Friday, March 9, 2012


This post is #9 in 31 slices of life, a blog challenge hosted 
by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers.  

The road stretches her black asphalt in front of us. A tarry ribbon, two-lanes, a straight shot for most of our 25 mile drive home from my son's school. Orange groves on one side and subdivisions, livestock and lakes on another.

"So, Mom, what's your favorite animal?" Collin asks after we grin at the kids climbing the dirt mountain-- a field of goats tucked between a church and a day-care center. We've stopped to say hello to them before.

I have lots of favorites, I think to myself. "Maybe a llama, " I reply. "Oh, or a horse!"

"Why do love horses?"

What first comes to mind is the smell. Rich, dark, earthy, warm, a mixture of leather and hay,  I don't think I can describe how I love the smell of horses, or horse barns so I say, "their spirit--they are independent and powerful, strong, beautiful and fast."

"They are elegant too--you might say that," Collin reminds me.

"That's true they are. Why do you like squirrels?" I ask giving him his turn to tell me.

"They are quick and they have bushy tails. I love too that they climb trees because I do like a good tree to climb."

Our conversation reminds me of a scrap of a poem I wrote for Collin when he was little. Once we got home I went to my journals and find it.
Not a backyard squirrel, my parents caught
this rare black squirrel in Petosky, Michigan!

I saw a squirrel today
running along a fence top
his tail busy and twitching
eyes on the bird feeder
he jumped
And the poem reminds me of stories we were sharing around Mom's dinner table just hours before.A family friend--someone who's laughed with my parents for 50 years--is visiting from Washington state. We lingered over stories at the dinner table last night. Mom was regaling us with tales from the bird feeder. Squirrels, the crafty creatures, are big players in the back yard. In Mom's backyard they want one thing: bird seed.

Mom keeps a double feeder in the back yard. The feeders hang from green metal hooks which curve and arch like Ms at the top of a thick pole. The pole,a stick figure in a plastic ballast skirt. The inverted cone keeps the footed-creatures from the seed. My parents love to watch the birds come to the feeder. Yellow finches are hear now and have been for winter--they will take wing north soon. The squirrels, nature's clowns, provide just the right amount of mischief to keep Mom and Dad on their toes.

Mom once watched a squirrel hang, as if on a trapeze, from a scrub oak branch over the feeder. She said he eye balled the bird feeder then scrambled back up to the tree. He tried another branch, hanging, looking, stretching, but still retreated. In the name of keeping the squirrels out of the seed, Mom greased the pole, vaselined it,  from top to bottom then sat back on the porch to watch. She said that squirrel'es eyes opened right up the minute he hit the pole and slid slowly to the ground.


  1. That is quite a drive but what a great opportunity for conversation!

  2. Hey-- I don't have a favorite animal...perhaps the human.

  3. Beautiful description. Conversations while in the car are special! I love your poem for your son.

  4. I like your son. :) My high school mascot? "The Squirrels" - and I still wear my sweatshirts proudly, now that my niece and nephews are mighty Squirrels! :) You write beautifully! The flow allowed me to get lost in the story!

  5. I love your mom's ongoig turf battle with the squirrels ... and her greased-pole triumph!


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