Of Foliage and Fuzzy Friends

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted a “furry” pet of some kind, be it a puppy, kitten, bunny, even a guinea pig. Of course, once I moved into my own apartment and realized that such fuzzy companions require far more attention than I, as a full-time member of the workforce, can provide, I settled for my beloved little Buddy the Betta - and, following his passing, my new baby Betta, Norton von Spudly. Not exactly furry, but still fairly entertaining and interactive as fish go. 

Perhaps I should mention that, in the apartment complex where I reside, one tends to come across all sorts of creatures, from stray cats and kittens wandering the property, to turtles and fish by the pond, robins and blue jays and other assorted winged folk, and even the occasional baby fox roaming near the dumpster. And squirrels. We can’t forget our bushy-tailed friends who spend the majority of the seasons scurrying from tree to tree in search of acorns to munch on and, once the weather begins to turn chilly, store away for winter. 

My particular building is fairly set apart from the trees and shrubbery which line some of the other, more shaded areas of the complex; however, as luck would have it, there happens to be one fairly large tree right in front of my apartment, with branches that - until recently - stretched nearly to my second-floor balcony. 

Every autumn, like clockwork, I would find hordes of acorns - piles, literally - on my deck each morning. Curious how they all happened to “fall” in this one area, I observed one particular squirrel as he made the rounds from branch to branch, fervently shaking each one until he had dislodged each and every nut. Some would fall down below, where he would eagerly gather them and begin digging holes to store them away; the rest, apparently, seemed to settle among my plants upstairs. 

Each day, I would sweep the acorns off the side of the deck and, peering over the side, would see my little fuzzy visitor eagerly waiting to collect them. It became something of a routine, and I was only too happy to help him in his pursuit (and clear off my deck in the process). 

One morning, I awoke to the sound of buzzing and looked outside to see the landscape company trimming many of the trees and shrubs in the area, including “my” tree. Horrified, I looked at the now nearly-barren branches and wondered what had become of my little fluffy-tailed companion. Was he swept away with the pile of discarded branches? Had he been permanently displaced from his chosen home? What had become of all the acorns he had yet to gather? 

Mildly concerned, I wondered if I would ever see him again. A few days passed, with still no sign. The next night, when I returned home from work, I decided to dine outside. It was one of those late Autumn evenings when the air was still mild and the sun had yet to set, casting a golden glow over all that the light touched. As I ate, I was startled by the sound of scurrying, and looked up to see my little fuzzy friend scampering up and down the emaciated tree, picking up the acorns that had fallen and galloping down the pathway to bury them in the tiny hole he had dug. 

I smiled, glad to see he was alright, despite his slightly-mangled home. Not quite a puppy, but a member of the adopted family nonetheless. A few weeks later, it seemed the acorns had all been accounted for. As I watered my mum plants, I saw something wedged between the flowers. Curious, I peered between the stems to find a single peanut shell. 

I guess this means he’s moving in for the winter. 

 

{Published: October 25th, 2017}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment