Michael's Rediscovery of Nature

Ramblings and observations of a former biologist and a lifelong naturalist, who has recently returned to his roots in east Texas. After a many years of working from coast to coast in an industry far removed from biology, it has been a pleasant change of geography, activity, and attitude. No stressful job decked out in a three piece suit. No city living. Instead there is a rediscovery of the woods, of something scurrying through the leaves, of the clear notes of a bird call, and of reliving the joy that I had when nature was a playground and a classroom.

Never Mind Taking Time to Smell the Roses; Take Time to Paint the Squirrels Toenails

LOP Squirrel0614

It is hard to beat a weekend like this.  I woke up at 4am which is not my favorite time of day.  Actually, for much of my life that hour is closer to my bedtime than a time I would wake up. 

A little before dawn I got up, walked and took pictures (as usual), then came back to the RV.  I have spent most of the morning in and out; watching the Sunday morning news shows; watching the birds, squirrels and my new resident, the chicken, at my feeders; and sitting for a while in the warm sun.

Pleasant morning watching all the different species of birds coming and going: chickadees, English sparrows, titmice, the pair of cardinals who have a nest about fifteen feet away, a few cowbirds, and, of course, the mockingbirds are out in their usual numbers.  

I have two breeding pair of mockingbirds on my lot.  One is in the front corner and the other in the back corner.  They actually get along quite well although there are the usual little shows of machismo but it never lasts long.  They save their battles for the squirrels.  

Squirrels are in relative abundance, but only one small family group actually spends much time around the feeders.  There is a large female and her three pups. They all used to be fairly timid around me, but that is changing.  They worry much less about me than the mockingbirds which seem to enjoy swooping down and giving them a good peck in the head now and then.  When all four squirrels are around the yard, this happens quite often.  It only takes a couple of pecks to discourage the mother who wanders off to less exciting feeding areas.  The pups are not that easily deterred.  

Sitting there in the warm sun, enjoying the show this morning, I thought about "taming" the squirrels.  By that I mean getting them conditioned to me so they would come to me for food - not exactly the most difficult accomplishment with squirrels.  I was about to type in a note on my "To Buy" list on my iPhone to remind me to get some dried corn cobs or something for them.  Then I had this horrible thought.  It jumped into my head and I was in the midist of accepting it when I realized that just isn't right.  The thought was that I didn't have time to tame the squirrels.  I was too busy; had too much to do.   

What is wrong with me?  Am I slipping back into that foolish lifestyle where I had to do things; to accomplish things: and failed to have time to do what I really enjoyed?  Hey!  <Insert bad word here>.

Now before we get carried away about the cute little squirrels, let's make sure we understand the issue.  I like squirrels, but they are not a big deal to me.  They, like almost any animal, are interesting in some ways and it is always fun to hand feed almost anything (in the right setting - in the RV park, not off in the woods).  But none of this is about squirrels.  

Last year when I changed my life in one fell swoop, it was a huge change.  I worked seven days a week, most often for 15 or more hours a day.  In the previous 8 years, I had taken off for one three day trip to south Padre.  There is no need to get back into all of those days, but I made that choice to get away from it and fell into bliss.  I don't remember even seeing a squirrel in all that time and that is a fact.  Not only is it a fact, it is a sad fact.  I saw work and that's all.

Slowly, some of that has been slipping back in.  I have been taking jobs a lot more often since February and I find myself adding more dates on my calendar for appointments, work days, etc.  

No, that's not going to work.

Don't have time to feed the squirrels?  Yeah, right.  

I am heading to WalMart for some corn.  Those squirrels had better get ready for only getting corn cobs when they are on my lap.  And if it doesn't take enough time to tame them to enough to do that, I may buy some fingernail polish to paint their toenails.  Getting them to sit still and let me paint their toe nails?  Now that should really take some time.

Let's see.  What color would look good on a squirrel?   




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Wednesday, 11 December 2019
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