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.


Jai Joshi said...

Eek! I got chills.


Marisa Birns said...

Very spooky. I keep on thinking that Alfred Hitchcock has something to do with this hawk. :)

Susan Cross said...

Oh ye with little pets, beware thre red-shouldered hawk!

shannon said...

Yep, I have heard tales of small pets being taken by them. I was always careful when I let my yorkie out in TN. Brings back some memories, thank you. :-)

Susan Cross said...

I've been told that they cannot lift more than 4 or 5 pounds but they think they can. One friend told me a hawk pick up his 9 pound cat but couldn't carry it so dropped it in 2 pieces to the ground. Oooooooh!

J. M. Strother said...

Glad I have a 25 pound beagle!

I had to go out an look up Maltese on a Google Image Search. What cute little dogs.

We have Red Tailed Hawks around here. But still have plenty of squirrels. I love to watch them but have yet to see them take any prey. Maybe ours are vegetarians? ;)

Susan Cross said...

In Florida, people have invaded the homes of these and other wildlife. As my neighbor says, "They have to eat, too!"

hojpoj said...

I must be a bad sort, but I would love to see a red tailed hawk grab a squirrel from my yard. We have lots of birds of prey around my area, but rarely do you get to see them actually gnab their food.
Nicely written story, by the way - heh, almost forgot to say I liked it!

Susan Cross said...

I really did see the lizard get picked off the screen. That was enough for me!