Sunlight Shining Through Cloud

Rocky and Rusty Butt

Posted on: May 23, 2011

We think of ourselves as city people.  I grew up in the Big Apple (New York), and Lisa grew up in the Little Apple (“Mini-apolis”, as the locals are fond of calling it).  We both like the energy that cities give to life there, and enjoy the cornucopia of opportunities available there.

"Sure. I'll walk it with ya."

The wonder of nature never escapes our attention, though.  We are especially fond of our visits to Lou Ann & Gerald “up nort” of Brainerd where you have to drive a twisty, dirt road for ¾ of a mile before reaching their hand-built log home nestled amidst a huge forest.  Lou and Gerald are surrounded by nature, and their home has been carefully built to complement it.  Birds and deer and even bear feed from the rough-hewn trough set comfortably away from the front of the house where the enjoyment of nature can be appreciated by both man and animal.

Lisa and I have always tried to incorporate nature into our own citified existence.  We’ve deployed feeders and other enticements to bring it near.  Our first effort was a messy disaster.  The wrong feeder attracts the wrong crowd, don’t ya know.  But we have learned, and we’re now making better choices with both the hardware and the feed.

On the day we first occupied the Minneapolis high-rise, we were mystified by the grey blur zipping along the railing of the deck.  This railing was both metal and about seventy feet from the ground.  Two or three spottings later, we speculated that we had a flying squirrel which was eventually dubbed “Rocky.”  Naturally.

"So I can't fly. But I'm cute."

It turned out that our Rocky was an ordinary female grey squirrel.  She had a seemingly extraordinary ability, though, to leap tall buildings at a single bound, or to climb the brick facing of the building’s exterior walls.  The latter turned out to be the case.  She climbed up the wall, and she slid down the six-inch wide poll connecting the decks — head first — all the way down to terra firma.  We never ceased to be amazed, and figured that any animal who made that kind of effort deserved to be rewarded with both snacks and refreshments.  Thus, our deck became the province of nature year ’round.

Other squirrels eventually found Rocky’s secret feeding spot, but she chased them off in most dramatic fashion.  Remember, this was a high-wire act without a net.  Rocky became so familiar with us that eating from our hands became a possibility, not that we encouraged it.  A wild animal is weakened if domesticated.

We added a feeder for our avian friends, and the food for them — and the nature-communing for us — was never ending.  Ironically, we did become the hitching post for a real flying squirrel who’d silently arrive in the dark of night, wrap itself around the feeder and load up for another busy day of waiting for another busy day.

From the living room window

We’ve been in North Carolina for eighteen months now.  Our humble abode was carefully selected based on several criteria, not the least of which was our closeness to nature.

"Hey, I belong here."

All manner of wildlife enjoy our presence here.  The state bird — the cardinal — is as beautiful as it is plentiful.  We have bluejays, pileated woodpeckers, mockingbirds, all kinds of colorful finches and other birds yet to be identified.  We have ground-feeders, too, including mourning doves, blackbirds and crows.

There are squirrels, of course, and we’ve discovered a midnight marauder — a raccoon — stretching high up from the ground to empty the feeder.

And we have chipmunks.  One of ours has a distinctly reddish-brown hind end, so we call it “Rusty Butt.”

"Me, too. I belong here, too. Yeah. Keep feeding me."

Chipmunks are hyperkinetic, and ours are no exception.  Rusty Butt, however, is particularly enterprising.  He’s figured out how to jump up to the feeder displacing however many birds there might be currently on it and without regard to their size.  Rusty Butt only knows that his occupancy of the feeder means cheeks full of food.  He then transfers the load to a secret hiding place and returns to scatter the birds yet again.

The moral of this story can only be that us humans are easily entertained.  Either that, or the animals have us humans well-trained.

2 Responses to "Rocky and Rusty Butt"

The admiration for and amusement of non-human creatures is a highlight of our marriage as well!
It adds a lighthearted dimension to everyday. 😉 VERY important.
Great photos!
Only problem after reading your post is… I am going to calling my boy dog Rusty Butt – just because it’s so fun to say. ;D

Well, you know I run the largest wildlife restaurant in Annapolis, so you know I share your joy. I have 9 raccoons, 3 foxes, 2 possums, and who knows how many squirrels. I am just grateful that my neighbors on both sides are not only supportive of my little habit, but have agreed years ago to contribute by feeding the birds and throwing out hotdogs and stale bread for the coons. We are all aware that domestic feeding of wildlife may be counterproductive to the animals, but we are also sensitive to the overbuilding of this area and the consequence to the animals’ food supplies. I know you enjoy your animals as much as I enjoy mine!

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