Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wildlife Close Encounters

This is the time of year when the earth comes alive. Boise is getting spectacularly beautiful, with blossoms on many trees, the daffodils and tulips, and vibrant green new foliage.

The critters are on the move, too.

Yesterday (after leaving the dentist's office), I got a flat tire on my way to the office. I was close, so I decided to just walk a couple blocks. And I had a rather amusing encounter with an urban squirrel.

(Poor squirrels! They are the Outlaw Bikers of the animal kingdom - their motto is "Live Fast, Die Young, and leave a Furry Patch on the Highway.")

Anyhow... I was walking down the sidewalk pushing my bike, and I spotted Mr. Squirrel in the gutter, behind a parked car. Just at that moment, for a reason only he could understand, he decided to head across my path for the lawn and trees on the other side of the sidewalk. He ran, and came up against my rolling front wheel. For maybe 3 seconds, he scurried along right next to the rolling wheel, actually rubbing against it - then he made his move, trying to dash in front of it. He was a bit too close - the (flat) tire rolled against his little noggin, and I felt a grating sensation... like when you hit a round rock and push it in front of your wheel ever so briefly. Poor guy! He jerked loose and altered his trajectory, leaving at least a foot between the wheel and himself, and made it to the other side. He appeared to have not suffered any permanent damage, but I suspect he had a bit of road-rash under his chinny-chin-chin.

As I went on down the sidewalk, I cast a glance backwards. He was standing on the sidewalk, watching me with what seemed to be a hurt-feelings expression. "Why did you run over me???"

Then on my way home, I was riding the asphalt and noticed a little garter snake coiled up. (On cool but sunny spring and autumn days, they seem to enjoy the warmth that gets absorbed by the dark-colored asphalt. Unfortunately, that tends to put them right in harm's way.) Since my granddaughter loves toads and lizards and snakes, I stopped and collected him. They're a little stinky, so I used one of my "emergency rainstorm grocery bags" that I carry to cover my shoes in the event of an unexpected downpour.

As expected, Mackie loved him! We put him in a big wheelbarrow and exchanged pleasantries for an hour or so, then we bagged him back up and took him back home - right to the spot where I had found him. The story had a happy ending, I hope. (And we hope he'll come out to see us sometime in the future, as we go by.)



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