Those of you who follow me on Twitter know about one of my favourite features of my new house.
We have a yard. This is pretty exciting stuff, as I’ve never really had a yard before. What’s more, this yard is home to many trees, not the least of which is a giant sequoia.
This tree and those around it are teaming with life. The whole neighborhood in fact. Lots of birds and whole lots of squirrels.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter are probably sick to death of the bloody squirrels by now.
I do not care.
I love our squirrels. When we first moved in, there were three that I counted as regulars: Bosstone, Gandalf and Balrog. There were others that came and went but I never got the chance to definitively identify them, and so they went without names. Then winter swept in and the squirrels got fuzzier coats and food was harder to come by so they visited more often and before I knew it I had no idea which squirrel was which.
We recently unpacked the box with our binoculars however, so I’ve been able to observe my furry little buddies more closely. Already I’ve been able to definitively pin down two (Vincent and Mrs. Nesbit). And today I ID’s another. Helped in no small part to the fact that he let me get to within, oh about six inches of him.
Everybody, I would like you to meet Stumpy Pete. Stumpy Pete, this is everybody.
This was when I first saw Stumpy Pete. I was actually outside photographing something else entirely when I heard a scrabbling behind me and there he was on the railing. He was looking in the window that you can see there, and as I watched he got closer and closer until finally I heard a tiny little -thunk!- and he stumbled back. I’m not sure if Stumpy Pete is perhaps getting old and his eyesight is going, which might explain why he didn’t mind how close I was able to get. Or it’s also entirely possible that Stumpy Pete thought he saw another squirrel in his reflection and wanted to show it who was boss, while remaining utterly confident in himself and secure in the knowledge that he can run and climb far, far better than this giant clumsy pink thing.
Stumpy Pete began to move around the deck railing and I slowly moved closer. Then he turned and looked right at me. Long enough for me to get three pictures that are nearly identical to this one. He clearly knew I was there and just as clearly was unbothered by this fact.
Here’s where I gave Stumpy Pete his people-name. I was actually a bit shocked to see a squirrel without (most of) a tail. When he was on the lip of one of the bowls it was apparent that balance was something he had to work at a little bit harder than the other squirrels. But he pulled it off, and as you can see, this isn’t a new wound, so he’s certainly adapted just fine.
Handsome or no, it’s definitely an odd sight. I feel like I should be picking his tail for one of those games where you have to spot the differences between two pictures.
I was so close when I took this. If I’d straightened just a little I could’ve bumped him under the chin. And that was awesome, but what I really loved was how he just stood there and let me get off several shots.
Hmm. Maybe he’s on to me. Maybe he’s an aspiring model. If I see him in a tiny pair of underwear next time I’ll let you guys know.
After posing for a moment he went back to the bowls. I circled around the deck to the steps and sat there near the closest bowl for a good ten minutes. I only had a few shots left on the memory card so I was holding out for the hope that I could get one where he was even closer. That picture never happened. Instead I leave you with this parting shot.
Welcome, Stumpy Pete.