I just spent a wonderful long weekend with my sister and her son, Beau, “up north” at my parents’ cabin.
Stubby the red squirrel is doing well. Since the tragic loss of the end of his tail (and his subsequent unofficial adoption by my mother), he has flourished. The end of his tail, while still cut off at a sharp angle, has sprouted an impressive line of dark fur, and he looks dapper, sitting on the railing, shaking his tail and showing off his new plumage.
Mom still dutifully feeds him every day, usually bird food, although he recently had some leftover pasta shells, which he seemed to enjoy very much. Even without my mother’s offerings, he is kept busy this time of year with pine cones and acorns and the many other good things there are to be found in the forest.
My mother is an intrepid gardener, braving the cold temperatures, lack of sun and marauding forest wildlife to keep the flowers in her many flowerpots growing and beautiful for much of the year. It is a neverending job, as the deer and, more recently, the wild turkeys love the tasty treats she has cultivated and placed around the house like a free salad bar. A pack of turkeys decimated her begonias earlier in the fall. She sent me a photo of her begonias, pre- and post-turkey invasion, and it was not a pretty sight.
My sister brought the family dog, Mabel, who gets along well with my parents’ cat, Katie, and Mabel kept the turkeys and deer at bay. But that didn’t mean we were free of animal drama.
My nephew and my dad went down to haul in the dock before the lake froze. My sister and mother and I followed them down to the water’s edge, where we discovered the site of a recent raccoon feast.
“They must have been eating crayfish,” my father guessed when he saw the enormous pile of fragrant poop at the end of the dock.
“Oh, no!” I yelled, because – at that moment – Mabel discovered the pile of poop and was eating it as quickly as she could.
Mabel was immediately banished to the house (with very stinky breath) while the dock was hauled in and, sometime in there, a door was left open just long enough for Katie the cat to escape, kill a songbird and bite off its head.
“Katie!” my mother scolded. “That was very, very bad!”
Katie looked mighty pleased with herself, and Mabel looked a little relieved because – although she hadn’t gotten to eat as much raccoon poop as she thought she was entitled to – at least she was no longer the pet in the most trouble.
That night, we went out to dinner. My sister and nephew and father all had big burgers with bacon and ham and cheese or some combination of all three. I don’t eat meat, and I haven’t for most of my life, but I don’t care what anyone else eats.
Beau, looking at his gigantic burger, told me, “I think we killed enough animals to make up for any that you saved!”
I tried to tell him that I don’t make dietary choices for anyone but myself. But then I realized this was not quite true.
Because I did not agree with the dietary choices of Katie, eating songbirds’ heads, or Mabel, eating raccoon poop off the dock, or even those turkeys, eating my mother’s begonias.
I make a lot of judgments, all the time. And some of them I’m sticking with.
Till next time,