Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Squirrel mama

I was slaving away on April 25, planting a few cold-hardy seeds in a small bed by my gardening shed and adding compost and such to some of the raised beds.

I wheeled the barrow over to the pile of last year's leftover bags of compost and realized there was a critter having some kind of a fit in the wee little shelter (I think it was once an ice fishing shack, although it is a mighty odd one that would barely hold one person) that holds my tomato cages and bean poles and such. I had some burlap attached to a couple of the poles that I had wound up and this critter was yanking on a hank of the burlap like a dog playing tug with a rope.

This squirrel was going nuts, so much so it didn't even realize I was standing just a couple of feet away until I moved forward a bit more. It skittered out of sight, into the eaves of the building, so I grabbed a couple of bags of compost and wheeled them away. I got back to the bench at the shed and sat down to see what the squirrel would do.

It came back after a couple of minutes and started tugging on that hank of burlap. This went on for a few minutes, until I just couldn't take it anymore. So I walked over and yanked the burlap off and set it near the end of the branch the squirrel had just climbed up. I went back to the bench and moments later the squirrel zipped down and grabbed the burlap.

It started rolling the material into a bundle and when it could wrap its arms around it, the squirrel started up the branch.

This was no easy process. The bundle kept coming undone, nearly upsetting the squirrel out of the branch, but each time the squirrel got a foothold and started wrapping and rolling the bundle until it was tight again and off it would go.

I followed its progress up the branches and then down to the forest floor. The squirrel looked like it was making a beeline for my gardening shed (curses, I thought), but no, it bypassed it and kept skipping along holding its bundle and rolling it in its arms every few feet to keep it from unfolding.

Then it reached a tree trunk and started to climb, all the while holding its burlap bundle. I kept watching and then I lost sight of the squirrel.

I couldn't figure out where the squirrel had gone, so I walked toward the tree where I had last seen it. When I got to the opposite side, I saw the burlap hanging from a hole in a dead tree trunk. There were a few tugs on the burlap and I realized I should go grab the camera.

By the time I got back, the burlap had disappeared into the hole. But a very satisfied squirrel mama, I am guessing, was poking her head out of the hole and looking right at me.

I took some pictures and then I went back and yanked off another piece of the burlap. Within a couple of days it had disappeared, too.

It's a happy thought, thinking of those babies wrapped in burlap in their cozy little treehouse, swaying in the wind.

And not in my gardening shed.

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