Monday, November 16, 2009

The Visit

The door was strangely empty tonight when I came home. I'm used to Olive and Duncan waiting for me, ready to entwine themselves around my ankles and knees as I struggle to the bedroom where I change from shoes into snow boots. Olive, the most talkative of the children, meows and chitters as she follows me, dodging Dunc as his butt shimmies back and forth, his chirp nearly drowning out her questions. But this evening I stood in the door alone wondering why I wasn't being accosted. It wasn't until after I'd put down my lunch bag that I figured it out. All four of the children were lined up in front of the glass patio doors, smallest to largest, as though they'd rehearsed. Only Winnie looked over her shoulder at me, mewed softly then turned back to the scene on the patio.

It seems a single squirrel had found the soft rug I'd left out to dry after being washed on Saturday. It was sitting right in the middle of it, its tail bobbing up and down as it looked back at the eight eyes focused in its direction. I smiled and relaxed, knowing I had time to rinse out my lunch containers before changing my clothes and heading out into the snow with Duncan. When the time finally came I practically had to drag him to the door and down the stairs. I figured the squirrel would be gone by the time we returned, but an hour later it was still sitting there watching the cats.

I grabbed a handful of peanuts and pushed the cats out of the way, sliding past Dunc, who tried to slip around my knees and outside. When I slid the door open the squirrel clamored over the railing and scurried across the brick ledge, not going very far and keeping its head turned so it could watch me. I reached through the rail and plunked a couple of nuts down, then left a small trail back up onto the patio. Stepping back I listened to it squeak at me, and then slowly quiet down until its only sounds were a soft hum, quiet and comfortable. Soon I heard its nails scramble along the brick and then a brown nose poked between the railing. Its cheeks were full of peanuts as it slipped through and cautiously stepped toward me.

I glanced inside and saw the children lined up once again, their eyes darting from the squirrel to me and back again. Winnie's tail could not be contained as it jerked and spasmed at her side. Duncan's tail flapped against the carpet and I heard a soft whine rise up in his throat. One paw reached out and scratched the glass, causing my new friend to stiffen and retreat a few inches. Only when things calmed down again did he come forward. I dropped a few more peanuts on the cement in front of him and watched as he scooped them up. Then, very carefully, I held a peanut out in my hand and watched to see what he'd do. He hummed again, took a few tentative hops forward, sat back on his haunches and leaned toward me. I felt his paws curl around the thumb of my glove and his sharp nails grasp the peanut I held for him. Not once did he take his eyes from my face, and only when he had the treat did he retreat and eat it.

I was just about to coo at him and say some soft words when pandemonium erupted on the other side of the glass. Duncan jumped up, both paws on the sliding doors as he barked. The cats puffed up big, their tails fat and swollen three times their normal size. Pip yowled from somewhere deep down in his chest and scampered away, startling Winnie, who hissed at Olive before she scurried under the couch. Olive remained where she was, her big yellow eyes staring straight at me while Duncan's tail smacked her in the face. My new friend was gone in a flash and even though I tried to coax him back he refused to budge.

When I finally came inside, the warm air fogging my glasses, none of the children would look at me. Duncan sniffed my hand once, harumphed and snorted, then turned his back and sauntered away. Apparently they don't approve of my new friend.


caboval said...

OMG! Thats seriously funny!!!! I can just imagine everybody lined up, watching you!!! I am just loving your posts Curt! Hugs Joey and Kealani

Nik said...

You were supposed to catch the squirrel and give it to the children.

Greg said...

Mmmm, jealousy. Fun. You must admit While Walking Squirrelly conjurs up a completely other blog.

Sue said...

What a great story! Your babies must think you are a traitor!

Kevi said...

I love the cat tails...they are my favorite.