I am posting this again since the story od sweet squirrel encounters has come up. It actually happened some ten years ago but made such an impression on me as a mother. I would be like that squirrel with my children, my friends, anyone who I felt was about to be devoured unnecessarily. This one is for you Dan.
May 8, 2016
In honor of Mother’s Day I decided to share again this heartwarming moment in my life, a moment that epitomizes the great lengths a mother will go to for her offspring.
We are not the weaker sex. We are fierce, determined, tenacious, tender, strong, delicate, understanding, empathic, supportive, selfless and loving. This does not mean we have no needs ourselves, merely that we place those needs on the back burners of our busy schedules, often leading to moments of exhaustion and mini breakdowns. Perhaps this is where the “weaker” judgment came from. That we show all of ourselves does not make us weak. It makes us honest. Please see the mothers in your lives for their truest selves and not what you fear, need or want them to be. We may be wonders but we are still human.
If you thought only lionesses could be staunch defenders of their young, think again…
First of all, let me offer a disclaimer here. If you came expecting a story that you need tissues for or elaborate video footage of exotic endangered animals, well, it just isn’t here.
My story, however, is endearing at least and astounding at most. I had never seen anything like this.
I must apologize for the quality of the photos. This occurred over nine years ago, when I was still shooting with my faithful Sony Cybershot and the age of digital processing was in its infancy, at least for me. I was still running down to Walgreen’s or WalMart for my hard copies of every photo I took. These are my own reproductions. On to the story then.
I had just arrived home after doing some shopping, ready to shed my heels and enjoy the rest of a quiet day while the kids were still at school and I was off from work. I was in our front den, still in my skirt and stocking feet, when I heard a loud squawking under the carport. Now, if you don’t live in the South you may not know what a carport is. It is a naked garage. No snow, no cold. Most homes don’t have garages unless, like my own husband, you actually use lots of tools. Or you have really nice vehicles you like to keep “tucked away”. At any rate, we had a carport then so it was open on three sides.
I must also mention we had two cats at that time, a black and white “Sylvester” cat and a stark white female brute I named “Nefertiti”, or “Titi” for short. These two were actually cat soul mates. Always curled up together and licking each other clean. It was nauseating for other cats to have to watch this display. They were adorable. She was the supreme huntress; and I cannot tell you how many little “presents” she would leave for me by the screen door which made me cringe and scold her. The male brought down an occasional lizard but was pretty much lazy, especially after the big “accident” when he dislocated his hip, needing surgery. After that he pulled out the old “limp” whenever he wanted sympathy.
BUT….there was just something about those squirrels in the yard that brought out the beast in our Sylvester. On this day, as I listened to the squawking coming from under the carport, I thought surely one of them had a bird cornered there. I flew to the door in my stocking feet, skirt flying up around my waist as I slid into home near the welcome mat and flung open the glass door.
What met my astonished gaze was a sight I still consider the most amazing thing I have seen in the world of small animals. My cat had a young squirrel in his jaws, dangling like a Barbie’s mink stole and was darting back and forth, trying to dodge the wrath of this baby’s Mother! That squirrel was screeching at Sylvester as she tried to attack him from the front. As soon as my mind grasped what was going on, I swung my shirt at the cat’s back. Yes, I realized I was running around in my bra all too late to retreat. The traffic rushing by never knew what was going on down the lonely little driveway of the only house left on that busy section of commerce-infested highway.
As I yelled and startled my naughty cat, he dropped the baby and looked up at me in sheer terror for a moment. In that split second the mother squirrel darted in to retrieve her lost offspring. Even with my shouting Sylvester refused to give up his ground until the mother screeched more animal profanities in his direction and I finally booted him with my bare foot. Suddenly, I thought of the camera as I realized this was a unique event unfolding in my pretty mundane life. I darted inside for the Sony and flew back out, fearing the cat would take this opportunity to move in for another attack on the young animal. But he was transfixed. Still watching lest Mother drop the prize, he stood silently by as the heart of this drama unfolded. I stared, awestruck, as this loving rodent tried to nudge her baby to a standing position, actually propping it up. It appeared lifeless. Not giving up, she propped it up once more, this time using her front paws to “fluff” its fur as she nibbled at its neck. Still no success.
Fearing the cat might take a more active position before she had completed her resuscitation, the mother squirrel took her baby by the scruff of its neck in her mouth and scurried over to the base of the huge oak tree that stood near our carport. Stopping there, she made another attempt to prop the its limp form up, patting it with her paws as she kept one eye trained on the cat that insisted on creeping his way over to where they were, despite my loud protests.
The mother made an attempt to climb the tree with her baby between her teeth; but suddenly it moved. She put it down and fluffed it again. In the blink of an eye, it recovered and began to climb up that tree with Mother close behind. She did take one last look over her shoulder at Sylvester as if to say, “Don’t mess with this mother. I am one serious squirrel!”
I was home alone and no one else witnessed this; but I managed to take these two shots because, even back then, I took photos of anything and everything. And let me tell you, people, squirrels are very ingenious little dressed up rodents. Here are the photos.
Note the cat in the bottom left-hand corner. At this point, I thought the baby was dead and my heart was broken. Silently I considered squashing the cat….
Here she tries to resuscitate her baby with a sort of fluffing method. Whatever it was, it did the trick. These were the only shots I could get as I watched from the doorway and saw them scurry up the tree. Relieved, I backed my half-naked body through the door and finished out the rest of my day rather uneventfully. The cat? Well, after a good scolding from me, it was awhile before he messed with another squirrel. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the wrath of Mama Squirrel.
Here they are, Huntress and Tormentor of Squirrels. What a pair.
I miss them.