Look no strawberries, I think I have had enough of them for this week at least. Instead I want to introduce you to a little furry who graced our household with his delightful presence this week for a few precious hours.
On Tuesday evening Idgy called me outside to say there was a dreadful battle going on between the cats and a squirrel. I rushed out to find four cats in various stages of aging decrepitude led by the horrible spotty Minou advancing on a little grey squirrel cornered by the feed shed. There had obviously been a scuffle already as the squirrel was hurt but a game little guy who was determined to hold his own.
As we watched mesmerised, the brave squirrel let out a shriek and leaped full flight at minou who shot into the air like the proverbial scalded cat. Sadly this seemed to be his swan song as far as attacking went. He crouched on the grass and actually came towards me as I kneeled beside him and reached out a hand. I had no fear of a bite, I just knew it was the thing to do. He settled into my palm and I lifted him up and carefully took him away from the manic cats and into the kitchen.
Sometimes you just know when an animal has had enough. He had done his best but was up for no more battle. The animal shelters frown on his colour as he is not the sought after red squirrel but the dreaded grey vermin. To me his colour was of no consequence whatsoever. He needed some TLC in the vain hope that he might be able to pull through.
An old ferret cage was quiclkly pressed into service, but we found Sheldon (yes named by Idgy of course) could just curl up in a little blanket on your lap or potter about on the sofa. Sugary water in a pipette kept him going but we knew he wasn’t long for this world. Do you throw him outside and let the cats finish him off or wrap him in love for a few precious hours.
I think you know me well enough to know what we did.
Sitting up all night with sick animal is normal when you live out here in the country. I have sat with horses, sheep, cats, dogs, chickens, birds, pet rats and ferrets over the years. The species makes no difference. You just want to help, be there, care.
I stroked his soft fur and recalled a little girl many, many years ago who longed for a pet squirrel, just to touch one would have been a dream come true. She would feed them nuts in the gardens by the castle in Edinburgh and read stories of furry adventurers in fiction. In the 1960s there was even a squirrel on television to teach children how to cross the road safely. Then a squirrel was a squirrel and the hatred of the grey was not manifest as it is now. During the long night while memories flooded back I felt almost as if I had come full circle. Here I was a middle aged woman feeling love for this little creature I had always longed to hold and the little girl was right there with me.
Sheldon died in peace in the morning.
It has been a funny old week really, from strawberries to squirrels, laughter to tears and sunshine to rain.