It is a very cool morning as I drive down the driveway to leave on errands. Across from the cabin a squirrel lays sprawled out across the driveway. As I approach in the car, the squirrel does not move. I am worried that perhaps in my last drive through that I might of...surely not. I decide to stop the car.
Over the years I have enjoyed watching the squirrels gathering nuts for the winter, hiding them in the ground, digging them up. At times they can be rather playful, and it is amazing how many there are in the immediate area. A few weeks back I swear one approached the window of the cabin and waved at me with its right arm and hand. Of course I did the only neighborly thing as I waved back before it scampered away.
My fear of what might have happened to the squirrel is replaced by sadness as I wonder which one it could be. Could it be Sam the traffic correspondent from the oak tree down by the road or Jill the forestry supervisor who lives just on the other side of the fenced yard? How about Harry who watches over the upper pasture from his home high in the oak tree that grows by the cattle guard crossing? I know that Winthorp and Sally have been really busy storing nuts lately by the cabin. Surely it couldn't be one of them since they move really, really fast.
I start to open the door to the car and a sudden thought crosses my mind, what if it was Alice? Alice the watcher who sits on the stump of the old apricot tree watching out for all the other squirrels. Alice, who has warned many a squirrel to take cover when need be. Alice, who lives in the hollowed out limb of the oak tree by the cabin.
Just when I think I'm becoming really upset, before my foot can even touch the ground through the open driver's side door, the squirrel suddenly rises from its flattened position and runs to the apricot stump. Alice was only messing with me!
I sometimes get glimpses of what the wildlife is like here without humans always walking around. I don't know if their fear is caused by the damage we tend to do to environments, or the decimation of populations of the animals as cities grow and rural life becomes less rural, but there is something to their reactions to those who do as little harm as possible. Perhaps the respect we should show to each other should extend on a larger scale to other animals, as well.