Squirrels are busy hiding nuts; stocking up on seeds and other things to eat in the cold days ahead. Bears are on the final stretch of their feeding frenzy before settling in for a long winter’s nap. Deer, moose and other large animals make this a season of love. Courting and mating to bring the wonder of new life that will arrive in the spring.
The animals aren’t the only busy ones. People hurry to finish painting or outdoor projects before the weather turns cold. Lawn mowers get tucked away and snowblowers brought forth. Boats and campers are winterized for storage, while snowmobiles, ice houses and winter toys are brought out, tuned up and made ready for winter fun.
The days continue to get shorter and temperatures cooler. Mornings now greet me with frost on the grass. Just a little sunshine melts it away for now, but thicker, heavier frost is on the way. The last of this year’s days, nice enough to sit outside and have morning coffee on the deck, are upon us. I decided this would be a good day to put most of the patio furniture into storage, leaving one table and two chairs, just in case the weather holds out longer than I predicted.
Melissa was just finishing her coffee on the deck when I came out, still in my pajamas, to join her. As soon as I stepped outside I was warned, “There’s a red squirrel on the deck by the bird feeder. Don’t scare him. I don’t want him to jump off the edge.” she said. “What’s the big deal?” I questioned, “That squirrel is perfectly capable of jumping off a four-foot high deck and he’s not going to get hurt doing it.”
It seems the squirrel had gotten himself into a predicament. Our deck sits in a corner of the house with the kitchen wall on one side and the three-seasons room on another; the other two sides are open. The squirrel, I call him Rocky, was so focused on filling his cheeks with sunflower seeds from the bird feeder, he failed to notice our dog, June, positioned herself in the yard below waiting for him to jump down. June loves to chase squirrels and she is fast enough to catch them.
Rocky could run toward the other open side of the deck, except our cat, Edgar, was on the deck with his leash fastened to the leg of a chair. Edgar, crouched down like a sniper in a tactical position. He was guarding his side of the deck with all the intensity of a goalie in front of the net, waiting to pounce on the squirrel if he dared to come that way. There is no doubt in my mind, Edgar would easily catch Rocky even if he had to drag the chair with him to do so.
Melissa said, “He’s been running back and forth, from the feeder to the gas grill, hiding under the skirting of the grill cover.” She went on, “He knows June is in the yard, and Edgar has him pinned down from the other side.” I stood there next to the grill taking in the excitement as it played out.
The scene reminded me of a baseball player who tried to steal a run. He was trapped.
Tom can be reached for comment at Facebook.com/tom.palen.98