Monday, November 10, 2008

It's the Fluffy Tail

Yesterday was another warm, gorgeous day here, so I headed up to Fort Tryon Park. All these photos are from that walk.
The batteries in my camera died part-way through the walk. I still managed to get close to 200 shots, but it was probably good for me to spend a fair amount of time just walking, seeing things without feeling the need to capture and freeze them. Sometimes taking pictures means I'm not actually present to what I'm doing. It was good just to look.

Nonetheless I was sorry not to have the camera at one point. I and several other folks were standing by a stone wall overlooking the West Side Highway, the Hudson, and off in the distance, the sun setting behind the George Washington bridge. One guy nearby had a beer, a boom box, and a bag of nuts. I think they were acorns.
Lots of people come to this park to feed the pigeons and squirrels. The latter are quite unafraid of people consequently. More than once I've had one come up to with a hopeful look, simply because I had been standing still in one place for too long. At one point one creature trotted purposefully past me on the wall. I think if I'd been between her and the goodies, she would have walked over me, or maybe pushed me out of the way. The amorous couple next to me didn't phase her either. She dashed over to the bag, stuck her head in, pulled out a nut, started away, then for reasons known only to her, she dropped that nut, went back for another, finally trotting back to sit about six inches from me to eat it. I have no idea what was wrong with the first one (the nut guy and I both asked her, but she didn't respond), nor do I know why she decided she needed to eat it not near the bag, not off somewhere else, but facing me. But she did. Seriously, no more than six inches divided us. I really wish I'd had the camera then, but she took her time with that nut, so I got to study her silky grey and white fur, her big brown eyes (almost Disney-like), her luxurious tail, and her cute little paws. Once she finished the first nut, she went back to pick up the previously discarded one, before leaving to be about her business. Maybe that one was only good for burying. Maybe she was saving it for someone special.
This funny little encounter reminded me of an experience Brian and I had while visiting his family in Cape Breton.
Now before I tell this story, I want to make very clear that Brian is as butch as they come. He's a stud of the highest order, and I am in no way impugning his masculinity when I explain that early on in our relationship he made it clear that it would be my job to deal with any wayward fauna found in the apartment: cockroaches, mice, rats and the like. Specifically, it would be my job to see to it that they left the apartment, preferably dead, but really they just needed to go, so he wouldn't see them anymore. At one point he sent me into the bathroom to deal with a water bug that had driven him from the shower. If you've never seen a New York City water bug, then you don't know that these things are hard to miss, especially in a room as tiny as our bathroom. The floor shakes when they run. These things look prehistoric. They're unnerving at the best of times, but are particularly disquieting when one is naked and sudsy. So I was nothing if not sympathetic, I had accepted this job after all, so I went in to slay it... and I couldn't find it anywhere. Presumably it had gone back down whatever hole it came out of and I tried to tell Brian this. He looked at me blankly for a moment then said,
"tell me it's dead."
So, this was our understanding. I'd say it worked pretty well. Back to Cape Breton, we had been out somewhere for most of the day, and had just come back to his grandmother's trailer, where we were staying. We walked in the front door... and something skittered over by the couch. We may have seen a flash of something too, I can't quite remember, but somehow we both knew it was a rodent. I moved stealthily towards it. Brian went to stand close to the door, no doubt to make sure the mouse or rat ran out of the trailer, rather than down the hall into the bedroom. I'm sure he wasn't planning on making a break for it. I continued my stalking; it skittered behind the curtains covering the big picture window (this is one of your fancier trailers). I leaped at the window and pulled back the curtain to expose our quarry. It froze. I froze. We regarded one another for a moment.
It was a little squirrel. Absolutely adorable. Fluffy tail, little paws, round ears, big brown eyes, it had it all. We continued to stare at one another.
Behind me a quiet voice said,
"Can we keep him?"

Yup, it really is the fluffy tail. Not sure why that makes the difference. But it does.


Greg said...

Oh, what gorgeous light in your photos! The colors are just amazing.

When my batteries die, I am often disappointed, but also a little grateful to be freed of having to record the moment...and only live in it. I'm glad you got to do that.

And yes, I pondered this at length when rats were in the feeder last winter: the tail makes all the difference!

Java said...

Love the story about Brian and the squirrel! I really like squirrels. Do rats have such adorable Disney eyes like squirrels do? I've never noticed. I'm too busy being revolted by the tail.

Ghost In Reverse said...

Visiting the blog for the first time.
You have great photos (an incredible light indeed) and a really good sense of storytelling!
It made me regret NYC, The Cloisters where i loved spending afternoons reading and enjoying the sunset.
Keep up the good work!

Birdie said...

I was in our back yard in FL, lying in the hammock strung between two oaks. It was idyllic, watching the squirrels scampering through the branches above. Until I realized that the squirrels had hairless tails. Ewww! I was being entertained by rats the size of squirrels! I shuddered and went inside.

I like your story much better.

Word verification: hotbug - any insect skittering through the shower to avoid the hot water.

tornwordo said...

Those pictures are like paintings. With the sun low in the sky these days, I find the photos much easier to get.

johnmichael said...

Awesome pictures...great story about the squirrel. Made me think of a child "can we keep it?".

Anonymous said...

Lovely images as always. As for the squirrels, I too have admiration for their beauty, agility and curiosity. However, around our house, they tend to be overly destructive.

two years ago we had a family of them decide one of the cabins would make a nice habitat for them... so they chewed through the 30 year old siding, sheet rock, insulation, plumbing, and anything else... that little 300 sq ft cabin took about 40K to make fit for humans again.

Those were mighty tasty little squirrels though!


Butch said...

Very beautiful pictures of the autumn. Definitely, my favorite season.