Sunday, March 09, 2008

Squirrels on the Alarm


This is a view of the swamps outside of Hart Springs, where we recently canoed to along the Suwannee River.

I tell you what, the swamps knew long before I did what these months of transition would bring. The soggy still waters of quiet putrification are quite beautiful in the late winter. It's an eery beauty that feels out-of-time.

Later, I walked through the cypress, oak and palm forest near my parents' house and the silence was broken by five squirrels who alarmed me in bitchy stereophonics. I've never been so aggressively stalked by squirrel before and I stood befuddled for a while. Finally I moved forward again on the trail and spooked the young buck that waited around the bend - he took off and honked at me repeatedly from a safe distance.

The squirrels are well trained to report humans to the forest. Turns out this is especially so in these woods because a neighbor often hunts, both in and out of season. The watchful squirrels sent out the alarm in all directions, carried forward by the birds like a ripple of disturbance in a still pond. That's the metaphor naturalist Jon Young uses for the "concentric rings of nature."

Can't a man just traipse through the forest like the gentle pirate he is? Not yet; the squirrels will make that call.

2 comments:

Dr. Desiree said...

Of all the phrasings here, I like "bitchy stereophonics" the best. Nice work, Dungan. Take my boat.

Mr. Squirrel said...

CHIRK! CHIRK! CHIRKETY-CHIRK-CHIRK!