Yesterday for the first time in my life I felt sorry for a squirrel, AKA tree rat, AKA as mockingbirds know, the scourge of the suburban world.
I almost felt sorry for one some weeks ago.
I was driving down my street and in the shade of a tree, plastered flat on the asphalt as spread out as he could get, was a squirrel trying to cool off.
Never mind that cars sometimes drive down the asphalt and he could get creamed at any moment.
That was one desperate little squirrel.
Yesterday, I was alerted by squealing and piping that my birdbath was in use.
The starlings were throwing a pool party in my birdbath, as many as a dozen of them as usual.
They were splashing and pushing and chasing each other.
Meanwhile, my poor neighbor squirrel Tigger was sitting in the shady grass near my back porch looking at the splashing water with longing.
He moved toward it, back and forth across the lawn, keeping to the shady spots.
But the shade didn't stretch the whole way to the fence where the birdbath is.
If he wanted water, he was going to have to get out into the sunlight.
For nearly a week now we have been under what the meteorologists call a Bermuda High.
I remember one in 1988 that lasted quite two weeks.
The first evening that temperatures fell below 90 before the sun went down, people came out in the streets to get some fresh air.
This one is just as bad. Over the weekend temps were 101 with 45% humidity -- a heat index of 115.
Yesterday was a little better, temps and humidity both coming down.
Not enough for Tigger though. And there wasn't enough shade on my lawn for a squirrel to keep cool in while trying to get to water.
He wasn't going to get in, you understand.
There's almost nothing a squirrel hates so much as getting wet.
Not even hot crushed peppers and safflower seed mixed with the millet in my bird feeder.
That's why I can train them to stay off the feeder by shooting them with a toy water gun.
I'll bet Tigger's just smart enough to know that he would be cooler if he could take his pelt off and run around in his naked skin.
Anyway he looked pretty miserable.
He finally slouched away. Maybe he can get a mouthful after dark, if he has the guts to try it.
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