Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Requiem for a Chipmunk. Too Quiet a Garden

Stripes disappeared about four weeks ago and our garden is so quiet and empty.

There have been chipmunks as part of our outdoor family ever since we moved here; probably they were already residents.

It may not have been the same chipmunk, but I like to think so. He dug up the tulip bulbs my husband tirelessly planted, ate peanuts voraciously, often running almost across our feet when we sat out in summer. He’d call to let others know when the cats took their walks around the garden – to him it was HIS garden.

At one time there were three of them chasing, racing, chirruping all over. Mostly there was only one.

He was never aggressive. I’d see him surrounded by mourning doves on the grass, chickadees safe in the blossom tree, a squirrel, perhaps a pheasant wandering around, all living peaceably together.

For several winters we admired his resilience in burrowing a tunnel about 20 feet long from his home under a shed to the shelf at the side door we kept filled with seeds and nuts. He was a survivor.

He was so quick too. Who or what could have caught or harmed him?  We’ve searched the garden, no sign of him.

I still expect to see him sitting by a planter, a nut held carefully in his front paws. Or to wait quietly as I come up the path, not wanting to disturb him as he eats.

To my sadness I cannot find any photo of him. What lives in my mind is his swift grace, his playfulness and the life he brought to our garden.

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