Sammy Squirrel and the Cat - story, art, and photo by Catinka Knoth, 4/24/14
Sammy Squirrel had spent his morning doing his usual routine of eating peanuts from the critter feeder or burying peanuts he found there. He had also made plenty of runs up and down and back and forth between the trees in the area he lived in.
This area had a road going through it. Lots of cars, trucks, and big huge trucks went on this road. This traffic went by in waves. It was not super fast but neither did it crawl. When the cars whizzed by, it sounded a bit like waves of the ocean. Sammy liked to see what goodies were on the other side of this road. There were big houses along both sides of the road. The houses had big lawns and yards in front of them so they set back from the road. Sometimes Sammy crossed the road by using the telephone wires that went between the telephone poles. He ran across the wire as if he were a tightrope walker.
But most of the time Sammy just ran across the road. Sometimes he started across a lawn to head across the road and a huge tractor trailer truck would suddenly zoom past him. Sammy would get bowled over by the blast of air made by the big truck and Sammy would race back to a safe spot under a bush close to the nearest house, until he could catch his breath. He would wait til it sounded quiet and the earth felt still. Then he would run across the road again. Squirrels had to be careful whenever they crossed any wide open areas.
Going out into a wide open area where there were no places for small animals to hide, made it easy for hunting birds to see the animal and swoop down while flying to catch it. A squirrel made a good meal for an eagle, especially an eagle that had a nest of two hungry growing babies, eaglets. Eaglets need a lot of food in order to grow big, and to grow to full size in a short time.
Eagle parents usually just brought mice for their eaglets. A squirrel would be a big catch for an eagle and could be quite a few meals for the eaglets.
The silly cat who loved to chase Sammy sometimes followed Sammy across the road. The cat got plenty of food from different people. He had appeared in Sammy's neighborhood over a year ago towards the end of winter around the time when people tapped maple trees for sap. The sap from the maple trees started to rise up the tree and people gathered some of that sap to make maple syrup. One of the people in the neighborhood had taps in the maple trees and a little shack where he boiled sweet sap down until it became maple syrup. The cat would sometimes crawl into the shack at night for shelter or to take a nap.
No one knew where the cat came from. It was a friendly young cat. There were still snow storms at that time of year, and that cat was out and about all hours of the night and day. One could see its big furry paw prints in the fresh snow after a storm. He was friendly to all the people who came and went from the houses and cars in Sammy's neighborhood.
The people even started arguing with each other over who wanted to try to get the cat to stay in their house. He had ended up staying mostly with one person. That person never knew where the cat went whenever the cat did not answer calls and whistles to come in for breakfast, dinner, or supper, or the night.
The cat came and went as it pleased. Often times it came in the morning for breakfast, slept in the house for most of the day,
and then decided it wanted to go out to see what was going on outside: what it could chase, what or with whom it could hunt or play, with whom it could argue. Or how it could chase away any strange cats that tried to come into this neighborhood that it had decided was its own territory.
This cat was not a hungry cat. It was well fed by now. But it loved to chase, tussle, and hunt. Sammy Squirrel always ran away from the cat. That made it much more fun for the cat.
Sammy had that big bushy tale that waved behind him. That flicking tail was very intriguing to the cat. Sammy was too big to be a good catch for the cat. But still the cat tried. Sammy had only to run up a tree. The cat would climb up the tree trunk a little ways after Sammy and then jump down before he got too high. He was probably too heavy to keep climbing straight up with just his claws holding onto the trunk. When the cat was a kitten, he was light enough to be able to climb straight up a tree quite far. One time he got stuck high up in a tree and was too afraid to come down.
He could not go down head first. Cats usually move in the direction they are facing. If the cat wants to go back where it came from it might not think to go down backwards. If it tries to go down a tree head first it will see how far away the ground is. It might take a long time before the cat either figures out to go down backwards, or to risk everything and go down head first.
This cat had learned he should not go too far up the tree after any squirrels or birds. Running across a wide open area after a squirrel was another matter. The cat was bigger than the squirrel so his legs were longer and could cover the ground faster. The squirrel had to have quite a head start to stay clear of the cat. Sometimes the cat would see the squirrel moseying around the lawn across the road with his tail flickering and wiggling behind him. What a temptation that tail was to the cat. The cat too was aware of the traffic that came in waves across the road. He, like Sammy, listened and felt the vibrations in the ground more than he watched for the traffic. Any person seeing Sammy or the cat cross the road, which was considered a busy road, might feel their own heart jump into their throat for fear that the traffic wave would catch up to one of the animals as they crossed the road. Cat Chasing Sammy Squirrel Across the Road Coloring Page
The drivers in the cars would sometimes see Sammy or the cat way ahead of them racing across the road. The driver would pray that Sammy and/or the cat made it across the road before their car got there. One could not just stop one's car for these animals with all that traffic behind one. One could not swerve the car to try not to hit the animal.
That could cause a traffic accident. If traffic were also coming in the other direction, then a swerve could mean driving into the traffic. A sudden swerve could upset the balance of the car and make it fall over. A big heavy vehicle moving in one direction and suddenly trying to change directions just could not change directions that quickly. Part of it still kept going in the direction it had been going in. Objects in motion had to change directions gradually.
No one knew whether these animals were lucky, or really knew how to safely cross that busy road. It certainly looked scary to the people who gave food to the cat and set out peanuts for the squirrel in the critter feeder. But day after day those animals made it back and forth across the road safely, sometimes apparently just barely so. Every once in a while there were animals that were not so lucky. They were the slower ones, or those that did not get a lot of practice in how to do it. It just took one time of getting almost hit by a vehicle, for an animal like Sammy Squirrel or the cat to learn they needed to watch out for traffic. They learned their lessons quickly.
Posted by Catinka Knoth
at 5:58 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014 6:52 PM EDT