Sunday, February 13, 2011

the pitter patter of little feet

Very early this morning I knew something wasn't right.

Our bedroom is in the back corner of the house - it has a high vaulted ceiling. This makes for great sleeping on rainy nights and sweet dreams when the full moon peeks through the sky lights.

It's also great for experiencing urban wildlife. For several years now an owl pair has hatched owlets in a neighbor's oak tree - they have 'whooo-ing' and flying lessons across the back yards of five or six of our houses. We all talk over the fences each spring about how many babies we've heard and seen and how big the nest is this year. A fat raccoon wanders from shed roof to house roof sometimes -  just for something new to do - he's got a scary shuffle for a raccoon. There's a feral calico who walks the fence tops regularly and chats at high volume with the softer, house-and-backyard felines. The mockingbirds like the next door neighbor's arbor for their morning screech, The dog of the fireman in the house behind us yips for the first hour or so after the family leaves each morning.

And nearly every dawn Terry and I can hear the squirrels jump from the red oaks in the front yard onto the garage of our house, participate in a frantic frolic across the gables and the expanse of the family room vaulted ceiling, a quick chase around the chimney a couple of times, across our bedroom rooftop and then....a short leap onto the ash tree in the back yard and away. With occasional noisy side trips to the fiberglass roof of the screened porch or the bird feeders on the breezeway.

This morning the squirrel trek started as usual at the front corner of the house and continued across the roof...but then there was silence at the jumping off spot above our bedroom. Lots of silence. Then a very noisy rodent discussion. For quite a while. A couple of squirrels even went back across the house, got some friends from the oaks in the front and came back. No side trips, just straight back.

Terry was philosophical, as he usually is in the early morning, but I couldn't stand it. I got up, put on a robe and slippers and went out to join the dawn gathering.

It was pretty tragic. A very large branch from the ash had come down in the night, it was  dry and must have been dead for some time. It was broken in several places and heavily dead, sunken into the wet earth. Smaller branches were shattered all over the grass. I was just grateful it was in the yard and not on the roof. I guess I was the only grateful one present as it became apparent quickly that the animal conversation was, "NOW how are we gettin' from the house to the tree tops?"

With a cup of tea in hand I watched the discussion and trial forays from house to trees and back again for as long as I could.  I am not sure consensus was ever reached.

New things are oftentimes difficult and unsettling. But I've got faith that new beginnings  lead to learning, adventure and fun.

And I am going to bed now so the morning will come quicker.