Sunday, November 22, 2009

pumpkin hunting

While I was letting Pumpkin out the front door about a month ago I heard a scrabble-scrabble sound coming from the porch, the left of the door. (Our front porch is big-ish and runs an L-shape around the front and side of the house.) Pumpkin was doing his usual worrying about crossing the door threshold as I stuck my head out the door and took a look for the squirrel that was no doubt making the noise. Sure enough, he was standing about seven feet from the door and peering back over his shoulder toward the door; he wasn't much concerned with me or the cat. As Pumpkin hopped through the door he headed towards the squirrel who'd slowly started to move across the porch toward the steps. My impression after this encounter was that all the small forest animals of The Hilltop have long been aware of Pumpkin's lack of claws and somewhat slow-motion life; they have few worries. (Not that cats hunt-and-kill squirrels although 'twere it Lemon the Ready coming out the door that squirrel might've died of heart failure.)

Sometime later that week H. told his mother the yard-as-story history of the squirrel family that lives in the trees of our back hill. Apparently, the 'couple' has some kids - I think the number is three - running about and the mother squirrel is something of a battleax - my word added to H.'s description. The father squirrel, as relayed by H., spends as much time as possible at the neighborhood pub, bowling alley, or generally anywhere he doesn't to listen to the kvetching of his lovely squirrel wife. Fortunately, we've got loads of trees and a good perimeter that provides him safe distances from his homestead without forcing him across other squirrel nations' borders.

About a week after the first Pumpkin / door event I was again letting him out in the morning and when I opened the door this time the same squirrel was at the door, as if he'd knocked or hit the doorbell, up on his haunches, and clearly waiting for Pumpkin to come outside. The opening of the door didn't distress him one bit - nor did I - as he was waiting for old Land Squid to come outside. By the time Pumpkin traveled the last five fee to the door the squirrel had moved off a few feet and again hopping very slowly toward the stairs. The cat carefully leapt over the threshold and started to follow the squirrel down the porch. I guess that as my laughter at this strange friendship subsided I remembered how many times I'd seen Pumpkin slink around the slide of the house, down the garden path, 'hunting' whatever it is a cat like him could hunt, I realized that cat and squirrel spend a good part of their days playing some sort of hide-and-seek with each other. They both benefit, with Pumpkin getting a chance to 'catch' something, and squirrel spending his days ignoring his responsibilities and earning a piece of mind.

Even our cats have been turned to strange creatures...

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