Gypsy's Travels

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Memory Box - "Backyard Wildlife"

DD#2 keeps bugging me to draw from the Memory Box. I have to admit, I am a little slow about it sometimes because it can bring a torrent of memories and I have to deal with them before I can draw again. This morning, however, I did draw one....

" I remember the one squirrel that appeared in our yard and you took a whole roll of film of him."

While I admit I was enamored of the creatures that were reluctant to move out of their homes to accommodate our intrusion, and I was prone to try to document our lives by photography, I do think "a whole roll of film" is a bit of an exaggeration.

We had moved from a suburban area in Australia where screeching galahs and cockatoos flew overhead, while laughing kookaburras perched on the brick fence in back of our house. We had moved to a treeless plain in Texas that had previously housed grazing cattle belonging to a local farmer. The seasons were defined by the bird population on our 1 1/2 acre yard - a sea of yellow and gray meadowlarks singing in the summer, a snow-like ,white covering of honking snow geese migrating through in the winter, and robins drunk on fermented pyracantha berries in January / February.

Killdeer laid their eggs in nests built on the ground, exposing their potential progeny to being ravaged by one of our many cats, while the mockingbird swooped down to attack any unwary feline. Ground squirrels appeared from their underground homes, sometimes accompanied by babies which were, temporarily, abandoned close to the entry hole. I agonized over the possible fate of those mewling toddlers as their parents demonstrated a form of "tough love." The red wing hawk watched from above.

Most of these populations wisely moved on as the surrounding rice fields and farm lands succumbed to encroachment by builders who left sturdy rooftop dwellings in their wake. There were too many humans and domesticated predators for the local wildlife.

With the advent of trees and landscaping, the rare pheasant and sage hen gave way to ducks from our neighbor's pond. The leader led his harem daily to visit our yard, looking for bugs as they waddled their way to our pear tree. They feasted on fallen pears, then headed home chattering happily. Sadly, they disappeared one by one, to grace our neighbor's table.

We planted fruit trees, pine trees, a palm tree, crepe myrtles, and two pecan trees. It was when the trees began to gain height that the squirrels arrived. It was a smorgasbord for the squirrel community. Fortunately, it took them a while to find us. Thus, a squirrel was a real novelty. A cute, little, furry critter that would bide his time from a distance, skitter in to reap the best of the harvest, then scamper away with a twitch of a feathery tail just to let us know who was really in charge of the area. Is it any wonder I took a few pictures?

There was not a huge influx of squirrels before we moved, but there were probably more around than we were privileged to see. Little trees popped up in the most unusual places, planted, I am quite certain, by squirrels trying to stock a winter larder. They are certainly more plentiful now. Peeking from the branches of the tall trees, scudding over the telephone wires, and wantonly racing cars across the road, this symbol of suburban wildlife is no longer a novelty in the area. Thanks to the wonders of digital photography, I don't have to use a "whole roll of film" to photgraph a squirrel.


  1. You will learn to love these squirrels I am sure. They are really nice if you allow them to eat from your larders.

  2. Hmmmmm.....I think I will have to post some squirrel stories.....


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