Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Hi Folks!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you're having a great summer.

As you may have noticed, I misspelled the word "chipmunks" in the title. I did that on purpose. My orange tabby, Spanky, calls them "chipmuks." It doesn't matter to me what he calls them, and I don't think Spanky's much of a speller anyway. I just know that he and I both like the little critters.

Before I moved into my current house, I rented one on an old estate. I loved that place! It had quirky features to it, and the sort of character that new houses just don't have. The whole south-facing side of the house had huge windows, with these big wide sills that seemed to have no purpose whatsoever other than to provide my cats with a comfortable spot for bird-watching.

There was a side door on the house that led nowhere, other than the vast expanse of the estate itself. It's not like you'd use that door to take out the garbage, or go to your car - those things were on the opposite side of the house. That side door also had a brick walk that led nowhere. The bricks had been there so long that many of them had sunk into the ground, causing the entire walk to look warped. It all added to the charm of the place.

To the right of the side door was a long row of old overgrown yew shrubs that ran the length of the house and hid who-knows-how-many woodland creatures. To the left side of the door was a bed of ivy that had not only climbed the outside wall of the house, but was well up onto the roof, too. A few feet away stood an old box elder tree which was home to numerous birds and squirrels. It was all very enchanting.

There was a proper all-weather door on that side of the house, but no screen door. When I realized the entertainment possibilities for the cats, I had an old-style screen door installed, the kind that's more screen than door. The cats would gather around it and watch the critters outside come and go. Eventually, I took to putting out sunflower seeds and ears of corn to attract even more critters.

It was the chipmunks who made that brick walk a daily feature of their routines. Squirrels, mice, and the occasional bird would stop by, but the chipmunks really took over. No one was more enthused about that than Spanky. He loved their quick movements, and the way their tails twitched. He could sit, mesmerized, for hours! Chipmuks were by far his favorite animals.

When I moved to the house I'm in now, it took me a while to notice that there weren't any chipmunks. At all. This puzzles me because there's a wooded property adjacent to my own, with a field of tall grass between us. Maybe the chipmunks don't feel the need to wander past their woods, I don't know. I just know that there are none on my property.

I gave some thought to putting out something tempting to attract the little rodents, but quickly nixed the idea because I don't want to attract raccoons, as well. One of my first nights in this house, I heard a noise, looked out the front window and saw a large raccoon sitting on top of one of my garbage cans, trying to get the lid off the other. Don't get me wrong - I like raccoons. I just don't want to encourage them to hang around.

So Spanky and I are both a little depressed about the lack of chipmuks. I really miss having them around. I love how cheerful and carefree they are, and they're cute as buttons besides. If I could figure out a way to have a whole family of them living on the property, I would.

It's hard trying to explain their absence to Spanky, who doesn't understand why they want to stay in the woods when they could come over and "play" with him. I've tried to distract him by pointing out visiting rabbits and squirrels, but he's just not interested. I can't blame him; it's not the same at all.

I don't have a happy ending for this story, just some cautionary advice to enjoy what you have while you have it. I spent four years smiling over those chipmunks. Hell, I spent time staring at them through the screen door, too! I'd hunker down on the floor, surrounded by cats, and grin over their antics. It's surprising, now, how large a presence they were in our lives: there's definitely a quiet place where chipmuks used to be. Dang it!

That's all for now, folks. I hope you're able to take a few minutes out of your day and enjoy your four-legged neighbors. They can be such fun to watch! Until next time, please be kind to all the critters!

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