Archive for July 15th, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

Sydney, don’t have a boy 16 years & 21 days old. He will go and enlist as a private soldier within a year after his older brother was killed in the front of battle. And he will hide in a city you don’t know of—& will conceal the name and number of the Battery into which he has fled . . . and thence will write you letters upon the patriotic duty of letting sons of pith and vim fight for their bleeding country &c &c &c—

And you will almost want to kill him.

—letter from Samuel Wilkerson to Sydney Gay, 1864



There is a squirrel here who didn’t get the memo. About species boundaries, and about fear.

Frequently now, when he happens to be in the neighborhood, and I come out onto the deck, he grabs an acorn, skitters about 30 feet up a tree, ventures out onto a branch, takes a seat, and nibbles away, while watching me. From about eight feet away. He seems to think I’m interesting. And I think he’s interesting, too.

No one seems to have informed him, or perhaps he just didn’t listen, that humans happen to be renowned squirrel-slayers. And so there are probably smarter things to do than skinny up a tree to watch one, at close-range, while dining.

His attitude seems to be that I personally have never done him any harm. And so he doesn’t expect me to.

Same attitude he evinces towards the young’un cat.

The turkeys and the deer aren’t around much at the moment, and he’s given up on the Something in the ivy, so the young’un cat is these days concentrating on the squirrels. He pretends to track them, like he pretends to track most everything; the squirrels respond with that chattering and drumming thing they do, to warn would-be predators that they’re on to the sneaks, and so they should bugger right off.

Not this squirrel. He plays with the young’un cat. He’ll scrabble up a tree a ways, then wait for the young’un cat to come up the other side. As the young’un cat begins to claw his way around the tree, to get closer to the squirrel, the squirrel will sidle up and away a bit, then wait some more. Till the young’un cat gamely follows. This goes on until the young’un cat, not really equipped by nature to be a squirrel, gets tuckered out, and drops down out of the tree. Then the squirrel will grab an acorn and race out onto his branch to see what I might be up to.

I tend to worry about people like this. Because although neither I nor the young’un cat mean him any harm, people who look like us might.

He doesn’t seem to worry, though.

Probably there’s a lesson there.

When I Worked

July 2011
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