So, the squirrels

Enough of this. Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight! (Two points if you get the reference.) Squirrely and Squeeze have produced a fall litter, three now-adolescent ridiculous squirrels who have been sent out into the world — by which I mean, the backyard — to earn a living. Their first couple of days, last week, they timidly and tentatively followed Mom and Pop down trees and along fences, sometimes refusing to try a jump until the adult either came back a few times and showed it to them, or finally just started to leave. Then they’d leap desperately after. Now the place is theirs. Mom and Pop come out individually, but the triplets still hang together, chasing whoever has a berry or nut. Like all adolescents, they seem to find it more fun to take your brother’s stuff than to dig up — in this case literally — your own. <br> <br>What I call “the backyard” is actually five yards, a very thin one behind my apartment building and four deeper ones behind the townhouses (or, as we NYers say, brownstones, no matter what they’re made of) on the next block. Plus, for squirrel purposes, the roofs, garages, decks, backyard furniture… It’s a jungle gym out there. I live in the back (in NY, btw, this is a state of mind as much as a statement of fact: Q: “They’ve been divorced for six months! You didn’t know that?” A, said with a shrug: “I live in the back.”) and overlook all the activity. Between two of the yards there’s a fence about six inches wide, with horizontal slats on both sides. Up near the top there’s a place where the slats are missing. These young squirrels use that as their entry to the space inside the fence, and are always popping up like jack-in-the-boxes to spook their sibs coming down the big tree. Then everybody has a caucus race inside-outside-inside the fence, until someone finally jumps back onto the tree and they start the tree-spiral. <br> <br>One of the new ones has a white tip on his tail, so I’m calling him Spot. Another has a much smaller white tip. Can’t help it, I named her Spit. The other has no distinguishing features, which, when he gets as big as his mother, will be a problem. Because I soon won’t be able to pick him out, I call him Spook. Of course, their gender is pure projection on my part, what can I say? Together, these three are hilarious. (If you don’t believe me, ask Bella, who can’t take her eyes off them.) I hope they all feed their faces fully and then keep warm and dry in Squirrely’s new nest, wherever it is, until tomorrow’s storm blows over. <br>

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