City people, be warned. If you think country-living is laid back, easy-going, a ramble in the woods, you may be in for a surprise. There are creatures living in close proximity to our house on the shores of Bayou Bartholomew that make going outside during these spring days of low humidity, fraught with danger. What am I talking about? Not alligators, no—I’m talking about fox squirrels, those red-tailed denizens that create nests in oak trees, tearing across lawns and running vertically up tree trunks, coming back down again to plunder bird feeders for as much seed as they can pack into their fat little cheeks. Let me tell you about this one evening after dinner while it was still light, I’d gone outside to check on my newly planted tomatoes.
There was Cassie the Cat, also known as Mama Cass, rolling on the ground showing off her perfectly white belly. But sitting on the nearby oak tree, sat a fox squirrel. He was not impressed with Cassie’s free show, clicked his tongue, and thrashed his red tail. It was a scene from Gone with the Wind—“Frankly my darling…” He didn’t care how white her belly was. She was encroaching on his turf and he wanted her to move her fluffy feet fast.
“Be gone, varlet” I cried, coming to Cassie’s rescue. I chased the squirrel up the tree. Instead, he wrapped himself around the right side of the trunk and nattered at me. Once again, I heaved my arms up in the air. This time, the squirrel popped out on the left side of the trunk and hissed. Can you imagine? Never believe that through daily husbandry, the squirrel is kin to Johnny Appleseed, helping to distribute and plant trees throughout the land. The furry ball was taunting me, tolerating my presence in his backyard. But for how long? The squirrel disappeared wearing a patch over its one eye. In the meantime, Cassie had relocated further down the parking strip, once again shamelessly exposing her belly.