Well it was another blustery morning as I headed out of the house and down to Council Point Park. The sky was streaked with gray blotches and there was no hint of sun, just that ever-present wind for the third day in a row. Once again, I hunched down into my coat to shield myself from the gusts and was grateful for my wool cap and warm gloves. Why does it always seem to be extraordinarily windy when it is garbage day in the neighborhood? I pondered that very question enroute to the Park, as I walked along sidewalks while simultaneously dodging trash that had either gone airborne or spilled out of cans that were careening down the street. I concluded there are definitely alot of pizza eaters in the ‘hood because a flock of seagulls were circling and swooping down angrily on the many pizza boxes that had flipped open and were skittering across sidewalks and lawns. The dregs of a large Jet’s square pepperoni and cheese pizza made a tasty breakfast for those birds and they argued loudly over which gull would get the last piece of sticky cheese that had oozed out and glommed onto the box lid. This prized morsel created a whole lotta screeching going on as they circled around the box with much wing flapping and aggressive chest bumps.
When I arrived at the Park, I stepped onto the perimeter path and set out to explore my usual haunts along the trail. Almost instantly, my peanut pals came out in force to greet me. As a general rule, I give each squirrel four unsalted peanuts a day. Sometimes I make an exception – if they are especially cute, circle my feet or beg they’ll get an extra peanut for “effort” as I depart. This morning I stopped along the path and as usual tossed out four peanuts to one squirrel who scrambled down a tree and happily came bounding over, sniffing around my walking shoe toe top, then positioned himself in front of his booty. He was the only squirrel around so he just sat in the middle of the semi-circle of peanuts. He sat contently munching on the first treat, when the wind caught a roundish peanut and sent it rolling down the path, just like a marble. I saw his head swivel to the side as he watched his treat roll away, but I guess he was confident that his cache was secure, since none of his brethren were around, so he just kept eating the peanut which he held between his front paws. A series of sounds resembling “wheet”, “wheet” and then a lingering whistle, signaled a cardinal was nearby so I stayed there, planted in place. I recognized the birdcall right away as I used to buy safflower seeds to attract the cardinals to my backyard and they often built their nests in my huge barberry bushes. Many times these red birds and I would whistle back and forth as I worked out in the yard. I looked up, and from my vantage point I saw a beautiful and regal-looking male cardinal in a nearby tree. He was so close that I watched the intense wind ruffle his crest and chest feathers. While I enjoyed the cardinal’s beauty and listened to his call, just a split-second later, that bird jumped down from his branch and snatched up the wayward peanut that had strayed from the pile and returned to the tree. I wish you could have seen the look on the squirrel’s face – it was priceless. His back soon was up and no doubt HIS feathers were ruffled as well. Laughing, I admonished him for not securing his stash better and tossed him a couple more peanuts and in short order he resumed enjoying his treat, seemingly having forgotten about the cardinal incident.
I left that squirrel, fed a few others who came over eagerly looking for handouts and headed next to “Duck Landing” as I call the concrete precipice over the storm sewer drain and which picture I have included above. I had a half-bag of stale bread, which would surely grow mold or get even harder, if I don’t return to the Park until the weekend as they are forecasting rain every day this week. I just decided to bring it along for whomever – there are always takers. I climbed down the hill and looked around and decided the Duck Dynasty members have clearly vacated the premises as nary a duck was to be found. So, now it was ME whose feathers were ruffled! I opened the bread bag anyway, having decided to spread the wealth among the sparrows and starlings who flew or hopped over immediately from parts unknown once I had tossed those first tidbits on the ground. They appeared to relish the unexpected treat, and I was happy to brighten the day of my little feathered friends. Even though they are not ducks, they are somehow kin to Buddy and God’s creatures after all.