gray squirrel

Fog heightens the intrigue of January’s gray-squirrel soap opera: the slow-motion chases, the tree-top fights, the ruses to elude stalkers.

Cold and quiet but for the muffled cries of squirrels mating or fighting in the springhouse attic. A dozen snowflakes wander into the yard.

Once more the snow has retreated to the shadiest spots. Ignoring a squirrel’s hawk alarm, a Carolina wren burbles with what sounds like joy.

‪A love triangle of squirrels clambering through the lilac, shaking puffs of fresh snow from the limbs. The chattering call of a small hawk.‬

Bleary, I squint at a smudge of sun, watch squirrels running for hundreds of yards through the woods, feet almost noiseless on the soft ice.

January has come early: the icy snowpack hard as a brick, a squirrel already in heat. A pursuing male pauses to groom his face and genitals.

I watch a squirrel diligently disinterring a walnut from the frozen earth and think, no. I identify with the crow, its harsh denunciations.