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Thursday, November 17, 2011

THE WILD THINGS


      caterpillar lioness



A squirrel has lived in the trees somewhere near the house for several months. I put up a bird feeder and the squirrel discovered it. The squirrel jumped from a tree to the roof of the birdfeeder. It's a little wooden one with a roof. At first, it was something new for the squirrel, but the benefit of the birdfeeder was negligible. A lot of work for very little. I started throwing seeds on the ground for the squirrel and birds that like the seeds on the ground. There was a period of time I didn't see the squirrel. What looked like at least half a dozen chipmunks ran about under the feeders nibbling seeds they could find. None could get past the squirrel guard. I threw seed on the ground for them. I don't mind who gets it. I put it out there for whoever comes along. A raccoon discovered one of the birdfeeders. When I put in too much during the day for the birds and there is some left in the night, the coon will sometimes throw the roof off the feeder and tear it apart getting at the seeds. I can't defeat the coon, so I put the roof back on and try not to have any left over by dark. If there is, it doesn't matter. If it gives the coon a vicarious thrill to feast on some morsels from a birdfeeder, I say go for it. Give it all you got. I don't mind the coon having some sunflower seeds the same as I don't mind the birds eating them.



I've been seeing what I thought were two young squirrels on the ground around the birdfeeders. So I've been throwing seed on the ground for them. Since they have come around, the chipmunks have vacated the birdfeeding area. I never see one. Earlier in the day I noticed two of the young squirrels running up and down a cedar tree outside the window that looks to the meadow. Then I saw a third one join in their game running up and down the trunk and the branches. Thought I saw a 4th one, or maybe the 3rd one again. I watched them all run up the trunk of the cedar to a nest. It looks like the squirrel that jumped on the birdfeeder from the tree had some babies and they're now big enough to run about on their own. One day last week I had the door open. I noticed Caterpillar on the inside of the screen door and one of the young squirrels outside the door and they were looking at each other. Caterpillar at age 14 is heavy enough she can't jump onto the footstool, needs to climb or be lifted. On a sunny day she lays on the ground like a gray rock and watches the flying candybars.



Caterpillar is long past catching birds. I saw her one day when she was a couple years old stalking a snowbird. From about 6 feet beyond Caterpillar the bird took off and flew over Caterpillar. She leaped straight up and swatted at the bird that was about 4 feet above the ground. She tapped one of the wings and set the bird to wobbling, and I saw she'd done that before. Three young cats was the end of birds around the house for a long time. No danger lurks here for birds or chipmunks or squirrels now. I sit at the desk with 3 windows and Caterpillar looking up at me wanting to be touched. Needing a few minutes of attention. Not a lot. She doesn't like too much attention. When she wants me to pick her up, it's for no more than a few minutes. If I act like I don't have time sitting at the desk looking at the rectangle of light, she can sit at my feet and beg plead until the end of time. I've learned when she wants attention, pick her up, talk to her, pet her and inside 2 minutes she wants down. She's satisfied. That was all she needed, held and touched, keeping the cat batteries charged.



I have a nest of squirrels now. That feels good. I've let trees grow around the house and made the ground like in the woods, a carpet of leaves, some rocks, some ferns. I like it that a squirrel chose to nest maybe 20 feet from the house. I laugh at myself. That means the attic space of the house has a good chance of becoming a squirrel apartment this winter. Exactly what I don't need. How do I get rid of them? Bring home a young cat. Then it's back to no birds or squirrels or chipmunks. Martha, the dog from next door, who spends her days here, is no bother to the critters. Dogs are good to keep critters like possums and coons from taking up under the house. A few weeks ago Martha killed a rabbit that ran under the house when it saw her, and Martha knows under the house like a kid knows its own bedroom. The rabbit didn't have a chance. While they were thumping around under the house, Caterpillar was listening with her ears alert, eyes inward, seeing with her ears. I didn't worry about Caterpillar feeling bad for the rabbit. If she were able, she'd have at least attempted to catch it. Martha brought it to the door to show what she'd done for me. Half-heartedly I told her she's a good dog. She picked it up and carried it off someplace to eat it.



Caterpillar, the lone cat now, seems to be happy with her place as the best and only. She didn't like the other two cats. Caterpillar has a solitary nature. She did seem to me to feel sorrow for a few days after TarBaby and Tapo had been gone long enough to see they're not coming back. I learned to communicate fairly well with my cats, enough that I believe I could tell sorrow when I saw it. She felt it. But like a cat, it lasted a short time, then it's back to the concerns of the day. Extended mourning is a mind thing for humans. I've learned from cats that our human way of standing over a grave or lingering at something sentimental is superficial. A cat sees a thing one time. That's all it needs. Second time, it doesn't need to look. It's already seen. When I took Jr to the cemeteries to visit his mother's grave and his dad's grave, he walked up to each one, looked at it a brief moment, turned and walked back to the car. He didn't need to stand over the grave. A look was what he went for. When I visit his grave, that's what I do, see it and leave. I learned it from him and the cats.    



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