My home office overlooks a corner of my backyard that I’ve started call The Playground. It has a small serenity pond and plenty of features to climb on, making it a favorite place for squirrels to frolic.
There are six or seven that seem to make my yard home, including one that my son has named Nutsy – with a notched tail and a penchant for starting high-speed games of squirrel-chase-squirrel. Nutsy often sits on the fence, chewing an acorn while staring at me through the window. I’d miss him if he stopped showing up. But the squirrels in my yard manage to stay out of Cedar Road, and they seem to have a good life free of predators (except for my dogs, who apparently like chasing squirrels more than catching them).
I’ve learned that such a comfortable life isn’t, shall I say, par for the course among squirrels in the Heights.
A friend recently told me about the last time he played golf at the Oakwood Club before it closed (a pleasure I never had). A member of his foursome – after first driving a ball onto Warrensville Road and hitting a car – managed to worm-burn another Titleist to the right of the fairway and into the path of a foraging squirrel.
The stricken squirrel fell over onto his back, eyes closed, paws in the air. Half amused, half horrified, the golfers assumed the worst. But after a few moments, the squirrel wriggled back to life, stood up and not-quite-scampered into the brush.
The episode prompted a story from a third member of the foursome who, earlier in the season, had hit a squirrel while driving balls on the practice range.
The effect was the same: The little animal fell to his back, eyes closed, paws in the air. But just as he started to wriggle back to consciousness, a Cooper’s Hawk soared out of nowhere, and plucked the hapless rodent from the ground. It was, to any human knowledge, never seen again.