Michael and Cheeky the Squirrel

Squirrel by cherieCheeky the squirrel jumped into the truck then, realizing what she’d done, dashed out.  She stopped a stood a few feet away, curling her forepaws to her chest and gathering herself.  Michael shook his head.  He rummaged around in his glove box, found a bag of old, unshelled peanuts, and held one out to her.  Cheeky stood on his foot and took the peanut gently from his hand.

He hadn’t seen her in a year since he’d moved to a different part of town.

Michael had first seen her on the roof outside the kitchen window, peering in at him.  He slid up the screen a fraction of an inch and pushed a walnut through the crack.  She snatched it and ran off, jumping from the rooftop and the locust tree in one graceful arc.

The next day she came again, and the next.  Each morning she waited, squinting in through the glass’s reflection, for him to notice and feed her.  On snowy days, she hopped from one foot to another to keep from freezing.

By spring she abandoned the rooftop and waited instead on the rail by the front door, somehow knowing each day when he left.

On summer mornings Michael sat in the garden drinking his coffee.  He held the newspaper with one hand and dangled unshelled peanuts for Cheeky with the other.  She slipped them from his fingers with exquisite gentleness.

When he was getting ready to move across town, he worried about her.  Would she have enough food?  On walks in the neighborhood Michael counted the nut-producing trees and judged the distance to the trickling stream.

On the morning he packed the last of the boxes into his truck, he waited for Cheeky to arrive, but she never came.  Maybe she was watching him from somewhere.

Michael  thought about her from time to time.  The day he returned to the neighborhood to visit a friend, he closed the door of his truck, leaned against it, and looked around.  He saw her coming toward him, stopping and looking, then advancing.  He swears they were both smiling at each other.

•photo by untoldanimalstories.org co-founder Cherie Damron, http://cdamron.exposuremanager.com/

Full Moon Coyote

ID-10072636...coyote I walk the narrow path along the edge of the lake, through the whiskery sedge and muddy wetland into the beech forest.  The indigo sky darkens toward black.  Night creatures stir and an owl’s call echoes off the water.  I walk on, each footfall sure and deliberate.

I know every hollow and swell of this land.  I know how to read the wind.  I know the sun and shadow on the water, the yellow greens of spring and dark greens of summer, the scent of a summer storm.  I know the phases of the moon.

The humans that share this land with my tribe do not trust us.  They call coyotes “tricksters,” but isn’t it they who are prone to taking more than they need, to spoiling the land and water that feeds them, to being far removed from the earth’s rhythms, to sidestepping inconvenient truths?  Across the lake I see their house lights reflecting long streaks across the water.  I keep my distance from them.

The path meanders upward through a grove of soft grasses, through a white pine forest, over the tumbledown rock walls.  I walk on.  At the edge of the woods I pause and watch my kin arrive from every direction and converge on the ridge of the hill.  Their fur is silver and silhouetted against the rising moon.  I join them, touching nose to nose in greeting.

In unison we lift our throats to the sky and begin singing, our voices weaving in and out of each other’s and rising to a crescendo.  As the moon rises above the horizon, we sing of summer sun and winter snow, of ancient starlight, of brotherhood.  We sing into the wind, our song carrying across the hills.  I imagine the humans in the valleys hearing us and sensing something deep and familiar resonating within. ID-10041295

Photos courtesy of Hal Brindley and illustration courtesy of Nixxphotography, freedigitalphotos.net