Rip Van Rodent vs (Not Tony) Hawk, Part I

All I know is that this squirrel is luckier than even my own ridiculous self.

…maybe I should back up.

Picture it, Sicily, 1920–no, no, wait, I’m not a Golden Girl. (Yet.) The time was just a few days ago, location the Kingdom of Backyard, the temperature scorching–last night’s thunderstorms broke the heat wave, but we’re still looking at 85F+ days. On that bright sunny fry-an-egg noon, Yours Truly was desperate to get back inside and take shelter in relative coolth, having just closed the windows and turned the air conditioning on.

True to form, that particular bit of climate engineering constituted a Change in Boxnoggin’s ever-humble opinion, and since Any Change Is Bad, he had to make his nervous displeasure known. Consequently we had to go outside and look for a spot august enough to receive the fruits of his bladder. Though only one or two spots are so deserving in our small kingdom, still he must investigate every corner, because who can tell when a certain bit of grass or sensitive plant I’d really like not to be killed suddenly requires a baptism? He is a creature of Maximum Inconvenience, our dear Box, and takes his responsibilities in that area extremely serious-like.

Also, the crows were setting up a racket. I didn’t pay much attention since Jerry wasn’t stuck in the fence and they weren’t dive-bombing me and the dog; I was too laser-focused on getting said canine’s bladder serviced without melting. So Box dragged me all over the northern half of the yard, sticking his nose everywhere with no real interest, only a desire to draw out the occasion as long as possible.

I might have missed the ensuing drama completely had the dog not stopped, head upflung and one paw lifted, the very illustration of a pointer. His tail perked, his ears nearly stood out from his head, and he stared at the (much sunnier) southron half of the yard, where the herbiage has gotten a little longer since I can’t be bothered to mow just yet. (We all know what tends to happen when I clip the herbiage.) I followed the line of his gaze, and took a firmer grip upon the leash.

For lo and behold, there upon the sward lingered Rip Van Rodent, busily ignoring the crows’ stadium-yells and the fact that just uphill there was a monkey and sixty-plus pounds of quick, determined, rat-hunting predator. No, Rip could not have cared less. He was busy burying something snackable, or excavating it, or fucking around with I-don’t-even-wanna-know. Tail high though his gaze was just as sleepy as ever, he moved with stately precision. He bounded over a clump of gooseweed, passed under a disintegrating patio table, and sashayed out into golden sunshine.

Now, I am of the opinion that Rip was feeling the squirrel version of hubris. After all, he was two points ahead of Boxnoggin and clearly the better player. The fact that I am holding Lord van der Sploot’s leash at any given moment while outside could even be seen as further insurance for squirrel victories–I am a civilian authority, if you will, restraining a general who wishes to drive upon the capital city of his foes. Rip Van Rodent was at the top of his game, on a hot streak and doubling his chips each time.

He might even have thought the crows were cheering him. They really were making an awful racket, and as I figured out what Box was looking at I took a moderately deep breath. I was about to remark, “oh, look, your little friend,” to Boxnoggin, possibly with an edge of gentle sarcasm and deep amusement. But what actually came out of my mouth was much different.

In fact, I let out a, “JESUS CHRIST” like King Arthur seeing the Vorpal Bunny take a bite out of Sir Bors. Because over the sleepy-eyed, highly confident squirrel loomed a growing shadow, and in that moment I figured out what the fuck the crows were yelling about.

It was a hawk.

To be continued…