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Sunday, May 12, 2013

A PEACEABLE KINGDOM

gray squirrel

Feeling good today, sun is out, a little wind, temperature 60, a nice spring day, birds singing. Feeling good on the inside such that it's not swayed by what is outside. If it were rainy and cold, I'd still be feeling good. When it's cold, I like to take a nap this time of day. The fresh leaves, the birds passing through on their way north for the summer, the air outside the windows visible in the small oak leaves wiggling, and behind them the rhododendron branches moving up and down, leaves in motion reflecting evening sunlight in sparkles of white light dancing on the green. A bluejay stands on one of the branches pecking at a sunflower seed to open it for the meat inside. Some of the chickadees and snowbirds have stopped flying away when I open the door. A few of the chickadees will stand on a branch in the rhododendron just a few feet away to watch me put seeds in the feeder. They greet me with their clicking sound. The squirrels don't run far when I go outside anymore. They used to fly up a tree like the giant that lives in the shack was going to puff up like Godzilla and snatch them with dragon teeth, swallow them in one gulp. By now they see the giant is about feeding them. They hop to a nearby tree and hide from me on the other side of the trunk, or go to a branch not too high and watch the giant serve their daily seeds.



Two kinds of squirrels dine here, gray and red. The reds are pine squirrels that live in the white pines around the house, this area their territory. A gray is close to the window foraging through the pine needles on the ground, staying behind greenery aware the giant is inside the window. It keeps an eye on me from time to time to see if I'm still in place. The giant watches the squirrel with the same thrill upper-middle class Americans get on a camera safari in the Serengeti to see lions and rhinos, leopards, herds of antelope from a cage on wheels driven by a local man armed with stopping power. I don't care that my squirrels and birds are not exotic. They are living beings same as the exotic varieties. They are the untamed people in my world. Watching a squirrel play chase with its friend, I am watching the spirit of life in squirrel form, not far from a monkey form. They have hands they hold things with, all four feet are hands. They have claws to help them climb. I've seen squirrels leap from one tree to another, jumping from almost a twig at the extremity of one tree and sail through the air straight up like standing, all four feet forward and open to grab the small limb at the extremity of the next tree. I've seen them run through the canopy in the forest from tree to tree as freely as on the ground, better. The ground has leaves and sticks, rocks, logs. Up there in the trees a squirrel can get around pretty good.

 


In my adult life I have focused a great deal of attention on seeing the consciousness in the non-speaking animal world where I live. I learned first hand from living with dogs and cats, finding that I can know the "person" there, the consciousness, the mind. They have all the mind we have except for the forebrain activities where the capacity for reason is located. The four-leggeds are only one leap in consciousness from my consciousness. In the time of taking care of my neighbor and friend in the time of leaving the body, I discovered when his mind went away (dementia), I could communicate with him same as before, but without words, like I do at home with my four-legged friends minus forebrain. Their inner peace tells me the forebrain is as much a curse as a blessing. I watch the squirrel through the window knowing if I had raised it from a baby, bottle-feeding it, we would be able to communicate. We'd be friends. The squirrel would probably be surprised at how illiterate I am to the way squirrels communicate and what they have on their minds. The same consciousness as in a cat or a dog. It could be fun understanding squirrel nature like I understand cat and dog nature.



A dove the same color as the ground is bobbing around in the shadow of the rhododendron, wary of being seen. If I were to open the door the dove would fly straight up making its vibrato squeak that sounds like a rusty hinge vibrating. A dove is a good catch for a hawk, making them extra cautious. All the birds are wary unto instantaneous flight response to the unexpected. The cardinal, too, seems wary as the dove. He makes an easy hawk target. They have a hard time hiding. This feeding station has such a network of branches around that hawks are disoriented when they fly into the feeding zone. All the birds scatter, leaving the hawk to sit on the roof peak of the birdfeeder and assess this webbing of limbs easy to fly through, but all maneuvering attention is focused on missing the limbs. Leaves filling out on the limbs will make a canopy over the feeding station hawks will not be able to see into. Red squirrels have a life span of one year, I presume because they are hawk targets. I have four red squirrels now. It tells me they're safe here. The new pair look a little bit smaller than the others, making me suspect the pair that live here have multiplied. Baby chipmunks (ground squirrels their old-time name) scurry about in the shade under the rhododendron, looking for food and playing chase at the same time. I like having my peaceable kingdom where everybody is safe from hawks. The two gray squirrels have become four. A chickadee carried a sunflower seed to a rhododendron branch, held it with a foot, pecked and pecked at the shell, ate the treat inside and flew in a straight line back to the feeder.



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