Dorothy Harris

Squirrel: Some assembly required

Shere Khan, our pumpkin-colored cat, received an injury and following his healing, now lives indoors. In the six weeks or so since our Orange Boy made his transition from wandering freeloader to pampered house cat, our other outdoor feline has found himself with no one to scrap with. Now, he apparently works out his frustrations on the small woodland creatures around our home. Instead of opening my door in the mornings to a flurry of black and orange cat hair, it's more like the daily surprise. Sometimes, I'm not even sure what it is or was, but I'm careful to step over the remains as I give thanks for my strong stomach. Who knew cats were like this? In his defense, Bagheera came to us on his own. Whether he was a ditched house pet or a feral kitten that just happens to be extremely friendly, it's clear his early years were rough ones. Less we forget he's one tough cookie, he leaves us evidence on a regular basis. There was cat yak on the walkway one morning and as we hosed it away, it was all too clear it wasn't just a hair ball. "Are those legs," my daughter asked, examining it a bit too closely. Sure enough, the frog went down easier than it came up. "For goodness sakes, Bagheera," I scolded, "Why on earth are you eating frogs when your food bowl is always full?" The cat answered me with complete silence, because after all, cats can't talk.
The next day, when Mr. Harris arrived home, he asked, "Where is the other half of the squirrel?" Not missing a beat I gestured to the food cooking on the stove and replied, "I thought we were cutting back so I only prepared half." "No seriously," he said, "Have you seen the rest of the squirrel?" My daughter went outside with him and they found it. At least they thought they had until they realized both were bottom halves of a squirrel. Viewing the two headless carcasses, I quipped, "So we have two halves that don't make a whole." Sure enough, these two squirrels, or as Mr. Harris pointed out later, more like one and a half squirrels, still had some parts missing. "This is bad," I insisted looking around for any live squirrels that might foolishly still hang around our house. "The neighbors are happy," Mr. Harris shrugged, knowing how they dislike tree rodents. The next morning, squirrel half number two still hadn't been discovered, but a leopard frog had been offered on the doormat of our temple. "Hey what kind of frog is this," my dear husband asked, hands cupped around the still living creature. "Where in the heck did he find that," I pondered knowing our neighborhood to have no wetlands where a frog of this kind might live. We reminisced how just a few years ago, this creature would have been given a name, a habitat and live on a diet of imported crickets for the rest of its life. Those days are long gone and the frog needed to be as well or it would likely resemble the squirrel come the next morn. It wasn't till a few days later the upper portion of one of the squirrels was found. Bagheera took the whole thing in stride, sprawled in our doorway, quietly licking his foot. He didn't say it, but I heard it anyway, "It took you all long enough to find it. This game is fun. Wonder what I can bring you tomorrow."