The Squirrel and Other Visitors

When we first moved to our property, we named one of the outbuildings, Chateau Bearshack, in recognition of the  bear viewing opportunities it provided from its foundation next to a field of dandelions.  We did not name the garden, Jardin de Blacktail Deer, though we certainly should have when we realized how frequently everything would be sampled-or annihilated-by deer.  Surprisingly, given that we are birders, we also did not call the irrigation ditch area, Hootenany Hollow, after the Barred Owls that nest behind it. I could go on, naming the various creatures which sometimes curse but consistently bless us with their presence.  What a breathtaking delight one evening, for example, to watch as eleven Barred Owls swooped down on the trellis in the back yard.  Each summer, I take a Boys of Summer shot of the three to five young bucks that hang out together in the neighbour’s field.  I am equally impressed by the squirrel who visits most of the year.  As I weed the flower beds, he jumps from tree to tree over my head, carting off hazelnuts for storage. It seems likely I could mulch a few meters of my garden with the crunched up shells that he eats.  Last winter (just yesterday, wasn’t it?) we rigged up a costume for the squirrel, attempting to get a picture of him wearing a ski sweater.  He eluded us, just as he has chosen not to pose for me when he climbs out on the moose antlers to wear down his teeth and possibly get calcium.  I hear him gnawing away and run for the camera but this alerts the dog and they are in a standoff position when I’m ready to take the picture.  That squirrel knows the most circuitous routes to every outbuilding and tree on the property and watching him navigate easily sets off the theme song to Mission Impossible.   Perhaps that should be an indication that my shot of him chewing away on the antlers is unattainable but I’ll keep my camera handy in case he lets his guard down.  In the meantime, here he is, staring down the dog, teeth freshly ground down.

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