Friday, September 12, 2008

Snakes and Squirrels

We were supposed to leave for Colorado this morning, but when I woke up and checked the satellite, I realized we were blocked in. We have the remnants of Baja’s tropical storm blocking our way west and north, and of course, the hurricane is coming in from the south and east. Even though my house is on the side of a mountain, when it comes to weather, sometimes it feels as if we are the center of a circle and all the weather moves around us.

It is very windy today and the animals seem busier because of it. There was a black garter snake in my window again this morning. Last time I saw this snake he had climbed into the living room window. I heard him tapping on the glass and thought it was one of the window frogs. I was so suprised to see a snake staring back at me! It wasn’t tapping on the glass this time, it was drinking from the frog dish. It's a very long, black snake with a white striped section on top that has a stripe of orange down the center. And he is so fast!

The squirrels were drinking out of the turtle pond and the little male was doing a careful assessment of the shelter area I built for Crush, the turtle. I would love to have them living right outside my bedroom window, but it would be impossible to keep them safe from the dogs and cat. They are fascinating to watch. Their paws look more like hands and they use them this way, unless they’re climbing down a tree head first. This morning, the back yard was filled with cardinals and blue birds and the squirrels were lying on their bellies on the tree branches, watching. When I was a child I collected ceramic squirrels. My parents often took us camping in the Colorado mountains. Just about every weekend, in fact. And whenever we stopped at a little gift shop, they bought me a squirrel.

Squirrels can get over-friendly at times, though. We had a pair that made their home in our backyard in Colorado once. The male was so friendly he would try to take the peanuts from my fingers, so I started wearing gloves when I set them on the tree branches. After awhile, they started burying the peanuts throughout my garden—and digging up the plants to do so. They also dug up all of my flower bulbs and ate them. They also tore all the bark off the trees. I don’t think we’ll have the same problems in Texas. There are plenty of trees, it rarely gets uncomfortably cold, and there seems to be a never-ending supply of food for the little creatures.

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