Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gimpy the Squirrel

Hola! It's been a depressing sort of day. The weather is beautiful - for a change - and I actually dosed for awhile today outdoors in the sun while I was reading the latest issue of Chess Life magazine, yippee! But the news, oh my, the news. One of my pleasures on Sunday is reading different things online and posting about them here. I usually find a lot of interesting items at The New York Times. But today I scoured The Times and was appalled, and got depressed. News about food shortages, news about the rising cost of oil and the looming shortages in that commodity too, news about the eroding of the American middle class, now only 16% of all Americans make wages higher than $20 an hour. We are in danger of becoming the first generation of Americans who will not live as well as our parents - and our children certainly will not. If that isn't pathetic, I don't know what is. More bad news about global warming and climate change. One gets the vision that my senior years will be spent huddled with freezing, hungry people in underground dugouts around meager coal fires, eating roasted worms. All the animals will be gone, all the wood will be gone, we won't be able to afford oil or gas to eat our homes, which will be deconstructed for the lumber and other materials they contain, all the food will be gone. One-third of the coasts of the United States will be under water and the rest of the country will be scoured by relentless hurricanes, floods and drought. In the developing nations about 8.5 billion people will be jostling for elbow room and killing each other over whatever is left to scarf out of the ground. The oceans will be dead, all animals will be gone, even the insects will be in danger of extinction as people turn to them as the only food source left. May as well just blow my brains out now and get it over with. Sigh. BIG sigh. So I want to tell you about litle Gimpy the squirel, who always makes me feel better whenever I see her. I do not know exactly what befell Gimpy, but she showed up in the back yard one day in laste autumn last year, with her tail bent at a weird angle and moving very strangely - sort of like dragging/hopping. She was absolutely terrified of me - whenever my shadow came anywhere near the patio door she would drag/hop out of sight. But she stuck around, no doubt because of the plentiful and easily acquired food I toss out in the mornings and the evenings, day in and day out. When dondelion visited over Christmas I pointed her out to him. Slowly, very slowly, she got used to seeing me - but she would still run up a tree for safety when I opened the patio door to throw out some tempting nuts for her. Unlike the other squirrels who hang around here, she doesn't come running when I make my squirrel "mooching" sound - they know that's the signal for food. Maybe because of the constant food supply, Gimpy survived this long hard winter, and actually came through with some weight put on! The broken end of her tail fell off about 2 or 3 weeks ago, so now she just has about a five inch stub. I don't know if it will grow back. When she first arrived, I suspected that she had an injured paw or leg, thus causing her very strange gait - but until recently I could only guess because she would not come close enough (or hold still in one position long enough) for me to get a good long look! Gimpy has gotten sufficiently used to me now that she comes up on the deck to grab peanuts, as long as I stand quietly behind the closed patio door. So I was able to get a good look at her, at last. She is missing her right front paw - it's not there at all. I suspect that whatever fate caused her broken tail also caused her to lose her paw, and thinking back on how she moved when I first saw her in the yard, she may have had an injured rear left leg too. But now she is fat and sassy and the boy squirrels are chasing her all over the yard. She has lost her funny gait and moves pretty much just like the others in my tribe of squirrels do. When she eats the nuts I toss out with free abandon (I spend more on nuts for the squirrels than I do on food for myself) she holds them between her good left paw and her stump. I expect she'll have a litter later in the summer. And so Gimpy, Goddess love her, was able to adapt and survive. I will try and get a picture of her to post here - so far I've been unsuccessful - she's just too fast for me! So perhaps there's a lesson here, although I seriously doubt that there will be any "Goddess raining peanuts from Heaven" down upon us sorry-butt humans - so, maybe not. I don't know. I just know that seeing Gimpy makes me feel better.

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