More Furry FriendsPosted on: April 11, 2010
by Deborah in the UP
Of all my woodland friends, furred and feathered, my very favorite was Henry.. The Chipmunk.
One warm summer day, as I sat in a chair on the porch, reading (one of my favorite things to do), I heard this quiet bump, bump, bump, across the porch decking. Mindful to not make any sudden movements, I darted my eyes in that direction. Here came a chipmunk. It nosed around near my feet, around the chair, by the steps, then sat off to the side to groom. After a short while, he left, and I had an idea. Since it seemed he wasn’t afraid of me, I wondered if I could get him closer. So I went inside and filled my pocket with some of the sunflower seeds I fed to the birds, and left him a small offering where he had been sitting to groom. Within five minutes he was back, and quickly packed his pouches with the seed, and left again…..so I put some more down. We did this several times when I ran out of seeds in my pocket. His next trip to the porch, he nosed around and not finding any offerings, looked over at me, and climbed up on my foot! I got more seeds and put them in my pocket, and he actually climbed into my pocket for his treats! I had a new friend.
Over the course of the next few days, I would sit waiting for Henry to arrive. By that time, I had filled a pint canning jar with seeds so I wouldn’t run out, and like I shook the scoop of corn to signal Sara the deer, I would shake the jar to attract Henry’s attention. I sometimes think he waited nearby for me, as he would be by my side within moments, looking for his usual handout. It took less than a week to get Henry to sit in my hand to collect his seeds, and he never flinched when I stroked his soft fur, very gently with one finger. Eventually, Henry would sit on my shoulder to groom, or on my lap, or on my book. Sometimes I would just leave the jar open by my side, and he would climb in, fill his pouches and hop back out. I usually left the jar sitting outside by the door, for my convenience, with the lid on of course. More than once, I could hear the jar being rolled around on the porch, Henry trying to get to the seeds inside.
I did notice other chippies showing up for seeds, but none with Henry’s distinctive scar on his left hindquarter. They all ended up with quite a winter food stash somewhere!
One afternoon, Muffin the Cat sat with me, her sunning, me reading, when Henry showed up. He stopped short, and very cautiously crept forward, checking out this new addition to our ritual. Oblivious as usual, Muffin paid no attention to this little critter, and Henry, obviously feeling no threat, hopped over her tail, to get to the jar of sunflower seeds.
With that scar as a name tag, I knew it was Henry that showed up year after year. For four years I watched him actually grow grayer and grayer, until one spring, he didn’t come back. Animals age just like we do, and like us, they leave this earthly plain.