree in my backyard.  He’s nice enough.  He tends to haul it back up the tree when I come outside.  This morning was a little different story. Image

Over the past week-plus, we have had temperatures of near or above 100F in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroMess.  That’s really put a bummer on Mr. Squirrel’s life.  When its hot – I hardly ever see him.  I can understand why, I would seek shade and not want to move much during temperatures like that.  Thankfully, I have an air-conditioned home that I can crawl back into.  The last two days, we have had some cloud cover and even a large bout of rain (yesterday and last night).  So this morning, heading out to dump the bird bath and put clean water in it (a practice I have undertaken as my part in combating the spread of West Nile virus), there he was.  Sitting right at the edge of the tree.  I have a set of railroad ties around the tree, keeping dirt a little higher up over the roots – and it was the railroad ties he was sitting on.  When I saw him, I froze.  He was breaking apart a sunflower seed when he saw me, and he froze too.

There we were.  Him, frozen with a sunflower seed in his little front paws.  Me, standing at the patio door, a pitcher of cold water in my left hand, and my right hand on the handle of the closed sliding glass door.  Slowly, I decided to make my move.  The sooner I cleaned up the bird bath, the sooner he could climb back down from the tree he normally escaped up, and resume his breakfast.  I took three steps towards him.  His tail twitched length-wise up his body.  Sort of like watching him pet his own head.  Another three steps, more tail-twitching – much faster and a little more anxious.  Just eight more steps to the bird-bath.

I took two more steps, and he bolted.  But not up the tree.  Instead he bolted straight to the bird-bath, my destination.  Now I was stuck.  Do I continue to move forward?  Do I retreat?  I decided to take another two steps forward.  His nose twitched a little…and he moved back to a point halfway between the bird-bath and his original location on the railroad tie.  I slowly moved the rest of the distance to the bird-bath and dumped the old water.  As I poured in the new water, he stood on his back legs, tail twitching madly…and just watched.

When I was done, I slowly retraced my steps to the patio door, opened it, stepped inside and closed it again.  When I looked back out, the squirrel was on the lip of the water fountain – sunflower seed in his paws.  He dunked the sunflower seed in the water a few times, ate it, and hopped down for another.

How do I know about my squirrel’s comings and goings??  Because he’s a featured part of my personal journal.  I write about him all the time.  My desk backs up onto the window looking on the bird-bath.  When I’m particularly brain-dead for the moment, I’ll turn around and just watch the bird-bath.  Sometimes, the squirrel is there.  Other times, I have blue jays, cardinals, sparrows, grackles, crows, and the occasional robin.  I don’t have to go into “discovery” mode to locate the “natural” side of Life…I offer it a feeding and watering hole in my part of this urban sprawl.  Granted, its not Glacier National Park or the Rockies…

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