doesn’t make any sense, probably wasn’t supposed to

This whole journally bloggy writey posty thing will go more smoothly if I just admit I used to write but I don’t anymore.

The first draft of this post next had four hundred words of baloney, over-thinking the fact that I over-think. Impressively self-reflexive but fully pointless. Such over-thinking causes a post promised for the next day to show up six weeks later, if then, and leads to repetitive stupidity syndrome. I can give you the distant view of this forest over and over, all shadows in depressions, without being able to tell you about one damn tree. If all I want to do is whine there’s already enough of that crap here already.

Instead, no more thinking. Just living. Just breathing. Just feeling breezes on my skin instead of tornados in my head. Just hearing the happy babble of my baby daughter instead of the crying overindulged inner brat in my head. Just walking into the shadows, knowing there are no shadows unless there is light to define them. Just seeing the trees for the forest. Enough creating, enough writing – there is plenty already created.

I used to write, but hopefully now I can see.


So let’s go. Let’s start with something I couldn’t even possibly begin to explain, so I will hopefully not be too tempted to try to explain it. Let’s start with the squirrel.

There is a pretty serious set of clotheslines in my back yard, and when we moved in a year ago they were littered with weathered old clothespins. We left some because I think they’re photogenic and the rest were retired to a plastic grocery sack (in case there needed to be more portrait sessions) and were replaced with younger nonunion clothespins. The bag ended up under a plastic deck chair on my battered old deck and abandoned for the winter.

I basically don’t watch sports on TV but I had the Super Bowl on for the commercials (the ones I saw were so not worth it, except for the “Why Don’t We Use FedEx?” space alien) and L. was in the kitchen feeding the baby. She glanced out the kitchen window and after a minute laughed and called me over.

A grey squirrel was on the back deck, crouching low, glinty-eyed, creeping slowly forward, like it was stalking some prey. That seemed a bit off on two levels – one, I’m badly educated but I don’t think squirrels hunt, and two, it was stalking a plastic bag of clothespins.

I ran for the video camera but the battery was dead, denying science proof of this, and me a probable slot on one of those animal video shows. When I returned to the window the squirrel was within a foot of the bag. Suddenly it seemingly teleported the last foot and started to rip and claw at the bag. The speed and violence made me think the squirrel was half cobra.

A second later and the squirrel, bristling with the skittish energy of battle, retreated from some sort of flank attack by the clothespins. But after only a moment of regrouping, it turned its focus to the bag again and skulked closer.

The lightning attack and retreat was repeated a few more times, until all the clothespins onto the deck in a fan pattern as the squirrel pulled the battered bag literally out from under its contents. It stood triumphantly near the edge of the deck for a moment, breathing heavily and tightly clutching the bag in both paws, lest it slip away.

After a moment the little squirrel arms started a supercharged round of “I’m eating a walnut” movements, and the squirrel started to shove the plastic bag in its mouth. Not eating, not chewing, just holding the bag in its mouth. It got half of it in, paused, looked around quickly in suspicion and terror, the bag waving like a flag. It looked like a deranged tissue holder, available from the same catalog as plastic lawn deer.

Satisfied no other squirrels were coming to steal the bag – and our cats were nowhere to be seen – the squirrel quickly stuffed the rest of the bag into its cheeks, which were puffed out like there were two golf balls on board. A tip of one handle stuck out slightly, I guess for easy dispensing. Work complete, the war over, the squirrel took off up a tree and disappeared.

When we stopped laughing enough to breath, we wondered about motivations. Insulation for a squirrel house? A roof? Waterproofing? Perhaps it moving and needed to pack, and didn’t have any little Nutkin-sized kerchiefs. Maybe it lost a bar bet. But any attempt to explain would only be what a person would do if they were a squirrel. We’ll never know.

Despite the cold I went out onto the back deck. The yard was still; the neighbor’s dogs weren’t out and everything was quiet. I suspected that I was just watching a TV that had replaced my kitchen window, but I could see back inside to a dumbfounded and still laughing L., and around my feet were many, many clothespins.

It was only the first quarter of the game but I don’t think we watched any of the rest of the game; it seemed sort of anticlimactic. Did anything interesting happen?


This was published on 14 May 2004.
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