I’m gazing out on the fading rhododendrons and azaleas, the dogwood blossoms and iris, the lush banks of strawberries, the burgeoning berry vines and bushes (not kidding, the blueberry count will hit the THOUSANDS this summer unless the birds get there first, and we’re going to be drowning in raspberries).
On this Memorial Day, Glassland is doing its signature rain-and-gloom holiday, but it reads as a comforting reminder of why the Northwest is so richly foliaged. I think they call this climate “temperate rainforest” and if it only had about one thunderstorm a week, and maybe a couple of blizzards in the winter, it would be perfect.
Mine is the minority opinion; most people here long for the summer. I regard summer as a reminder of my overheated desert days, and comfort myself with the fact that it’s only a month or two before the rain returns.
Really, this yard is incredibly gorgeous in the spring, thanks to its former owners and Glassland’s famous Green Thumb of Enormity. The flipside, though, are the weeds: Pull one, and watch two more grow in its place. At the moment my gorgeous legacy yard is more Jungle Book than Secret Garden.
Willow the squirrel runs the backyard, chasing off interlopers, and chittering for the Resident Carpenter (who is sleeping in this morning). He usually appears instantly, so she’s getting a tad annoyed at his lack of cooperation. If she could find a way into his bedroom to demand food, she undoubtedly would.
Squirrels are, basically, incredibly bright eating machines, and Willow is no exception. I googled “squirrel diet” when she arrived last summer, and the first site I came to said squirrels were vegetarians.
Absolutely not true. Willow will chow down on beef jerky, dog treats, bits of burger, hardboiled eggs, you name it. There are videos online of squirrels catching small birds and eating them (or crickets, earthworms, whatever). She chews cuttlefish and eggshells and shells from the coast, both sharpening her teeth and obtaining needed calcium and magnesium.
But she’s not pregnant…we think. The ginormous nipples are gone from her belly, leaving her with…belly. Big belly. Apparently a squirrel’s job is to get as fat as possible in the shortest possible time. As far as the male squirrels are concerned, rotund Willow is the belle of the ball.
“Look at the top of her head,” the RC pointed out, “See where it’s bald? That’s where her boyfriend grabs her when they have sex. I’ve seen it in the backyard. The way they’re going at it, if she’s not already pregnant, she will be.”
Squirrel porn in the backyard. Great.
The books say squirrels will be sexually active much earlier than they are actually fertile. Maybe the nipple display, and Willow’s prior aggressive finger-biting and standoffishness, were actually signs of a sulky teenage squirrel preparing for mamma-hood.
Who knows? What’s surprised me with Willow is how absolutely ignorant I am of urban wildlife (or any wildlife, really). She’s constantly dumbfounding us. For example, she won’t eat hazelnuts and sneers at almonds, but would likely consume an entire 7-11’s worth of junk food if The Resident Carpenter allowed it.
Yesterday morning, as I sat in Nathan’s office window seat, Willow bounced in and ran up my back, over my shoulder, and across to Nathan in his chair. He unearthed my missing bag of whole, shelled COOKING pecans, and we took turns holding out nuts for her to snatch.
That lasted through maybe three nuts: What she really wanted were potato chips. She leapt to the end table, stood by the potato chip bag, and warned us that if we didn’t open up the chips NOW, she’d do it herself.
Willow’s idea of DIY comestibles leaves an ungodly mess, so Nathan hastily grabbed the bag and held out a chip. (This explains why our new bags of potato chips instantly vanish into parts unknown) She pounced on that slice of salty fried goodness, then jumped onto his hand to eat it.
“She’ll eat plain ones,” he explained, “But she really prefers the salt & vinegar chips.”
I swear, we should sell footage to potato chip companies. We’d make a fortune.