Pitter Patter of Little Feet 11/7/19

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

This is a top floor apartment. Suffice it to say, I was rather surprised the first time I heard the pitter patter of little feet coming from above.

I really doubt there is somebody living in the crawl space, and besides, the sound is too cute to be human. Yes, human babies are very cute, but I suspect these are the cute little feet of a squirrel.

I love squirrels. Some people think I’m crazy, but they’re just so cute. They’re also amazing acrobats, and frantic little critters. Listening to them run drives home just how frantic they really are. The speed with which their feet hit the roof is just incredible. If their legs were more than a few inches long, they’d really be cooking. I assume that they are hiding their treasures because they always seem to be heading in the same general direction, and about as far each time.

It’s my understanding that most squirrels are not indigenous to the US. Presumably, sometime in the mid nineteenth century (as I recall) they were brought from Europe as pets. They are quite intelligent little folks, and apparently not only escaped (or were released), but also thrived.

They’re not the only visitors to outstay their work visas. I’m told that, for a while anyway, parakeets were a huge problem in New York City. They would get loose, and meet their little buddies in Central Park, where they would engage in premarital sin and suddenly the park was overrun with little birdies wanting a cracker.

I love salteen crackers.

Anyway, my sister was given a parakeet when she was a senior in high school, back in 1872. Don’t worry; she doesn’t read my blogs. My mother loved reading and birds, so of course she read about parakeets. She read about parakeets escaping. One day, she sees a golden finch in the tree out back. Apparently, they were moving into the neighborhood because I don’t believe we’d seen them before, but regardless, mom certainly didn’t realize it was a wild bird. So out mom goes, in her night gown, holding her finger up trying to entice this little wild bird onto her finger, “it’s okay, it’s okay, c’mere…come on…” The bird just looked at her like she was nuts. And not the food kind of nuts either. When the mate showed up she caught on that these were wild birds.

I must have inherited my love for birds from my mother. They’re not very popular, but I do love sparrows. Those tiny little athletic birds are amazing to watch. They must fly around mach 4, and when they fly through a chain link fence they don’t flinch or slow down. I can’t even see them pull their wings in, but they must, because there aren’t little severed bird wings near fences. They just know when to pull their wings in so they can glide without problem. If they pull the wings in too soon, they’ll lose altitude, so they must know exactly the right time to do it. It’s amazing.

Not all visitors are so cute. I remember when I was young, and ladybugs were so sweet and innocent. They were bright red, and there was never any fear of having them crawl on your fingers or hand. The worst thing about them is the way they smelled. That was their natural defense; they smell bad and, apparently, taste worse, so anything that eats one will never want to eat a second.

I’m told that humans smell bad as well. We don’t notice it, except during game conventions when certain participants seem to believe that personal hygiene and deodorant is optional, but I guess we smell bad to animals.

Weird, huh?

But back to ladybugs. Apparently, they imported Asian bugs, relatives of lady bugs, to help deal with some kind of pest. They’re more of a dirty orange, sleeker, and yes, they do bite. Well, not really. I’m told they actually spit some kind of irritant that burns and feels like a bite, but same thing. The theory was that they couldn’t mate with their American cousin ladybugs because they’re too genetically different. So, bringing in a few, too few to really propagate, and they’ll die off the first winter. But, like most government operations, they were wrong. Turns out, these little beasts could breed with American ladybugs, and did. Now, those Asian bugs are everywhere, less bright and infinitely more evil, while true red gentle sweet ladybugs are just, well, they’re disappearing.

Now, for anybody still reading this rambling nonsensical post, here is the moral of the story. Real chili does not have beans cooked in it.

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