Westward. Ho.

Well, I see Molly — a red-squirrel I’ve had my eye on — is dining in my birdfeeder. Like diamonds lure cat burglars, birdfeeders are catnip to squirrels. Red squirrels belong in forests and woodlands. Grey squirrels occupy cities. Grey squirrels have short tails and are neurotic.

For a couple of years, I have watched from the window by my computer, Molly, the red squirrel, and a male gray squirrel live their lives. I watched Molly slap the gray squirrel. He had surprised her and forgot foreplay. I kid you not. She slapped him and he left. Within fifteen minutes, he returned and slowly approached Molly. When he got close enough the gray squirrel began to nudge her neck. This pleased her. She let him chase her across the telephone lines.

I have watched them coo like doves and twitter in conversation like couples whispering to each other. They fight like catbirds. Like the like birdsat each other as if they were birds. Like trapeze artists, they frolic about above the earth on lines suspended from pole to pole. I share space with Molly and Mr. Gray Squirrel. We share a neighborhood. The suspended commerce lines stretch among a canopy of trees outside our home.

Molly is an adventurous little creature, tenacious, and stubborn. Molly is out of place, like me. She should reside among trees, a stand of pine, or a wood filled with oak and Hawthorne.

It is my opinion that somehow she followed Mr. Gray Squirrel west. After all that is how the American west got settled…women following men over the next bluff, the next hill, the next mountain, the next desert. But I digress.

This spring, Molly has caught my eye. I have not seen the grey squirrel recently; he is probably away on business. Molly is an adventurous little creature, tenacious, and stubborn; very probably, she is a single female in a strange town. Her originally intended home is far away. She could be a divorced single-mother.

Nature intended her species; her family would dwell in the woods and forests, a stand of pine, or a wood filled with oak and Hawthorne. What is she doing in this desert? And she seems quite content with city life.

It was a given that she would dine in my birdfeeder. She planned her assault well, and took her time. Her first visit was Sunday for brunch. However, she was immediately spotted by Sassy. My ten-pound, guardian Pomeranian keeps vigil on her world from her perch which is conveniently located on the back of a brocade-chair. On sight, some primal-dormant gene kicked in, Sassy thrust her short snout towards heaven, and howled like a feral hound. With the swiftness of a swooping Kingfisher, Molly disappeared.

Today, as Sassy slept, Molly returned. It took a moment, but I noticed a vacuum in the city, something was missing. Birdsong, the birds were silent. I looked and there Molly sat dining. I watched her for a while. Then, I half-heartedly made an attempt to encourage Molly to leave the bird feeder, but, when I stepped on the patio, she didn’t run away. She looked at me, studied me, plain, with her tiny, brown-almond eyes, then she scurried along the patio’s ledge towards where I was standing. She was pleading her case. I bought it.

I went to the pantry and retrieved the only nuts we had in the house, salted almonds and returned to the patio. She continued to eat with an eye on me. Not wanting to scare Molly silly, I did not move. Molly continued to eat.

I held out an almond to Molly. She allowed me to lay the almonds at her feet in the birdfeeder. She picked it up and did not mind the salt coating. She held the brown almond with both hands and began to daintily nibble it while standing at attention.

When she finished the almonds, she seemed to sense that the feast had ended. She studied my smile before I said, “shoo.” She dropped from sight, but quickly a paw appeared on the other side of the ledge. She pulled her fat little body up to the ledge and gave me one last chance to change my mind. “Yes, it is time to leave,” I said.

She dropped out of sight. When I looked over the ledge, Molly was sitting on a water spout that ran beneath the patio floor, I smiled down at her. She gave me a glance and blithely jumped for a limb of an overhanging tree limb.

Molly will be back. Like a wild kitten, she will return to where she was fed. She will return as long as my neighbor does not have his trees trimmed. Then, she will have to reconfigure her path.

In the meantime, I need a plan. Squirrels present problems in patio paradise. I have a squirrelly past. My fondness of squirrels once innocently set off Aunt Nancy’s rapid Fool Alarm and created a memory I shall never forget. .

What happened is this…I visited Aunt Nancy most often at even-tide. She kept two plastic chairs inside the carport for my visits. When I arrived, as I was parking my car, she would bring out the chairs. In the next half-hour or so, we would speak of assorted subjects as we watched the colors of purple and gold dance about in the western sky. One fall, I noticed a squirrel that came each evening to look for spilled bounty beneath the bird feeder/fountain.

One afternoon, I brought her a gift. It was a squirrel survival kit. It was fall. The gift-box contained a squirrel feeder. I bought it at Lowe’s, and I included a bag of corn cobs. She was incensed, mad enough to spit; she was enraged that I would bring food for rodents.

This comment came from a woman who once ate Brunswick stew. Maybe, that was why she reacted in such a way? She never liked Brunswick stew? I didn’t linger. When Aunt Nancy’s Rapid Fool Alarm is set off; it is best to clear out. I picked up my pride, my corn cobs, and handy-dandy squirrel feeder and bowed out. I never brought up the subject, again. Aunt Nancy scared me.

Sometimes, I notice a streak of Aunt Nancy in him, just a slight one, but enough to keep me in line. I will not mention Molly, just yet.

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