Odd Little Account

I was thinking about change. Simple changes, breaking patterns (I don’t mean political change or social change, I mean personal alteration). I think people have a hard time with changing their habits and routines. Even if their current behavior is detrimental. People seem accustomed to familiarity and perhaps they find some security in doing a routine or following a pattern. I have a few bad habits.

One in particular is tossing peanuts out the kitchen window to the squirrels.  It started innocently, having some fun with a few of the braver rodents. They would creep closer and I encouraged them. Eventually I coaxed a few of the bolder ones to the window sill. All the humans thought this was a cute trick.

Then we had a few breakins. Nothing major, just some missing handfuls of peanuts and a clever hole in the plastic container. More cuteness. And more squirrels came to see the legend for themselves. A few nuts on the window sill was modified to a few handfuls thrown out to the driveway. It was like herding fluffy rats. Good fun.

It’s gone too far, and I am to blame. If I open the kitchen window, teams of flying Walenda North American tree monkeys come leaping and hopping in hopes of an audience. They stand on their little crooked feet and pose, forepaws held together in polite prayer, all waiting for peanuts.

A buck a week turned into 10. I started buying the 4kg bulk bag. (That’s about eight pounds.) But more came and they brought friends. The planter box outside the window sill looked like a downtown melee, rough and tumble, jockeying for position, and I noticed a heirarchy developing. Muscle was setting the rules on who got preferred seating. I needed to change my habit, my behavior.

Change is funny because it starts in an instant. It starts when you say, ‘no more’, and take the long road instead. At the moment of change, a whole new row of doorways open, like angling two mirrors together, suddenly an infinite line of new possibilities awakens. The act of doing the different approach, or breaking a habit, finds its on positive path.

So I went out in the deep backyard with a bag of peanuts and began placing them selectively in trees and shrubs like easter eggs. This would keep the little buggers busy, I reasoned. I threw some in the grass and out across the fence line into the pasture. The groundwork was laid for the squirrels to embark on a new treasure hunt unrelated to the kitchen window.

That decision to act differently, to consciously change directions and do life a better way is a powerful catalyst. It could apply to anything, the route we take to school or work, maybe to walk more, or not eat donuts for breakfast and make something better. To not let a window full of oily little finger prints cloud my world and take the moment to wipe away the veil and let in some new light. It’s like I know inside what’s right, what works, but I’ve been lazy, into self gratification and falling into the pit of a little bad habit. But change one and more follow. Streamline your life and change becomes exhilarating. Seeking the most efficient and beneficial patterns to perform become liberating. My world is easier, leaner, quicker and more deeply satisfying. Part of change involves cutting away the baggage of the past, taking the leap and committing to an inner harmony that was smothered. Or drowning.

That was my reward; by changing up the peanut/squirrel routine—I got to save a life. I was in the back, flicking peanuts hither and yon, when I heard a thrashing and struggle near the garden shed. A planter had filled with water and inside was a young grey squirrel in a desperate fight to keep it’s head above water while lunging for any grip along the sides. It was futile, so I dumped him out. The animal hit the grass and flattened out half drowned. It was exasperated. It struggled further into the bushes and sat, panting, for a long time. I could virtually see it’s heart pounding. The squirrel was on it’s last when I found it and I doubt it would have stayed up more than a few seconds longer. As a life, there’s a tragedy in that. But now it crouched, half way between hyperventilating and falling asleep in shock. A frail, small half drowned rodent, probably attracted to the property by rumors of a great nut spree.

I waited, standing near to fend of the lurking barn cats, while the animal tried to regain composure. I would have liked to bundle the youngster and dry it, get some heat back into it, but I felt the animal might have had a seizure if I tried. In retrospect, grab them right away, when they first hit the ground in shock. Don’t wait until you assess the situation. At this time, the animal was capable of skittering out of reach, even if winded. The deed was done. It’s cooler today and I hope the thing didn’t get hypothermia. It was through the fence line and in the thicket which offers reasonable safety. I hid a handful of nuts where his exit route was, and left the squirrel once again to its own devices. It nags me sometimes, wishing I could do more when I see a desperate fate lying before me. That’s something I have to get over. I did feel oddly thankful for the opportunity, to participate in changing the universe, a bit part, anyway.

Back at the ranch, there are a few stragglers, the old time regulars who can’t believe that the party is over. Blaze and White Ears, they’ll never accept it. But this change is good for us. It feels good.

Just an odd little account. Peace and happy trails.

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  1. […] Prior post, Odd Little Account. Heads up, touching on fear below. Angst alert. Life. The hollow, peering out. I have this overwhelming need for control, to never lose one. I know many here understand this, all people touch it, and in the work you do. It’s so precious, the chance at experience for each of us. No one is an object and no one should be rejected by life. But my control is futile. My anguish is futile. Did I do the deed I was to do? Did I pick up the transmission? Or do I intervene, a bull in a glass house smashing karma and divine will? Me again, affecting, having it my way, pounding down the world so it’s no longer real. Is the idea of forever so good? I force change on myself because I want to remind myself that I am alive and that I am participating on a fluid chance. I don’t want to waste my life in a fear of not knowing. The door is cast open and there’s no where else to go. […]

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