July 14, 2009
I'd like everyone to meet "Smokey"! She is a real character, has been a very welcomed guest to the yard and a part of our lives for 4 years now; so I am not sure if that brings her closer to 5 now or maybe a bit older?
There's usually around 6 to 10 Squirrels in the yard at times, yet only a few ever get a name that sticks. You've met Jigger. Others not mentioned, some gone but not forgotten, include Blutto, Bandit and every year one gets titled "Nipples" for obvious reasons.
Smokey has been like family, and if she would live in the house with us, we'd probably let her. Meadow approves of Squirrels unlike her feelings towards other Cats. We've talked about how if we ever moved that we would have to take Smokey with us; but I think we will remain here for some time yet. With that, I have always wondered about the life span of the common Squirrel of these parts. It's rather confusing really... many do not make it to a ripe old age dying of a natural death (cars, predators, humans and their constant destruction of habitat, etc). In my research, a typical Squirrel of this species can live 5 to 7 years. There are reports of Squirrels in captivity living up to 20 years. What a difference!
She is showing her age these days. Her attitude has changed also. The once ever so playful, un-shy girl is now more cautious and reserved. I miss her days of climbing all over us, sitting at the picnic table during a meal, entertaining our guests with her little "tricks" for a peanut as you will see in some photos below. My father always loved her rooting through his coat pockets for a peanut. She has been coming around a little more lately, she knows we got the peanuts but her cautiousness makes me sad. We had such fun together over the years; what has happened? Is this part of aging? Does she not completely remember? Has something happened to her through the last winter, like a bad experience with people, and she is not as trusting anymore? If this is the case, it's probably for the better. As I've said before, I do worry about some of the more tame Squirrels approaching the wrong person in their travels and end up getting hurt. Neighbors of mine have thought some of these so tame Squirrels are actually attacking me.
There are a lot of stories that I could share about Smokey and perhaps another time I will.
The only one I want to share at this moment, which shows how much we adore her is this... in her younger years we saw her daily and it didn't matter much on the season either. The last couple years have had her disappearing for many days at a time and even more recently weeks to a couple months! I realize that one day Smokey just isn't going to come back. The worst part of that will be the not knowing what happened to her. So, in her absences before, we'd worry and call her, keep an eye for her every chance at home during the daylight. I bought a clear plastic magnet picture frame, put one of Smokey's photos in it and it sticks up on the inside of the back door. I wonder if guests take notice to it or not? Smokey has always made my time out in the yard more memorable and enjoyable. Two summers ago, just after I put that photo up and Smokey was absent for over a week, I was walking over to the corner store. I am always paying attention to that around me, seeing who I recognize in my travels and I sure don't mean people. Suddenly there is this gray Squirrel on the other side of the street. I call out "Smokey!" and she came running. She climbed up the fence next to me, looking me in the eyes and I pulled out a peanut for her. I scolded her for not being around and for being out on the street (a couple sitting on their porch must'a thought I was crazy). I didn't care. I was just so happy to see her. Her disappearing tricks are conditioning me to the day, hopefully not any time soon, when she will be gone and not coming back. I only hope she is going to be another one of my furry friends that I meet at Rainbow Bridge one day...
Enjoy the photos below and see why Smokey is in our hearts always...
Angie is standing in this photo. Smokey jumped up to her from the old deck rail.
Smokey and I with a small piece of wood. That board is still hanging around the yard. This is the summer I caught Misfit (the Budgie)... there's the bird cage way down at the back of the yard.
Me, Smokey and the stick again. I like the glimmer of light above my hand in this shot. It appears that Smokey is reaching up to it.
Angie and Smokey again. This was part of our weekend morning coffee ritual. I hope Ang isn't mad at me for posting these early in the day shots.