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Posts Tagged ‘animals’

“If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.” – George Eliot

Some squirrels can be downright sassy. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Unlike all the other squirrels my canine traveling companion, Maggie, and I approached in the park early this morning, one didn’t quickly scamper away at the sight of us.

It held its ground, engaging us in a stare off. We got to within about 20 feet of it before Maggie could stand it no longer. With a sudden spurt of energy, she raced toward it.

She had 25-feet before her retractable leash would pull her up short, but she stopped before she hit the end. I think she knew, even before she started the chase, that she didn’t have a chance. She’s had a lot of experience with sassy squirrels during our many walks.

A small widow's tear blossom beneath a bush finally got my brain off squirrels and onto the wonders that Mother Nature always surprises me with when I take a walk. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The squirrel, which of course had headed up the nearest tree, was now looking down from a low branch chattering away in what could only be scorn for our intrusion. It had decided we were trespassers, that it owned the park and we had no business being here.

What, I wondered, had made this squirrel challenge us while all the others ran away.

It was like asking what makes some humans adventurous and some timid, why some of us love roller coaster rides and others shun what they consider such dangerous tomfoolery.

I often see parallels between animals and humans. I guess that’s why they’re often used to describe us humans, as in sly as a fox, slow as a snail, graceful as a cat, stubborn as a mule or swift as an eagle.

I never heard one, however, comparing us to a squirrel. What, I wondered would the adjective be: Sassy, brave, quick or foolish came to mind.

That squirrel hadn’t just taunted Maggie, it had taunted my brain.

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A rabbit quietly sits near my RV ... Photo by Pat Bean

 “Forever is composed of nows.” Emily Dickinson 

White-tailed deer ... Photo by Pat Bean

Animal life here at Farragut State Park goes about its daily passage of time in view of My RV window. I watch a constant stream of rabbits hopping among the shadows of the trees, noisy squirrels chattering as they scamper on the branches above, mourning doves and dark-eyed juncos picking at the bird seed I scattered, colorful butterflies flitting by, a black-chinned hummingbird drinking from my small nectar feeder, and an occasional deer sauntering through the woods. 

My heart welcomes such sights and I ask myself why these simple animals give me so much pleasure. I pondered this for a long time before deciding there was no simple answer. 

Their lives speak of freedom to me, yet I know these animals have things to fear: Raptors and coyotes ever looking for a meal, hunters with guns, and even Mother Nature herself when she decides to stage a stormy tantrum. 

The alarm call of chickadees when a sharp-shinned hawk is nearby, the fake injury performance of a killdeer to lead predators away from its chicks, the quick scampering away of rabbits at the slightest noise and the cautious look around before a deer abandons the safety of the forest tells me these animals are not unaware of the dangers. 

Is this so different from the anxiety and stress humans have for finding a job, feeding their families, securing a roof over their heads, and for me these days, worrying about a loved one soon to be deployed to Afghanistan. Mother Nature even taunts us with hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. 

I guess life wasn’t meant to be easy. We probably wouldn’t appreciate it if it was. 

A butterfly briefly settles ... Photo by at Bean

Watching animals live their life outside my window puts me in the moment. And perhaps this is the best reason of all of why I enjoy doing it so much. We can’t change what happened yesterday, and worrying about tomorrow is useless – unless we’re actually doing something to make tomorrow better, and the only way we can do that is to live in the moment. 

 The animals going about their daily business in sight of my RV window remind me of this. And for that I’m thankful.

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