My favorite season has been plagued by gray and gloomy weather and relentless rain. After a soggy Spring and a horribly hot and humid Summer, I had great expectations for Fall. But instead, this usually awesome season has turned into a rather abysmal Autumn. Yesterday was an all-day rain and this morning there was a window of opportunity to get in a walk, as rain was holding off until mid-day, then a steady rain through the evening would ensue. I knew I’d better make the most of those few hours.
I always carry my compact digital camera with me because I would hate to miss a great shot just because I left it at home that one time. What I did leave behind, however, were my mittens with the convertible flip-back to half-fingers, which I use for taking pictures in the cold weather. One look at that gray sky told me it was doubtful I would be pulling the camera out of the case. I grabbed a half-bag of peanuts and didn’t even bother dividing them into Ziploc bags. I knew I’d finish them off since yesterday’s rain likely kept everyone off the walking path.
The car needed a run and I arrived at the Park to see only a handful of cars in the lot. Most of the walkers must have been at church, Sunday brunch, or looked at the sky and took to their treadmills instead. I did see Mike, one of the regular walkers, who was headed to his car. He said “the squirrels were looking for you because none of us were here yesterday due to the rain.” Mike also feeds the squirrels, so my quick retort was “they’ll look at me like they haven’t eaten peanuts in days, having already eaten some of yours, so they’ll feed on my handouts, as well as my sympathy!” He laughed.
Against a mottled gray sky, the trees looked like rich jewels dotting the blah landscape and soon the squirrels also dotted the still-damp perimeter path looking for peanuts, which I doled out here, there and everywhere. I was sure I had enough peanuts to last my entire visit on both the “critter-laden side” and the “boring side” and I planned to cross the street into the neighborhood in case Parker was there.
Now that the City has cleared some bushes and trees permitting us a bigger glimpse of the Ecorse Creek, though I initially resisted the wide-open look, I’ve been able to peer at the mallards and check out the foliage on the opposite side of the Creek. So, when I spotted a splash of red across the water, I took out the camera to capture that image.
They were a row of fire bushes. I must say my fire bushes have never looked a vibrant shade of red – ever, and they were planted back in 1985. I wondered how I never noticed this riotous red color before today? I decided to venture down to the Creek banks to get a better photo. I’d not been down that way since the male swan chased after me last Winter. You may recall I only wanted a photo, and he got in my face, snorting and stomping the snow with those wide-webbed feet. I scattered peanuts on the ground and beat a hasty retreat.
I picked my way carefully along the slippery and muddy makeshift trail …
… while pushing aside a few tall reeds and overgrown weeds, hoping the photo op was worth this much effort.
The bushes were beautiful and I also had a nice view of the wider portion of the Creek.
I got my shots, then turned on my heel to walk back to the perimeter path, only to find a squirrel looking up at me.
Whoa, well hello there! He was lucky I didn’t step on him as I was not looking down, but instead was distracted by not sliding on the slippery leaves and wet mud, which likely had already oozed into the ridges of the soles of my shoes.
He looked like such a pitiful wee soul sitting there.
I don’t think this furry fellow was one of the “regulars” as he was cautious and skittish, yet HE had approached me first. I dug into my bag and the crinkling of the hard cellophane seemed intensified by the still morn. That noise spooked him, so he ran up a tree.
I told him not be afraid and to come closer and held out a peanut, then dropped some on the ground.
He came down the tree reluctantly.
The leaves that are littering the path and grounds make it tough to see the squirrels sometimes, let alone for them to see peanuts. I try to move the leaves so they see where I dropped those nuts and sometimes the squirrels blend right into the leaves and landscape, like in these photos where it appears as if he was playing peek-a-boo, before inching over to see me. Well, we were making progress.
He grabbed a peanut and ran away, reluctant to sit there next to me like the squirrels often do.
My eyes followed him to his sanctuary where he noshed on his peanut.
It was so peaceful … there was no one around, and even the mallards were silent, instead of their usual cacophony of quacking and splashing antics in the Creek. I could hear his teeth cracking the peanut and then the shell falling down onto the dry and crispy leaves.
This is what peace sounds like.
H scrambled over for another nut then scurried away again, still unsure if it was safe to stay near this tall stranger, even if I did coming bearing gifts. That’s okay –he is wary and perhaps he has tangled with a human before and had a reason to be scared.
I bided my time, sneaking a few more peanuts into his little pile on the grass, awaiting another potential photo op. He returned, grabbed another peanut and this time he raced over to the tree with the graffiti on it, that beautiful twisted tree, framed by the Creek. Hold that pose please!
Before I got back on the paved path, I walked through the sopping wet grass to clean my shoes off. I saw more squirrels, all who acted like I had not trod that pathway two times already and dropped peanuts at their feet. By then I was travelling on near-empty, with only about five peanuts left and those had Parker’s name on them.
I decided to head over to Pagel Avenue to see if Parker was there. I tried not to cloud my mind with images of him versus a hawk or the coyote, since I had not seen him Friday morning either. Here, I was greeted by a Fox squirrel who made a beeline down a maple tree to greet me and danced around the toes of my walking shoes while I dug the peanuts out of the bottom of the bag. I still held onto the camera in my hands which were freezing since I’d taken my glove off a good half hour ago and it was just 40 degrees. I happily spread the five peanuts out and he happily went to eat them.
OK, time to go home – I’d seen Stubby and Parker and a slew of other squirrels, so I was good to go.
But … I got to the parking lot and neared my car and discovered a squirrel sitting next to the driver’s side and he came over to me … well, that had to be Parker! Wait a minute, who was that a few minutes ago, the squirrel who emptied my bag of peanuts and danced around my feet? I assumed he was Parker! Well, this squirrel did similar antics – is there an imposter?
Meanwhile, I was mortified and apologized for being empty-handed. I even took the bag out of my pocket and turned it inside out saying “Honey, I’m sorry I have nothing for you – I’ll make it up to you tomorrow. I’ll bring you a peanut butter sandwich, heck – I’ll even bring one of the two bags of walnuts I’ve bought for Thanksgiving and Christmas.” But those eyes pleaded with me for peanuts.
For a minute, I toyed with the idea of making the two-mile round trip home to get more for him.
My fear was he would not move from the car and I didn’t want to run him over. I opened the car door, and his head popped up and I thought he might try to climb into the car. There was no one around to ask to watch where he was so I could pull away. I honked the horn to chase him away from the car but still didn’t see him. I waited and waited – no one came along, so after 15 minutes, I honked again and pulled away, saying a little prayer he was not underneath a tire.
As I backed out of the parking space, I was scared to look up.
But I did.
There he was, sitting on the curb staring at me. My heart melted. He was safe. I got out of the parking lot in a hurry before he followed me, feeling badly. I’d better be real nice to him tomorrow morning.
As I was pulling up in the driveway, the first little spits of rain splashed onto the windshield and the rain hasn’t stopped since..
It seems we were all full of great expectations today … me that the weather would cooperate so I could get a long walk in, and my furry pals who awaited a fill-up by their favorite benefactor.