I’m fresh out of brilliant post ideas, due to still recovering from the New York Death Virus, so today you get interesting (but not brilliant.)
On Friday, I picked up Kiddo#2 and Kiddo#3 from the school rather than waiting for the school bus, and because the parking lot is a nightmare, we arrived early. (And got the last space. Which very nearly ate my car due to the mud, but that’s another story.) While waiting for dismissal time, Kiddo#4 wanted to climb the hill outside the school and play in the woods, so I followed him. It was muddy and wet, but not terribly cold.
While he wandered, I noticed a squirrel looking cagey. I can’t explain why, but it caught my attention and seemed to be behaving oddly. Despite living in the Wild Kingdom, I don’t know much about wildlife, but this squirrel seemed very wary of me. But I stayed put, and eventually it ran off.
A couple of minutes later, I saw it again, and this time it had a tiny rodent in its mouth. Hairless and wrinkled, the thing was the size of a walnut. The squirrel stopped, looked at me again (wary, as before) and then the thing in its mouth gave a keening squeak. She took off.
I realized, That was a baby squirrel, and not knowing what I was looking for, I scanned the nearby trees for some sort of nest. I saw a tree with a knothole, but other than that, nothing that stood out.
So I waited. And a few minutes later, she ran back. I didn’t approach her, but I moved around so I could watch where she went, and she climbed right up to the knothole in the tree, then disappeared into it.
And then she shot out, a baby squirrel in her mouth, and so help me, she climbed straight down the tree, leaped a snowbank, and then stopped less than ten feet from me. I stayed still. She ran on, found two trees growing next to each other, leaped onto the tree and then climbed straight up, maybe thirty feet. Thirty feet in the air, she leaped from one tree to the other — still with that baby in her mouth — and kept climbing, then disappeared from view.
I had no idea if mother squirrels move their nests. I’ve since looked them up, and they might do it if they feel threatened where they are. Really? Ten feet high, on a school playground? What’s to feel threatened?
She went back again, but this time she emerged from the knothole with no baby in her mouth. I suppose she’d moved them all.
I kept remembering my husband calling, “Good work, Mrs. Frisby!” And I wish that in a pinch, I’d be able to be half as brave as a mother squirrel leaping from one tree to the next with her baby in her mouth.