A tale of two squirrels and Denali National Park

When I lived in Alaska I went to Denali National Park a number of times. You can ride one of the old school buses through the entire park (80+ miles) to the end point which is Wonder Lake. The vistas are magnificent and there’s lots of wildlife to be seen along the way. Moose and Dall’s sheep, maybe a lone wolf galloping along or a brown bear with a cub or two. Ground squirrels and scolding marmots. One of my first rides on the bumpy dirt road was in the company of another visitor who became quite animated at the sight of some moose. There was also a group of park workers on the bus and one of them scoffed at the visitor’s excitement and said something like “You’ve seen one moose, you’ve seen them all.”

I remember feeling bad for that worker and hoping I’d never become bored by what I saw. And so it was in that spirit that I photographed these two squirrels in Kapok Park earlier this month.

I watched in delight as they chased each other around a tree trunk before jumping to the ground where they began to forage. There are certainly more “exotic” creatures in the park such as alligators and anhingas, but these feisty squirrels also caught my attention.

I hereby declare “mundane” be reserved for chores like dirty dishes and suggest that squirrels be viewed as Great Fun! Who’s with me?

Doe a deer a female deer

I woke this morning to snow that fell for hours before abruptly stopping when the sun came out. Zippy was out shoveling and came in to let me know we had a visitor in the yard. By the time I got to the window, the doe was strolling up the street past the spot where a huge pickup had slid sideways earlier in the day. (You can see the exposed groundcover where the truck went up over the sidewalk).

Hooves are superior to Michelins.

Portrait of dignity


“Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill, they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.”  ~ Richard Adams, Watership Down

Deerly Beloved

As the nervousness and anxiety mounts regarding the outcome of tomorrow’s votes, I turn to my default emotional-health tool: nature.

This deer showed up in our front yard just over a year ago and today I’m grateful for its grace, beauty, and calming demeanor.

Breathe, Tracy. Breathe . . .

Snowpocalypse Now

We’re finally getting much-needed snow! The recent warm temperatures and freakishly dry landscape felt slightly apocalyptic, so it’s a huge relief to receive moisture. Plus, the white provides a nice, clean blanket over all that drab brown.

However, it’s possible that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the snowstorm.

Bunny Monday

I just got back from a 4-mile run around the neighborhood. Emma started with me and then bailed at about 3/4 of a mile, possibly due to it being only 27 degrees. But it all worked out because as I dropped her off at home, I had the sense to put on my mask. Suddenly, it felt quite pleasant out there.

And when a bunny ran in front of me, I grinned and remembered that it’s Bunny Monday!

I’m sorry I don’t have a bunny photo to share, but here I am at home again, reenacting my Bunny Monday grin.

Channeling my inner squirrel

This guy was at the feeder that hangs right outside our living room window.  When I sat to watch him liberate shelled peanuts from the cylinder, he immediately copped an attitude. He was furious that I was interfering with his efforts, and most certainly the chatter aimed at me was profane.

This squirrel’s head about popped off.

I admired him so much. Check out his body language. At first glance, you’d think the guy was chill, focused and absolutely motionless. Except. Note the blurred tail.

That is my goal for today as I tackle my revisions: to work with intense focus while also keeping in constant motion.

Bunny Monday in 7 acts

NOTE: I fully realize these photos are low-quality. However, because I’ve spent the day trying to schedule an emergency root canal AND because we just learned that someone stole our credit union debit card info in order to steal $1000 from our account, I’m thinking a Double Dose of Bunny is in order.

These were taken yesterday. I hope you enjoy.

NOTE #2: The body language of the bunny on the driveway hints at a continuing interest in CHASE, but I can’t vouch for what happened next.

 

 

 

Drama in the backyard

I was working here at my desk, next to an open window, when I became aware of frenetic activity in the yard below. A split second later, another fact penetrated my brain fog: squeaking/screaming.

I jumped up and looked outside. Emma had a squirrel in her mouth. More shrieking (this time, from me).

Fast forward to Emma inside with me while Zebu went outside to check on the condition of the squirrel. He found it, alive, but motionless. It then took off running for the fence. Zebu came back inside to give the shocked animal some space. As we watched from the window, the squirrel tried climbing the six-feet-tall wooden fence. The bundle of fur made it halfway and then dropped to the ground. We agonized for the squirrel.

And then Zebu’s brain kicked in.

“That’s not a squirrel. It doesn’t have a tail.” Pause. “That’s a prairie dog!”

We were SO happy! The “squirrel” wasn’t failing to climb the fence because it was injured, it was failing because it wasn’t a fence-climbing creature!

Zebu leaned a timber against the fence for the prairie dog to use as a ramp. Didn’t work. He then opened the gate that lets out onto the wild hillside behind our house. Unfortunately, the prairie dog ran past the open gate, multiple times, and tried climbing the fence at the other end of the yard.

By then, Zippy was home. He and Zebu tried “herding” the frantic prairie dog to the gate. It was pretty stressful for everyone. Obviously, it was most stressful for the poor prairie dog.

He hunkered down and froze in front of Zebu. Right after I caught this shot, I was enlisted to help with the herding. By the time I put on shoes and got outside, the prairie dog made one more sprint.

This time, he went out the gate!

The three of us celebrated the liberation and apparent good health of our visitor, and wished him a safe return to his burrow (wherever that might be). Some days (and today is most definitely one of those days), it’s important to embrace the roles we play in setting things right on our little patch of the planet.

 

Today I embraced my inner squirrel

I’m working on a synopsis for my work-in-progress and, as anyone who has ever written one can attest, it’s not a pretty process. This time around I’m writing a synopsis before writing the novel which means I’m not locked into anything.

NOT LOCKED INTO ANYTHING = EVERYTHING IS A POSSIBILITY

Or another way to describe it: SQUIRREL BRAIN FREE-FOR-ALL

My ADD tendencies are having a blast-y as I try to reconcile my rough outline with all the brand new shiny ideas firing in my brain.

ZIP ZAP ZOOP.

However, I did make progress today. And when I’d had enough of ye olde synopsis, I put Emma on her leash and we went for a run on the trails.

Nothing clears the squirrel from one’s brain like a run over uneven terrain.

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