Friday, August 10, 2012

Alfred's Insatiable Pursuit!


Like most children, I had a delightful childhood...climbing trees,
playing games galore...visiting my friends; of course,
I had to obey my parents...often performing assigned daily tasks.
Born as black as onyx, I was named Afro.

Maturing to adulthood, gave me the rite to rename myself...Alfred!
My story is one of determination, persistence, obstinacy. I'm writing this true story
to gain your sympathy, your understanding and assistance.
Some certain humans don't seem to care about my livelihood,
my necessity to find a home and the desire to mate one of my species.

“Location is Everything,”  I'm told.  I have it:  a great city, a wonderfully treed
neighbourhood and access to daily needs.  Actually, I should place my picture and
information on Facebook...for truly, I am quite handsome with a well-built-body...
have large luminous eyes and a gorgeous long bushy tail admired by all.
I am a squirrel!

In the summer of 2007, I desperately needed to provide a home for my sweetheart
(she was a beautiful gray with soft gentle eyes, flowing finely haired tail and a happy
disposition); we were a love-struck couple!  Yes, I could have settled for a tree nest,
yet I yearned for a location with a ready-made-food-supply.  I took her with me
on this “specific hunt”. 

Nearby, was an apartment building of yellow brick, outside balconies and
numerous leafy trees.  Humans lived here and often they were helpful  in
providing food. We needed somewhere “to nest” for our expected babies. 
We have great agility in climbing walls with our clawed feet, being able to
proceed upward, sideways, and downward at rapid speed. Gray and I searched
balconies to meet our basic needs ~ a place to build a nest and available food. 
We discovered  an idyllic place...our “little paradise”!

An end unit third floor apartment gave us privacy.  The food was most appetizing:
two large healthy gorgeous hibiscus plants that would bloom before summer's end;
also a couple end tables with colourful plants and wall-mounted hanging baskets.
How lush!  Gray and I spent hours searching for nest-building-materials. 
We collected twigs, grasses, leaves, old tissues, string, cord, pieces of cloth rags
...with these items in our mouths, we travelled up and down the brick and mortar
walls many, many times...to create our nest in a large empty white plastic planter
sitting below one of the small end tables.  Occasionally, a fine woman would
enter our balcony of choice.  Reluctant to proceed and trembling, Gray and I
sat side-by-side.  With our large eyes in wonderment, we studied her...
hoping she would be receptive to us.  I believe she thought us “cute”...
she didn't disturb us in our pursuit. 
We sat motionless...pensive and nervous...on our haunches with bushy tails
well displayed...trying to present ourselves as a handsome couple...hoping
she'd admire us. With her there so close to us and watching, we discontinued
our nest-building until she went inside.

Gray and I played and frolicked in the trees. We continued our hunt for nest stuff...
ascending the brick wall to  create “our balcony” home, then feasted on pansies,
hibiscus, geraniums, petunias and blue lobelia.  We spoke with the next door
 neighbour who told us that Lady M was very kind and friendly. 
Sadly, one day we discovered our nest was removed and the planter now empty. 
She was kind??? We were forced to abandon this location  settling for a tree nest. 
Occasionally, we visited Lady M's larder...and her delicious balcony food!

In the early summer of 2008, Gray and I attempted to build our nest in the same
now-empty container....and again feasted on hibiscus and flowering plants.  What
a heavenly garden to have at our paw tips!  She frequently saw us as we tentatively
sat to observe her reactions ~  Lady M shooed us away!  We continued to nest-build
and voraciously ate leaves and flowers which were most appetizing.
Again, she removed our nest!  How could she be So Cruel???   Reluctantly,
we built elsewhere...returning often to our banquet-balcony! 

Summer, 2009, surprised us! No hibiscus plants! No Flowers and leaves!  
The planter turned upside down! No conveniences here for us now!

Before our next forage to this Lady M's dwelling
I tell you of our Squirrel Lifestyle:

          Biologists estimate that 1 in about 10,000 gray squirrels is of black mutant.
          The black fur more readily absorbs heat from the sun's rays, providing
          warmth during cold northern winters.
          We squirrels, not only a food source for early settlers, were a serious threat
          to crops.  To cut down our population, many of us were killed for our furs.
          Gray-mating-pairs cannot produce black offspring.
          Large natural production of black squirrels are found throughout Ontario,
          Quebec and northern US states.

Our Habitat and Food

          We prefer to live where there is an abundance of food.  Usually this is an area
          with nut-and-seed-producing-plants.  New plant shoots are edible.
          We must live in places that have trees in the city; here we often nest-build     
           specifically for bearing our young.  Trees are safe when we need to leave
           the nest to search for food. 
           Since we are from the rodent family of animals, we are primarily vegetarian.
           We love eating acorns, walnuts, all kinds of seeds, fruits, mushrooms and
           young plants.  If foods are scarce, we'll eat twigs and bark and maybe even
           a small frog or bird eggs.  Near people, we can find scraps, dog food and we
           even raid bird feeders!
           Sometimes, we will bury our food around the ground of fallen trees.  Hiding
           food is done to a great degree in the fall to prepare “a store of foods” in the
           winter and ready-made-meals when spring arrives.

Gray has left me for another mate...so I am desperate in this lonely life!  
I need food! Where shall I go?  Back to this fine lady's apartment (summer 2010). 
Just what I expected...no plants...no flowers and leaves!  This humane lady must
have food inside! I scrambled to her bedroom window...but a screen prevented
my entry! I had wire-cutters for that task...my teeth!  I gnawed away making a
hole large enough to squeeze my body through!  Ah!  Now for the food!  
In the bedroom...only pictures,  furniture and clothing.  I scampered through the
hallway and found nothing edible. There in the living room sat my
blonde-haired-lady at her desk. I waited pensively on the oriental rug.  
Sitting upright on my haunches…she saw me! Tough Luck!  I was so frightened!  
She opened the balcony door and propped it open. Stupidly, I sat frozen...
unable to move!  She told me to leave, while hustling to open  the front door. 
I dashed under her bed for safety.  With broom in hand, she forced me to dash
to the living room and out the balcony door. I was terrified...as a thief caught in action!!! 
Determined not to leave the balcony, I hid under the table...but her broom
swatted me out of there. I raced across the concrete floor a couple times before
dashing to the brick wall which I quickly scurried down with claws and paws..
.holding my tail high, clamouring to the ground.below.
                                            My little  heart was beating “a mile a minute”!!!

Our Anatomy

         We have extra sharp teeth which continually grow and which we use to
           crack open nuts and for chewing through things to obtain food.
          Our claws we use for digging up stored foods and for tearing down barriers
          to get to foods.
          Our paws are flexible with individual digits...allowing us to reach into small
          places and to hold up the small foods to eat.
          Bushy tails are also used in an indirect way during a food search.  Our tails
          balance when we leap through tree branches or scampering along fences,
          roofs and railings so we don't  fall.
          Big eyes can see to the side very well...unable to see directly in front of us.
          We rely on keen sense of smell to locate food.

Biology and Behaviour

          Females usually mate during 2 periods a  year...each being about 2 weeks
          in duration. Tree squirrels nest in tree cavities.  Each litter of 3 or 4 is born
          naked and blind with ears closed.  Fur develops during the first 3 weeks.
          Their ears open about 4 weeks after birth and by the 6th week their eyes open.
          The young ones are weaned and on their own in 2 to 3 months.
          Each pair of squirrels needs at least 2 dens…3 are ideal.  The pair will
          often live in one den until the female gives birth. At that time, the male
          is evicted from the den and will use an additional den or tree.

I KNOW!  Because I’ve been evicted!
And feel like a Victim!

I’m a determined little bugger ~ a week or so later, I returned to her bedroom 
screen…No Hole!  New Screen, so stiff and almost impenetrable!   
Then, crossing to her living room window…Ah!  An old soft screen!  A new entry! 
I gnawed a hole in it then crawled through (fortunately, my fur protects 
me from cuts and tears).  But I’m caught between the window shelf and a sheer 
drape. She SAW ME from her computer desk.  Placing both hands flatly on the sheer 
material, she pushed and maneuvered me back through the screen  hole I had just 
entered.  I fought her, but Lady M’s hands won…and the window slammed SHUT!  
She attacked  me with a broom as I raced here and there on the balcony.  
Exasperated and in desperation, I jumped to her railing and fled from this 3rd floor
level to the concrete driveway below…rushing into the trees for safety.   
My pride was hurt!  My body was achingly sore…took me several days
to recuperate from this death-defying leap!

About 10 days later, I returned to the living room window…No Luck!  New Screen!
I then gave up! 

Not to be deterred, I returned in summer of 2011…No plants…No old screens…
only hanging baskets of artificial flowers…very pretty were the yellow daisies and 
bluish-purple clematis.  This Lady…has done me in!  Nothing for me! 
My patience has gone! In late fall…I returned to search for food for my winter
supply. The flower baskets were gone…after all, it was November!  
Below one end table was a large green garbage bag stuffed with her two baskets.  
I gave it a few good chews and managed to pull out a few yellow daisies and 
clematis flowers yanked from their stems…artificial though they may be. 
It gave me great satisfaction to retrieve these! I assume she was discouraged
by my misdemeanor (I was a bad boy!). Upon my next visit…
the bag and its contents were not available!

Why Do I Not Learn???  Yearly, I get the urge to return to Lady M’s apartment…
summer 2012…here I was again!  Needing a place to nest...on July 5th, I 
discovered below her table a unique heavy white elephant garden statue in 
which one could place a plant.  “This could be my nest”!  There's only a small space 
between top of the planter and the table top.  Into this space I succeeded in bringing 
nest supplies for my summer home.  Next time I returned, the space was plugged.  
I shoved and pushed with all my strength to remove these obstacles…
but to no avail.  She caught me twice and scared me off! Maybe she did it to 
protect her pair of mourning doves who had a nest on one of her wrought iron 
chairs…were incubating their eggs 24/7 for two weeks before the squabs hatch.

But WHY?  I have been desperate and persistent!  Doesn’t she KNOW 
that I need a nest?  She’s living in Nature’s environment…My Environment!
I have Rights!  I “mourn” because she prefers her “mourning doves”!

I’m able!  I’m strong!  I’m determined!  When Lady M is absent,
I shall attack, with my razor sharp teeth, the base of her elephant statue…
creating holes on each side of the elephant’s feet.  Of course, I’ll leave a
crumbling mess on the rug…but I’ll have entry into the statue base.
Three times she caught me on her balcony as I diligently worked to
accomplish my intended feat!  She aggressively scares me off. 
Each time I leap to the vertical brick wall…scampering over to the
next apartment to dash across its side railing and rush along the
front rail…where I push with a giant leap into the tree branches
which strongly sway with my sudden heavy weight…until I climb
into the higher branches…and take “calm” to slow down my heart rate.

Will I ever Learn??? Probably not!!!

Again, I return to Lady M’s white elephant statue.  It’s GONE!
And all the pieces have been swept away!  What am I to do?

On Friday, July 13th…is this Lucky?  Or is this Unlucky?
I have the last word!  I found an old-well-used-tissue which I carried by mouth
to her balcony; then tugged and retrieving one of her blue clematis from a
hanging basket, I deposited both “pieces” at the base of her Buddha statue
on an iron stand at a corner of her balcony…(this Buddha has lived with her from
garden to garden as she moved).  There, now, my Lady Friend…Remember Me!

                                 
“Alfred”…and co-written by Merle Baird-Kerr…August 6, 2012.
Comments welcome … scroll down…may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail … inezkate@gmail.com

Dear Alfred…Buddha has a message for you:
Do not dwell on the past.
Do not dream of the future.
Concentrate your mind on the present moment.

Alfred’s escapades, about which I have written, 
are true and personally experienced over the indicated years.   
His existence here…may even continue...next  year!

Of Interest:  A few years ago, I had a  real estate client  who wanted to sell    
his sizeable home and deeply treed property…to reside and maintain something
more practical.  We discussed the time of year to market his home.
“Well, Merle, I’ve a problem!  Squirrels wreak my property because of all the 
walnut trees. They gather nuts in the fall and bury them in the ground both in the 
front and back yards. In both mid winter and spring, they will dig up these nuts for 
their food source. My yard is well churned and messed by the squirrels both 
fall and spring.” We chose winter to market his property with an advisory to the 
potential buyers about his lovely active squirrels. 

“Pearl of Wisdom”
Even  a blind squirrel
does  find a nut…once in a while.

2 comments:

  1. Dear Merle...

    Madame M in disguise taking out the Rascals in Life ! I just loved this post... so well written ! So entertaining !

    Sherrie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sherrie...hoped the entertainment
      of this story was appreciated! Knew it was
      long...needed to maintain its continuity.
      Haven't seen Alfred since. However,
      he'll be back...perhaps next year.

      Delete