Friday, February 25, 2011

Nutty Days

Jersey rolled out of bed, his whiskers twitching in the fall air. The briskness was exactly what they needed. It would bleed the strength from the stems holding the acorns to the trees. A tuft of fur between his ears stood up and he fruitlessly pushed a paw through the cowlick. With one hand on the door hole, he prepared to leap into the tree's void.

"Honey, remember to take the trash out," called Jersey's wife.

"Yes... yes." He looked to the door's side and saw the bag filled with husks that he'd set there last night. Next time, he needed to place the bag right in front of the door. If he couldn't help but stumble over the bag, then he would remember. He checked the bumpers all the way down to the garbage dumpster on the forest floor and they were all aligned correctly. He calculated the velocity and lifted himself on the twig pull-up bar to swing once and kicked with both feet to launch the bag against the first bumper.

Without a second glance he leapt into the void outside his house to glide over the forest floor holding his arms and legs out to catch the air in the skin flaps between his limbs. He would careen off the oak trees at stress points that he'd already marked out and the collision would shake the acorns to the ground.

Two sets of claws wrapped around his arms as a pair of kestrels lifted him into the air. "Hey, I'm busy. I'm going to miss my targets."

The birds cawed. "You'll make a juicy snack."

Jersey struggled, but claws were tight around him as he dangled no longer gliding through the air. "I've got a job to do."

"Figures," said the female kestrel. "They always argue about the laws."

"Laws don't keep our stomachs full," said her husband.

Jersey shook his head as they rose over the tops of the trees. Predators had a different view of the laws. As they rose higher, he saw a symmetry in the trees that he couldn't see when he was closer to them. Yes, he'd set up the stress points to get all the nuts, but he could combine that with an extra sling that would drop from the trees with the energy from the nuts and sweep the pine needles from the school's eaves. Not bad, thought Jersey, he could wrap up all his work with a little extra effort. Of course, first he had to avoid becoming lunch.

"Where are we going?" asked Jersey.

"Someplace quiet," said the male kestrel. "Meals should be eaten in peace."

Jersey struggled but he couldn't get free. "I'm not going to be a quiet meal. There are better pickings out there," he squeaked.

The female kestrel ground her claws tight to painfully squeeze Jersey's forearm. "There are ways to bring peace to our meal."

Her motion created enough space for Jersey to twist his hand and tickle the base of her foot. She careened into her husband and the two of them flailed falling toward the ground. They released Jersey to stabilize their descent. Jersey concentrated on the stress points with a minor modification that he'd seen. He had to come in fast, so the kestrels couldn't recover him. He knocked the acorns loose and swept the needles.

He struck the stress point solidly and careened from tree to tree as acorns pinged like raindrops to land on the forest floor. He didn't have the sling this time, but because of his momentum he slid across the roof dragging the pine needles with him. With a last caper he rounded up the acorns from the ground and scrambled up the tree and into his hole dropping the acorns into the storage bin.

He crawled into bed with his wife.

"Hmm..." His wife rolled over. "Home already? You're lazy today."

"No, no. I got everything accomplished." Jersey flicked a pine needle out of his fur.

"How do you get so much done?"

"Multitasking," he replied.


  1. LOL! Love it. Squirrels, not my favorite rodent, but I could get attached to this Jersey. Well told, such a fun read.

  2. This one was a fun read :) Perhaps I'll look more kindly on the squirrels that have been stealing our apples now. LOL

  3. Hrh, I liked the multitasking comment at the end. You always think chatting non-human animals would be neat, but would they have anything useful to say? Also liked that you chose a kestrel.

  4. @Rebecca, "could get attached" reminds me of a gig we did in the peasants guild at RenFaires. We had three fake squirrels that we'd pin to a poor peasant who ran around fair while we chased them attempting to pound the squirrels to a pulp... but we'd tend to miss ;) Hmmm... reading over that it sounds dreadful. It was rather silly and slightly out of taste (like most of our gigs).

    @Tessa, you'll have to add an amendment to the law book making "apples" non-squirrel food ;)

    @Stephen, thanks.

    @John, You have a dog's voice in my head now saying: "You are the best... You are the best... Where's my bone... You are the best... You are the best..."

  5. Flying squirrel how fun! I liked that Jersey kept his cool no matter what was happening to him. Always thinking ahead.

  6. @Lara, Thanks. He may keep his cool, but I hope his introspection and clue-lessness comes through a little too. :)

  7. Next time, he needed to place the bag right in front of the door. If he couldn't help but stumble over the bag, then he would remember.

    Fun piece. And those lines are me entirely, by the way.

    By the way, have you ever seen Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox? It blends a lot of the mundane silliness of our lives with those of animals. Quite a good flick.

  8. I had a good giggle from this Aidan, a clever and unusual story.

    PS. I downloaded "The Precedent" from a free-library and have just read it, Awesome read, thanks for putting it in my direction.

  9. Clever! A flying squirrel, intelligent enough to outwit a predator while figuring out how to get his day's quota of acorns! I like that… I might have to bookmark this for when my grandkid gets old enough to understand stories and read it to him them…

  10. @Loren, I haven't seen Fantastic Mr. Fox. I'll keep it in mind; it sounds like fun.

    @Steve, no problem, glad you liked it.

    @FARfetched, I think Jersey makes an excellent role model (well, except that squirrel thing :)

  11. Oh I loved this! I was very worried he was going to end up being lunch but it was good to see him thinking practically, and getting the job done!