Around noontime today, the hawk was bold enough to descend upon the unsuspecting juvenile squirrel and carry him off as I watched the scene in a state of total helplessness.
It reminded me of a similar situation when we were cooling off in a mango grove from midday sun. Just then a few men collapsed shrieking in utter agony followed within seconds by the frighteningly loud noise of an enemy fighter plane flying overhead. The supersonic fighter aircraft would have fired his machine guns when still miles away and those unfortunate victims died even before we heard the aircraft; I was saved by the divine hands of God.
The last squirrel died today even before he knew of the danger overhead.
My backyard is now empty more than ever before. I have planted no Fall flowers which leaves me with just three of my bonsais; the first one, a ginkgo biloba sprouted from seed, the second, a two year old wisteria sappling being trained as a bonsai in a nine inch flowerpot and the third one, a fig cutting which has rooted very well.
My Fall gardening will be an eternal requiem in memory of my friends, the little playful squirrels.
My backyard is now empty, almost. The backyard which used to provide hours and hours of unadulterated joy and happiness is now quiet and desolate. I had once counted eight juvenile squirrels (6) and chipmunks (2) frolicking around in my backyard...... they wagged their tails or engaged in mock chase and made that shrill click click noise and which was enough to make one smile, the smile of peaceful tranquility.
Yesterday, Sunday, a One Day, I need a little rest (apology to Miss Sophia Loren). I had remained away from home and in the afternoon it had rained heavily.
And, so, this morning I was absolutely disturbed to find just one little squirrel foraging for food. I was incensed and could have borrowed my neighbor's air-rifle to shoot down the hawk, for high above the tree tops I have so often seen a hawk circling around, gliding in the thermal.
But, then it may be a she-hawk and there may be fledgelings in her nest waiting for her to bring home the bacon. It is a tough decision...... but, is this the survival ratio? One in six?
I have written about the little lonely chipmunk who lives alone under the thick canopy of an oak tree that is so densely wrapped around by ivy and wisteria.
Squirrels had eaten up the entire lot of blueberries before I could harvest them. The critters had mistaken my kindness to be my weakness and the thought had made me upset. But, as the story unfolds, I am beginning to see them in a different light; perhaps they are showing off to others that Jimmy22 has planted all this fare specially for them. They own the garden, I tend the garden for them.
I have a few pequin chili peppers in addition to some Thai chili peppers (I am partial to really hot peppers, so to speak.) And, these chili peppers are laden with berries, just now.
Thai peppers are ground hugging plants while the Peruvian pequins are three to four feet tall. Although, they are all terribly hot measured in scoville scale, the juvenile squirrels' attention is drawn particularly upon the Thai peppers; they sit on the ground and munch at the berries and like all children they damage the crop more than they eat. I am now thanking the good Lord there are only two of them.
So, I need to ask you friends to enlighten me....... don't the squirrels feel any discomfort eating so much hot peppers?
I was not looking for anything in particular...... just outside my windowsill where I have kept my three flower pots with bonsai (in the making), ginkgo biloba, fig and wisteria. I was attracted by a sudden movement at the base of the gingko biloba sappling and what I saw was something the least expected.... a potter wasp had just landed and it was dragging a caterpillar.
Wonder of wonders...... it had dug a neat hole at the farthest extent of the flower pot and I had no clue of its labor of love. It took all the time it wanted to clean up the larva, at least that is what it appeared to me. The wasp would sting the larva again and again as it it was injecting some fluid inside the larva in preparation of the diet for its baby. Finally it appeared satisfied and dragged the still wriggling caterpillar down inside the dark chamber.
Internet does not talk about potter wasps who live underground. The ones I had written about earlier had made pots of the regular shape and size and the wasps were themselves as close relatives of paper wasps.
My wasp today is of iridescent blue black color and half the size of its cousins reported earlier.
With due apology to the poet: "Men may come and men may go, the potter wasps go on for ever".
My garden is fast asleep, colorless. There are more than two dozens stately trees in my yard, tall and majestic. But, as I write these lines, they have begun to shed their leaves reminding me to get my raking order out.
I have a vacant spot in the backyard where my neighbors tell me used to be a swimming pool the previous owner had got filled up some quarter of a century ago. It is now a beautiful open space partially covered with autumn leaves.
There was a time when I used to see at least a dozen of juvenile squirrels and a pair of chipmunks frolicking around. It was a nursery of sorts, it was a heavenly sight. But now, I am pretty upset to write these notes that just a single pair of juvenile squirrels and a lone chipmunk are all that is left, the hawks have had their feast on the rest.
The lone chipmunk is so traumatized, it never descends to the lawn to forage; I often see him high on a limb under a dense canopy of wisteria covered oak. Of the two juvenile squirrels, I can not say if they have always been a pair or whether they became friends after the hawk did its job.
I feel deeply for the chipmunk who is still the size of my thumb, all alone in this dangerous world. How I wish he finds a company before the hawk makes a meal of him.
But I draw inspiration from the fact that the Lord keeps a watch over that tiny creature just as He does over me. Amen