Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mountain training and time with the squirrels

Yesterday I went for “mountain training” which meant climbing up the 1000 foot elevation to the top of Mount Doug (around here, lots of things are named for Doug, who must be a hip guy – maybe it refers to James Douglas, Governor of Vancouver Island, or maybe just for Cool Doug who opened the Bowl-a-rama, hard to say). You start at sea level and wind up an almost 2 km road to the top (for those who don’t know metric: 2 kilometers=35 miles). The road is spray-painted with different messages for those doing “mountain training.” First comes “Smile, you’re half way”, then “1 km”, then “Almost there”. I would have taken pictures but by the top, I wasn't looking so pretty. Had that "glow" which tends to drip off and leave pools on the ground. The only insight I gained during mountain training was “oxygen is good!”

I haven’t been blogging quite as frequently, and this must be because I am helping various think tanks, right? Well, almost, it is more like there are several beautiful sunny days and I have been in the park getting mugged by squirrels. Linda bought some unshelled peanuts to give to the squirrels; here on the island there are grey squirrels and black squirrels. The grey squirrels are like the three stooges, and I really wonder how they survive year to year as waiting patiently or throwing peanuts near them tends to confuse their very small though processes which go: “What’s this? A peanut? Wait, wait, I used to remember what to do with this?” And then they run headlong into a stump.

Black squirrels on the other hand all seem to be members of the mob; they are smart, they are paranoid, and they practice intimidation and extortion. Two days ago, I tossed a black squirrel a peanut, which he grabbed, looked me over, started toward his hiding place (they bury them in the ground), before looking back over his shoulder, reversing, running up the tree, leaping to the next one and racing down the trunk 15 feet away in some masterly technique to lose anyone following (which would have worked if I wasn’t like 400 times his size). The next day, Linda and I are walking though the park and this black squirrel about 100 yards away starts running toward us – no deviation, just full on, directly towards me. Linda is fumbling with the bag as the squirrel barrels on closer and closer and I start to panic, “hurry, hurry, he’s coming.” By the time I got the peanut, the squirrel was a few feet away and showed no signs of slowing down. Freaked that he would just continue right up my leg and go for the soft parts of the eyes, I dropped him his peanut extortion right away. Later another came straight at me again, even though Linda had the peanut, and I had to keep positioning Linda between it and me to stop it from coming after me (now, I’m not SCARED of these black squirrels exactly, just cautious!).

Today Linda says that before we can go outside we have to do some ancient tribal ritual she calls, “Cleaning up”. I’m not exactly sure what that is, but I think it means less time in front of the computer and more time as a fetch and carry girl.


kathz said...

I've only ever seen black squirrels in Canada. Here they are all grey except for a couple of areas where there are still red squirrels (I think I've seen two red squirrels in my life but grey squirrels are everywhere, mugging people in the hope of peanuts). Do you know what the difference between grey and black squirrels is? Are they different sub-species or just different colours?

Cap'n Dyke said...

From "First off, it's no secret that some Canadians blame the USA for creating the maniacal black nutkin, either as part of a genetic engineering experiment gone wrong, or as the result of a nuclear accident." (And they could be right...)

Black squirrels are a variety of the eastern grey squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis.

This 'Cleaning up', is it harder than mountain trainin' then? Sounds like it. I'll stick t'mountain trainin', thank'e.

Sober @ Sundown said...

Ever thought of duct-taping the legs of your pants?

elizabeth said...

Must be something to do with the local wildlife - I just got back from out there. I was standing on the balcony eating a bagel and this black and blue jay type of bird landing directly in front on me and screamed at me. I handed over the bagel toute suite. Then he brought back friends.