Thursday, October 7, 2010

Little Red is in love with me © by adrian

The squirrel whisperer, Episode #5

I should probably say she might be in love, I just can't be sure. Honestly though, maybe it's just a crush. I hope that's all it is, but I assure you, infatuation can be just as demanding as love. She's definitely in love with my nuts (lord knows, been there, done that!). I know it's entirely my fault, but I swear I had no idea things would get so far out of hand and turn out like this.

Let me explain how she and I got into this dreadful cross species predicament.

My bride bought a cottage in the Laurentians with her step-sister a few years ago (see my story, Little Adri’s big adventure) and during the summer we now spend some of our dotage there.

There, by the way, is full of hills and trees and water and oh yeah, adorable tiny red squirrels (or irritating, depending on your viewpoint). Previous readers of my ramblings know that I spend some of my time communicating with squirrels (or thinking I do). I love the constant state of perceived Italian excitement they seem to be in and I like talking to them. Even when they lie out with me on the back porch at home, I just know their minds are constantly busy thinking about when or from where their next adventure will appear.

Grey and Black squirrels definitely have an identifiable form of communication and I'm sure most readers have heard them squawking and yelling at each other or at us two legs. There is also much that can be stated or implied by flicking one's tail, as any woman would know. Some of the sounds they make are very bird like, so they often go unnoticed but they always definitely have seemingly important things to say to us and each other. Red squirrels on the other hand, apparently don't have the need to deal with us two legs much and mostly flee whenever they see us coming. They seem to be constantly in motion and the only sounds I had ever heard them make were a loud almost barking sound that I just assumed was their way of squawking at us. I'd never bothered trying to communicate with them because among other things, I presumed that squirrels of the Laurentians would use some local French dialect I wouldn't understand anyway.

A couple of years ago, we encountered a red whose name was Big Red and he was under the impression that the cottage belonged to him. He was obviously quite angry that we were squatting in his home.

Every time we would go inside the house he would jump to a ledge in the porch and yell at us as though we were the intruders. He would stand up and defiantly bark at us without moving an inch until we were able to finally shoo him out the door. I would bark back at him and explain that he was mistaken and wild animals were required to live outdoors, whether they liked it or not. He didn't agree with us and would be casually resting on the sofa every time we got home.

One day when we came down the hill to go inside the house he decided to confront us outside. He was twenty feet up a tree and started yelling at us to stay away. So I started yelling back. My form of rodent speak is really just to mimic as best I can the sounds they make, so we had a yelling contest.

All of a sudden he went very quiet and then after a few moments of silence he began to make the most unbelievable throaty cooing noise and then began a high pitched trilling sound while constantly running up and down the tree in obvious excitement. I had never heard anything like it in my life. He would coo and trill at almost the same time and was obviously beside himself with excitement. He then came down the tree to within a foot of my face and just stayed there staring at me while constantly cooing. I swear he looked at me adoringly. I had no idea what I had said, but he immediately decided that whatever I wanted, he would do. Now I need to quickly add that I don't think in that little bit of time I learned to speak French Canadian red squirrel. I honestly think the language breakthrough is really more about effort than actual squirrel speak. I believe the little dears at some point simply decide that if a two legs is going to make that much effort to talk to them, they should be allowed into the circle. From that moment on, Big Red never bothered us in the house again and would trill and coo at me whenever I showed up.

Later on, we met Little Scruffy.

Generally speaking, reds are very fastidious and tidy looking. Always immaculately groomed and clean. Little Scruffy was the exception and was the messiest unkempt back alley looking rodent we'd ever seen. He was full of swagger and obviously tough, a true street urchin. You just knew by looking at him that he was a mischievous terror. Whenever he showed up Big Red and all the other squirrels immediately fled.

One day I was conscripted to take down a large backyard galvanized metal shed so I got my sledge hammer and started demolishing it. Little Scruffy got into a tree above me and started watching. To pass the time I started to talk to him and made my usual goofy sounds in order to pretend I knew the secret language. Well, it didn't take long before he started to run up and down the tree, trilling and cooing like crazy. He got an immediate crush on me and wouldn't leave the area all day even though I was making a tremendous racket smashing at the shed. Every time I would stop to relax he would come down the tree and lie on the ground nearby staring at me affectionately, continuing to coo all the while. I saw him on a few other days after that and every time he saw me he would run over to me like a puppy and start cooing.

Now Little Red, well, she is something else again.

She lives in an old wooden shed near the house and has been in crush with me since we first met a few years ago. A few days after I first arrive every spring she always realizes I'm on site and starts calling to me. It must be love because she bats her eyes at me now and has on occasion brought pine cones from her secret stash over to me and drops them at my feet when I go outside.

If I don't see her nearby I call to her and she will be on the roof of the shed in no time at all cooing and making her trilling call. Some mornings she will sit outside and call to me and won't stop until I go out and give her a peanut. My bride Linda is amazed that Little Red has trained me so well in such a short time. She has asked Little Red to give her some pointers, but so far to no avail. When other people stay at the cottage they say they see her maybe once or twice but I see her almost every day and we always have time for a little chat together.

I've set aside an area of the shed that we've marked as hers and she's filled it up with shreddings, leaves and pine cones so I know she's looking forward to a comfortable winter. She has asked me to stay the winter but runs off in a pique screaming at me when I ask her if she has any ideas on where I could find a large fur coat so I could be comfortable living in the shed with her.

I will be going back to close up the cottage in a few weeks and have one more chance to spend a bit of time with her before winter sets in. Then it's back to waiting for the spring so we can get together again and share stories of what we did in the long dark months of winter.

Little Red doesn't seem to care too much that I'm married and I have to confess, when I look at how beautiful she is and listen to the alluring things she says to me, I don't care much either.

Long distance love affairs are always fraught with difficulties but when you add this cross species business to the mix it's almost downright impossible. I think next year I will try to set her up with a computer so we can email each other during our absence. She has such exquisitely long paws so I'm sure she would master typing in no time at all.