Ever since my husband John and I moved into a log home ten years ago, we have become one with nature. Deer and wild turkey have been known to wander through our back yard. Woodpeckers wake us up almost every morning and at night you can hear the owls in the moonlight. Almost every creature of the wilderness has set up nest in or around our home and our small rat terrier dog howls with the coyotes. Cute fluffy bunny rabbits scamper across our front porch as do big ugly toads and, much to my distress, we have even seen a snake or two.
Honestly, John and I love hearing the birds as they chirp and when one creates a nest on our porch we do everything to preserve it and their tiny eggs. We have fallen in love with nature. It is peaceful and beautiful, until it is not.
Like the time a skunk got into our house in the middle of the night and sprayed the dogs and all our living room furniture, causing us to lose everything soft in the house. Stuff like blankets, towels and cushioned chairs. Virtually anything that could absorb the skunks odor had to be thrown out. I do not want to get into too many details right now but I do recommend you read all about it in my story “Chaos Theory”, which was originally published March 31, 2015. https://www.lifeismysterious.com/curiosities/chaos-theory/
Bees, wasps and hornets are a whole other subject, especially when they set up a hive in your ceiling and a honey like substance drips from the rafters above your head and you have to call a beekeeper to assess how to remove the thousands and thousands of bees. Or when the giant wood borer bees take aim at your home making it look like Swiss cheese. Yes, these stinging creatures are not as welcome as, let’s say, the furry bunny. And let’s not forget when a young lady was at my home and got bit and proceeded to swell up like a balloon, have her face go numb and have to be rushed to the emergency room only to find out she was highly allergic to stinging insects. Note to anyone highly allergic- do not come to a log house without an Epi-pen.
All this brings me to this weekend when we had another encounter with the wild. Actually, it started a few weeks ago when my 160 pound English mastiff dog named Bob was letting a squirrel into our house while we were gone. How do I know he let it in? Well, I had a very large bowl of apples on my dinning room table and everyday one of the apples would be nibbled away at and laying by the back door. The bites were extremely tiny so it had to be from something small. After two weeks of the apple bandit depleting our supply, we saw a squirrel take one of my tomatoes off my back porch container garden, leading us to believe tomatoes were only an option when apples were not available.
John and I were amused at the thought that our big bully of a dog would allow this tiny creature in our house to steal our apples. God knows if this was a person they would have been shredded, but somehow this squirrel was able to make his way through the doggie door and pass Bob without incident.
A few weeks went by and we forgot about our apple eating squirrel friend when all of a sudden I hear John yell from the bedroom. In his hand was a washcloth wrapped around a baby squirrel. It seems my dogs have become caretakers to these squirrels, first feeding them and now giving them a place to sleep on my side of the bed where the rat terrier, Andie, sleeps.
Not knowing what to do, we laid the baby squirrel outside on a high table out of reach of the dogs in hopes his mother would find him, as we had lunch plans with friends and had to leave.
On the way, as John drove, I researched baby squirrels and how to care for them in case it was still there and alive when we returned.
I found out some very interesting facts, none the least was that squirrel mothers almost never abandon their young. I also discovered that even if humans have touched the baby, the mother will never reject their pup (learning also that a baby squirrel is a pup). The more I read about these tiny plume-tailed creatures the more I fell in love with them. And to think at one time in my life, I fried some squirrel and ate them, but that is another story for another time.
The fact that squirrel mothers are fiercely in love with their young really warmed my heart. And then I read another heartwarming fact about them. Squirrels will never leave another squirrel’s pup to suffer or die. They will take it in and raise it. So even if this squirrel’s mother did not find him maybe another one would and they would take care of it.
It is with this thought in our head that we were able to enjoy the day and not worry about the tiny squirrel pup on the back porch table wrapped up in a washcloth, as we had hopes he would be gone. Either reunited with his mother or taken in by another squirrel family.
As we approached our house, we barely pulled into the driveway and came to a full stop before we both jumped out of the car and ran to the back porch only to discover that the wash cloth was still there but it’s inhabitant was gone.
As we stood there looking at the empty washcloth, I could not help but think that we had just witnessed a miracle of nature. One of God’s tiny creatures instinctively knew that even if the mother did not come back they would take the pup and care for it as its own. This singular thought put a smile on my face because I new the baby squirrel was going to be alright whether the mother found him or not.
Then just like that John grabbed the washcloth off the table and we headed back into the house. But before we even reached the threshold of the doorway, I turned to John and said, “Just think. If humans were as kind and caring as squirrels are to one another, imagine what the world would be like if everyone took care of others in need.”
The words that came from my mouth had not been thought out. Just like John, I was hearing them for the first time. It was almost as if my subconscious mind developed vocal cords and spoke. Once the words were out there in the air, my conscious mind took over and it hit me like a brick. Sadness.
Why do we not instinctively help one another? How is it that a tiny squirrel, who’s brain is the size of a walnut, has a heart the size of a mountain?
I hope one day when books are written about the human species, they will be able to say that we never abandon our young. And if a child is ever separated from it’s mother, we make sure it is cared for and loved. Yes, that is my hope. But today, this is just a squirrel’s tale. Life is mysterious.