• Posted: Dec 12, 2011 09:03:12
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On the morning of a new snow, a fat squirrel stirs from his nest high up in the fork of the old maple. He crawls far out on an eastwardly facing limb, pauses to pee, then moves a few inches farther to where the limb branches up and out. He just sits there, tail up, watching the sun rise through leaf bare trees. The air is cold, the sky is clear, there is very little wind. The squirrel's nose twitches. His eyes reflect the morning light. His ears stand alert. But, there is little to hear. In a while, the fat bushy brown squirrel returns along the snow dabbed limb to his nest in the hollow just above the fork to nibble and nap until it's time to forage in the woods.
Meanwhile, a second squirrel, a younger squirrel, wanders out from the woods to the west, into the snow matted high grasses, poking his nose here and there into the matts looking for forage. Eventually, he spies the tall maple out on the smooth snow of the lawn. He bounds toward its trunk and grabs hold. A few feet up, he stops, sniffing, twitching his high arced tail. Does he sense the other squirrel? He circles round the trunk, inching upward toward the main fork. The older squirrel can be seen with his head barely out of the nest, hands up, nibbling on an acorn, unaware of the approaching intruder.
Finally, the two meet. There is a momentary shocked standoff, and a bristling of hair. Then the fat older one drops the acorn and charges, chattering loudly and menacingly. The younger one turns and circles the trunk, perhaps baiting the older to leave the nest and follow, so he can claim it from the other side. But no, the old one is too wise. He halts his attack and flips round, up and over the fork, to defend the other side. More chattering and another charge. The young one gives up and descends the the main trunk, eventually bounding back across the snow covered lawn exactly as he came.
Some time later, the older squirrel, calmed, secure in his dominance, pokes his head out of the nest, descends the maple tree's thick trunk, and bounds eastward across the lawn toward the woods for another day's winter forage.
Each of us seeks a fruitful niche. Some try to usurp the niche of others. Others trample over and destroy the niches of many. Instead, may the niche you find to defend and exploit, by consequence, improve, not diminish, the healthful viability of many others.
Saturday, January 9th, 2010
13.7 mm 65 mm