Friday, September 18, 2009
Squirrels and Lizards #Fridayflash
Fall is here. The oak trees are silent except for the swaying of their branches caused by an occasional breeze or gust of wind. Something was missing. I sat outside looking at the garden as knowing that soon the plants and flowers would die out from the cold leaving bare, brown sticks. It was comforting to know that in early spring the azaleas would bloom as soon as the first warm days tricked them into thinking that spring had arrived.
As I looked around, something was missing. I took my dog out in the yard and saw her chewing on acorns. Then it occurred to me – there were no squirrels to bury them in secret places. What could account for the disappearance of squirrels?
The toy poodle who lived in a house down the street used to bark every time a squirrel ran across the screen of the pool enclosure. I never had to set my alarm clock. The barking woke me around 8:30. It occurred to me that I was sleeping later, sometimes not awakening until after 10:00. At first I attributed this to the fact that I was working late into night and not hearing the dog. Now I realize that the barking had stopped.
Glancing from tree to tree I saw mockingbirds and cardinals. No bristling of branches.
I wondered if the neighbors had gotten rid of their dog. It was only three years old so I couldn’t imagine it being put down. I knew they hadn’t moved. Someone would have told me.
My six pound Maltese came back in from the yard through the doggie door and nuzzled up against me on the glider. There were lizards on the cement floor and she liked to watch them and chase them. One clung to the screen about midway between the floor and the gutters, unmoving.
A sudden movement caught my attention and I looked up from my book. Out of the sky in a silent motion a red-shouldered hawk and appeared. It swooped in, picked a lizard off the screen and flew away. It all happened so fast that I put my arm around my little dog in a protective motion.
I had seen the hawk before, sitting on a lamp post in front of my house, staring at my little dog. My next door neighbor told me he had seen it flying with a black snake in its mouth. That black snake had lived in my boxwoods for months and I missed seeing its little head poke up as I walked out the door.
An eerie feeling descended upon me. Hawks were predators, I remembered, and only ate live prey. They did not travel in groups like vultures that only ate dead animals. The squirrels were gone. The barking of the toy poodle had been silenced. A lizard had been snatched in front of my eyes with my tiny Maltese sitting next to me. Could a hawk fly through a screen and snatch my little puppy, I wondered.
I picked her up in my hand and went inside thinking about all of the acorns that would never be eaten.