I am not sure what the Farmer’s Almanac says this year but my new and imaginative prediction is that it is going to be very cold. Stock up on extra kindling before the snow falls because we had a very clear message from a squirrel today. Despite Elsa Beskow saying that squirrels are scatty thoughtless creatures, we know they can also be quite the contrary, possessing such great effort and grand intentions.
At the start of each day I like to sit at the kitchen bench and have a cup of tea. I try to always daydream out the window while I am drinking tea, as a healthy gentle measure and to take a little moment to connect with the goings on in our yard. As I sat there sipping my tea quietly, suddenly, an energetic ball of blue burst out of the fir trees that line our yard. This blue mass was hopping on the ground erratically, sort of haphazardly and for a moment I forgot where I was and thought it was some rare blue breasted tropical bird of my Australian childhood.
My neck straightened and stretched as I tried to work out just exactly what it was that was moving with such fervency in our yard. It was quite the show and it could have been a long feathered lyre bird doing a mating dance. “Girls quick, look out the window!” I hollered, “There is something strange happening in our yard!” I was not even sure exactly what it was at that moment but I knew Maya and Elle would not want to miss it. “It is a bird or something, quick look out the window!” I had to let the girls know it was an animal of some sort so that they knew to move quickly. Sightings like this can be over in the blink of an eye. I heard the girls footsteps run across the bare wooden floorboards in the room above, and knew that they were both now peering out the window on the second floor directly above the kitchen window of which I was looking out of. Together, but on different floors of the house we were all taking in the same scene.
By now the bright blue thing was bounding across our yard and was close enough for us to see just exactly what it was. “Oh my goodness!” I exclaimed, it is a squirrel, and it has something big and blue in its mouth!” The squirrel was really in a state of effort and concentration. In that wonderful determined squirrel way it was on a quest. It had stopped for a moment to regroup and that is when I realized. “It has our prayer flags in its mouth!” I declared. The squirrel’s hands were busily scrunching back up the long colorful garland of Tibetan flags, grasping and bundling it all as tight as it could. I could see it’s head bobbling about as it tried to fit as many of the bright fabric pieces into it’s mouth as possible, ending with the blue on top. Once it had a good hold, it continued across the grass to a broad trunk, where it began a long journey up the largest tree in our yard.
Now if we take a step back to a moment ago we can only imagine that the squirrel had been in the girls tree house were the flag were hanging, and for some reason it had decided it needed to take the prayer flags to it’s nest. The prayer fags hung between two fir trees in a brushy sheltered play space, each end had been securely tied, and so getting the pray flags down, was a task in itself. I had just happened to be sitting at the kitchen window to catch this eventful mission in full swing.
From the windows we watched the squirrel climb to the third set of forks in the branches, and then once it was out of sight we decided to go and investigate. The three of us made our way outside and stood beneath the tree, gazing up to the squirrel nest. A small hole could be seen in the wood of the tree. There was no sign of fabric or squirrel, but we knew of course, they were both tucked away inside.
“Let’s go and inspect the tree house and see if we can work out how the squirrel got the flags down?” I said to the girls. With equal intrigue we skipped across the yard, parting the tree house door branches to enter the leafy den. Right away we could see that the squirrel had gnawed the string of the flags. There was a short remnant of string still tied to the tree, with the frayed end dangling. It was strong cord, it had to be chewed. “Well that squirrel put in a lot of effort to get those prayer flags down!” I said to the girls in wonder and admiration for her determination, “First it had to gnaw through this, and pull the flags down, then it had to carry them all the way across the yard and up the tree.” The girls were both adding their opinions to the event which became a little melodramatic with renditions of the squirrel swinging across the trees on the flags like one would a jungle vine. “I can’t believe the squirrel took our flags!” I said feeling like we had just been very accommodating to that squirrel and that I would miss seeing the brightly colored Tibetan healing messages in our yard. We stood silently looking at the empty space. “Well,” I said, thinking of that Mama squirrel’s efforts to line her nest, “If the squirrel felt it needed to do all of that, there must be a very cold winter ahead.”
Now as I write this we are actually having some of the warmest winter days, but what we know with the current climate change patterns, is that whether becomes more erratic and more unpredictable, extreme highs, extreme lows, no snow, lots of snow and so really, what is important is that we remember, what it is to be December.
Thank you for reading Magnesium Blue
Artwork By Maya Skene, Words By Kirsten Rickert, all rights reserved.