me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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The Annals of Squirrely and Squeeze: a plot twist!

Up very early yesterday, which was, as you may recall if you live in the Northeast, a snowy dark day. (In which I went to New Jersey for a Bat Mitzvah, but that's another story.) Up in the tree, a squirrel is sitting on the branch above the nest, and another about fifteen feet away on another branch. Too dark to see who's who -- but not to dark to see, a moment later, another head pop up from the nest! Holy Toledo, there's three of them! The one farthest makes a move closer, and is chattered at by the one above the nest. It stops and sits. Hmm, I say. Is this another male, eyeing Squirrely's home and bride? Squeeze is inside doing repairs, while Squirrely guards his castle? If so, why has the new guy picked such a lousy day to attempt his invasion? While I'm thinking, the squirrel in the nest comes out and runs to the big tree and down the trunk, with the close one in hot pursuit. The other runs after them, staying about ten feet behind, and this goes on up and down trees and branches until I lose them in the weather. And lo, the three are still at it this morning: two running close, one tagging behind. I didn't see them come out of the nest this morning, though, and I couldn't really tell from my angle who was who.

So I did a little reading up on gray squirrels and found this: males are not particularly territorial. In fact, it's not uncommon for them to nest communally, three or four all snuggled up in the winter nest, which by the way is called a drey, and is bigger and thicker than the summer drey. Male squirrels, also by the way, are called foxes and females are called vixens. Who knew? Youse don't mind if I don't use those terms, do youse? Anyway, it's unlikely that was Squirrely defending the nest from another male. Females, on the other hand, aren't territorial either, but will defend their young, usually against the males who, it saddens me to report, will occasionally kill them so the female will come into heat again. So my hypothesis: the squirrel doing home repairs was Squirrely. The squirrel on the branch was Squeeze, warning the newcomer, probably a male, to get lost, she had enough man trouble. The newcomer showed up on such a crappy day because wherever he was sleeping wasn't, he found out, snowproof. He's just looking for a warm place to lie down. Or, he was, until he was given the brushoff by Squeeze, who might not be acting like that unless she was in heat. She could be, by now; that would bring babies in early March. So he's following the two of them at a distance to see if there's any chance he might get a little action. And Squirrely, muscled dummy that he is, is just blithely looking for breakfast.

Or maybe they just all knew yesterday was National Squirrel Appreciation Day (thanks, Warren!) and they were showing off.

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