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    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Falls Past

    In looking toward the coming fall, for which I will have no delight here in LA, I proffer a moment from 2001, or there abouts, written while house sitting for my parents. It is from before the planes, so it must have been from the month of August.

    ACORNS AWAY or SQUIRRELS EMPLOY GRAVITY IN AN EFFORT TO DETER READING

    I like to read on the deck. The wind blows lightly across your face as the sun warms you. The light reflecting off the pages of the book is just right when viewed through a nice pair of sunglasses. So, since I’ve arrived here in Tennessee, that is exactly what I’ve done. I even positioned one of the nice cushioned outdoor chairs into just the right spot. In doing so, however, I made one crucial mistake. For above my chair protruding over the roof of the house was a very large limb of a very large Oak tree. Now as most people know, Oak trees have acorns. Who loves acorns? Squirrels of course. What is the rate of acceleration of an object in free fall? 9.8 ms2. Or at least that’s what I remember it to be. I got a “D” in Physics in High School. It is one thing to be Isaac Newton and have an apple fall on your head, which inspires your deduction of gravity, and it is quite another to be trying to read while you are rained upon by half eaten acorns dropped by voracious carefree squirrels.

    You would think that with winter coming they would deftly cleave from each seed all the nutrients it can provide. But alas no, they simply tear it open take a few bites and launch it downward. Sometimes their simple scurrying alone can unleash a deluge of carpeting assault. I stand, or sit actually, my ground as all around me echo the TINKS, CLINKS, CLANKS, and THUMPS of acorns as the ricochet off the wood decking or the glass topped table to my side. I hold firmly to my book, endeavoring to connect each word in its appropriate order and make meaning of its underlying truth, while listening in an effort to avoid being thunked in the head. The one good thing that has come from this is that I now have a keen ear for acorn acceleration. If they hit the roof first, I can predict whether I need to duck or not by the sound they make ramping down the overhang. Even with this newfound skill, if this keeps up I’ll have to unleash my secret weapon.

    As I have mentioned in previous musings, my cat Pascal enjoys being outside. He also, like most cats, enjoys killing small rodents. While I am against killing for pleasure, I do appreciate the way the squirrels react once I have unleashed my furry response to their incessant onslaught. To accurately capture the sound that squirrels make when alarmed by the approach of a predator, one would have to use the word “bark”. This is uttered by the lookout, whose job it is to, well, lookout; this is usually accomplished by turning upside down on the tree, so as to keep an eye on the enemy, and unleashing a series of staccato barks. Once this is accomplished all other squirrels in the vicinity head for the nearest tree. Once everyone is accounted for they all follow suit and begin barking. I have to wonder if this does not give a small rush of power to my cat. I know it would to me if I was to walk down the street and have everyone around me run to their roofs and begin barking down at me “Go away, we are afraid of you.” I have to assume my cat feels similarly. The cat firmly positioned on the deck in repose, still within any given squirrel’s sight line, I can return to my book. After a few pages the incessant barking of five or six squirrels becomes merely background white noise which is easily tuned out.

    Now some of you might say that I simply could have moved my chair and avoided all this in the first place. To you I say “Are you not willing to fight for what is rightly yours? Are you not willing to prevail in the face of free falling partially eaten acorns?” It is my belief that you are and would indeed do so. Illiteracy in this country shall not be governed by greedy cheek stuffing rats, who wish only to take as much as they can to survive the winters of their lives. I shall not be daunted by this rodent campaign to dumb down America. So, here I sit having weathered the most vicious attacks. There are still a few errant sniper situations on occasion, but the greater threat has now passed. The furry little buggers now scavenge the ground in an effort to finish what they have started, but here I sit, book in hand, occasionally dodging to the left or right as need be, engaged in the activity I find most gratifying, reading.

    TING…CLANG…THWACK.

    “HEY…WATCH IT YOU LITTLE FREAK! I’M TRYING TO READ HERE!”

    I miss Tennessee, I miss the fall and most specifically the squirrels.

    [© 2001 Greg Bunch]

    1 comment:

    The lovely and the talented said...

    You are so brave Greg. Few men would have stood their ground under that kind of assault. I feel so secure knowing there are men like you in this crazy world. Tennessee misses you too!