This baby squirrel has not learned to be shy yet and munched on a seed about a foot away from me today. While there is so much of concern in the world at the moment that could cause me to write a rant, I will refrain from adding to the chorus and instead post a lovely being that has nothing to do with any of it.
These guys are everywhere in Washington State (click link to see how everywhere), so I always assumed they were a Western (as in the great West) Gray squirrel. Just discovered I was wrong! This is actually an Eastern Gray squirrel. Perhaps its family migrated from New York. I was not aware until now that the Western Gray squirrel that is not this guy is a threatened species.
In Pacific Northwest woods you often see cute, tiny, brown native Douglas squirrels. Actually you more often hear them before you see them because they hang onto a tree trunk and “chit-chit-chit” at you in such a way that you feel a 4- to 6-inch being has never seemed bigger or angrier. They so confidently protect their personal tree trunk against beings thousands of times larger than them that sometimes I wonder if I got close enough, would scissorhand claws pop out? The word squirrel comes from two ancient words that mean “shade tail” and the little Douglas ones know how to throw some shade.
I found a poem I wrote when I worked on the University of Washington campus for three years in my 20s while taking a night class with an employee discount. The campus is like its own city within Seattle, and many of the squirrels there are extremely bold and unafraid of people. The poem was written after one tried to steal my sandwich and spit on me from above when that didn’t work. I really do love these critters, but everyone has their limit.
I wait for the bus.
I am so afraid
I do not know where I am going.
A squirrel climbs on my notebook,
tries to eat my pen.
I telepathize: NO FOOD,
NO FOOD, SORRY, NO FOOD.
I do not know whether a chestnut
bomb from above
is the squirrel’s revenge.
If I write enough,
will the darkness leave me alone?
A duck puffs
its chest with guttural wheezes
in front of my crossed legs.
How monumental is the task
of staying in the things I love?
What happens when I tire of trying,
or slide the door shut
when a new bliss arrives?
The pigeons have flocked
to a man tearing
a jumbo popcorn bag.
This grass couch gives way
to my shape. The bus waits.