Squirrels apparently have a lot in common with rabbits: Willow is caring for her SECOND litter right now. For those keeping score, that’s one mamma birthing TWO litters of Eastern Greys in six months. At this rate, we are going to run out of cigars.
The Resident Carpenter’s office is gonna look like a squirrel restaurant. In the meantime, Willow’s looking just as frazzled and tired as you’d expect.
We’re not sure of the father–last time there was a skinny little boysquirrel who wouldn’t let Willow out of his sight, so the paternity was obvious.
Willow is a freethinking, liberated womansquirrel, so for all we know, she had a one night stand with a chipmunk. Or, given Willow’s well-known ferocity, coulda been a bobcat.
Now, SOME people will respond to Willow’s second litter with weary, slut-shaming, welfare-mothering cant:
“Already?!? She just had one litter and there she goes again, partying all hours and having irresponsible sex. She probably WANTED to get pregnant, just to increase her nut allocation.”
Not me; I’m too busy marveling at her strength and efficiency. Last year this time, Willow was a tiny pink wormy thing named William, helplessly nuzzling our hands and figuring out how to use a baby bottle. Now she’s an independent wild squirrel lording it over the backyard, AND managing newborns AND mothering the unruly trio of teenagers from her first litter.
Warning: Sadness ahead
Make that “PAIR of teenagers,” not a trio. One of Willow’s first litter is gone, we think, to that great nuthole beyond the sky. The RC found a sad little baby squirrel pelt at the foot of the redwood tree, headless and tailless, commingling with the bark dust.
It likely belonged to the friendly little explorer who repeatedly went on walkabout with an exasperated Willow chasing after. He boldly greeted Nate on the trunk of the redwood, instinctively trusting this 6-foot-2 monster with the giant playful hands. Remember this?
Curiosity and bold friendliness are bad habits when you’re low on the food chain. I read somewhere that the average lifespan of a tree squirrel is around one year, due mostly to predation (in captivity they can live 20 years). This poor little fella didn’t even make it that far before becoming a crow’s lunch. Ours was a pretty depressed household when we discovered this; tears were shed and vengeance was vowed.
The next crow in backyard will probably get the sharp end of The RC’s blowgun darts. Nathan doesn’t often hold a grudge and he has an unmatched reverence for wilderness critters. But this is his GRANDSQUIRREL we’re talking about, and on that subject he’s pretty much “take no prisoners.”
Get in line, Nate. Despite the whole “nature, red in tooth and claw” cycle of life crap, I’m of a mind to wring that bloody crow’s neck.
Screw environmental equanimity.
The remaining babies are a bit spooked and a lot more cautious, about the only good thing to come of that. They’ll follow their mamma up the branches that lead to the hole in the windowscreen, but retreat in terror if they spot a human, despite Nathan’s food-laden coaxings.
Caution is good for little squirrels. Not turning Nate’s office into a giant squirrel commune is even better.
We briefly toyed with the idea of selling the house, moving to a more wildernessy location closer to our beloved coastline, which could support more studio space, a full blacksmith’s forge and carpenter shop, the ability to walk out the backdoor to a favorite fishing hole or boat dock… yet be high enough to avoid any record-breaking tsunamis.
Not likely to happen, not with Willow populating the neighborhood with grandsquirrels. Moving away from them would probably break our hearts. We aren’t doing so much as a sparkler for July 4, at least not on the property: Fireworks scare baby squirrels.
Even the cats refuse to leave Willow and the grandsquirrels, though, admittedly, their interest is more culinary than sisterly.
The yard has rewarded our steadfastness with fruit. The spring color explosion died back to reveal more berries than we can possibly eat; the blueberry bushes are so heavy with fruit they’re dragging on the ground.
They’re just developing their first blushes, and are maybe a couple of weeks to richly edible. We couldn’t resist tasting one with a bit of blue: Tart, but the wine-dark blueberry richness shone through.
We’re already chowing down on raspberries and currants. There are two little apples on the tree, growing tomatoes and asparagus, and the potatoes are going wild.
We lost our grape vines to gardener predation–despite red tags on the trunk and fence where Nathan has carefully espaliered the vines, the gardeners decided they were weeds, and pulled them out by the roots.
Nathan was furious, I was incredulous, and the gardeners have ordered replacements. In the meantime, I’ve learned to love these little glimpses of a wilder, more innocent Pacific Northwest. Last week a young buck greeted me at the entrance to our street, patiently waiting by the stop sign on the corner.
I slowed and stopped the car, and he stepped into the street, exactly at the crosswalk. He nonchalantly crossed, hit the other corner and repeated the process, careful to cross only when the cars had stopped.
Then he strolled down the sidewalk like an overfull kid after Sunday dinner.
Nathan’s cup is overflowing these days: The carpentry business is good, the sturgeon are biting, and last night he was in a movie.
Called Dark Divide, it’s about a scientist who sets off to hunt rare butterflies in Oregon’s oldest old-growth forest but instead runs into Bigfoot. It stars the comedian David Cross, Deborah Messing, and a bunch of other movie star types. And Nathan.
Last year a friend sent me a notice of a casting call for extras to be in a Netflix series called Trinkets. I chuckled, grabbed up a few Nathan headshots and surreptitiously submitted him to be cast, then completely forgot about it until The RC casually mentioned that he was going to be on TV. He spent one night at an old Portland kiddie park playing a teenage girl’s parent; if you look very carefully in the now-aired episode you can see him twice: His cinnabar-colored back for a few seconds as he converses with his “wife” in the background and then his shoulder, briefly, in another scene.
Apparently the casting agency was impressed; when the movie’s director needed a Pacific Northwest type who could drive trucks with trailers, they called Nathan. This time he’s the photo double for a dirt biker who picks up David Cross, star of the movie and one of Nathan’s favorite actors, to drive him up a mountain ridge to his car. David Cross was very nice, very funny, and very approving of Nathan’s performance, and the director and crew went out of their way to make Nathan feel at home.
When the movie comes out, Nathan will be an actor’s shoulder, arm, and neck, in the scene right before Bigfoot hurls a boulder through a windshield.
Next step: He needs to get his FACE into the picture, and after that, a speaking role. He’s got the acting bug so he’s falling into my long term retirement plans: Selling Resident Carpenter autographs and t-shirts.