Friday, March 27, 2009

Harlequin and the near-death experience

We are deep into spring here in Northern California, and the silver maple in our back yard is covered with its "fruit" - those cool seeds that look like little helicopters when they fall to the ground. Squirrels love them, and Boyfriend and I can spend hours watching the little buggers climb out to the ends of the most perilously thin twigs to get a mouthful.

Of course, we aren't the only ones who love watching squirrels. Harlequin, our backyard kitty, thinks they look absolutely delish. So it was really no surprise when we looked out the window this morning and saw two squirrels munching away in the tree - and Harlequin crouched on a limb trying to figure out how to get a bite herself.

Never has it been easier to read animals' minds.


Harlequin: Five feet away. Five feet away. How dare you! I have slain finches at greater distances. I have plucked hummingbirds out of thin air. I have pulled lizards from deep inside wood piles. I am going to eat you, you arrogant fuzzy bastard.

Read more...Squirrel 1 to Squirrel 2: Hey, check this out! That stupid cat thinks she can compete with us on our own tree. Ha!

Squirrel 2 to Squirrel 1: Awesome. Watch this...

Squirrel 2 jumps onto a tiny branch right over Harlequin's head, climbs out to the end and starts munching seeds, dropping the shells so that they float right past Harlequin's face on their way down to the lawn.

Harlequin crouches.

Harlequin: I am a coiled spring, you foolish rodent. I will leap and you will be dead before you finish chewing...

(To herself:) Oh shit. I am in a tree. Ten feet off the ground. This requires some careful planning.

Harlequin shifts into a more favorable leaping position.

Squirrel 2: Oh, I don't think so! (Boing.)

The squirrel leaps nimbly to another tiny branch overhead. Harlequin is now on the absolute worst limb for the pounce.

Harlequin: Mr. Squirrel, I am a CAT. I am nimble. Watch me as I simply slink down this limb and walk right up the limb that leads straight to you. See? Ha!

Squirrel 1 and 2 continue munching contentedly, clinging to the ends of tiny twigs that sway under their fat little yummy bodies.

Squirrel 1: Oh, Ms. Cat, are you still here? Funny, so am I (munch munch munch). Isn't it cool how I can walk out to the end of this twig and bouncy bouncy bounce while enjoying these delicious seeds?

If you weren't such a COW, I'd invite you up here to join me, but I do believe you'd break this twig and fall to the ground in a horrible mangled heap.

Harlequin: Oh, I do not need an invitation, my minsinformed little bucktoothed friend. I am a CAT. I eat what I want, when I want. And I am going to eat YOU.

She crouches, ready to spring. The squirrel leaps over her head to yet another seed-laden twig.

Harlequin (to herself): Drat!

I must face the truth: There is no way I can catch him. How can I possibly get out of this with dignity?

Harlequin glances toward the big clear sliding thing that the humans use to move between the house and the yard.

Harlequin: There they are! But, oh, the shame! The humiliation. Me, just feet from a delicious meal, impotent and powerless. Oh.... HELP! HELP!

Inside the house, the female speaks.

NorCal Cazadora: Man, she's gonna get hurt if she tries to pounce. I'm gonna help her out.

The female opens the door and walks onto the deck.

Harlequin: Oh look, stupid squirrels, my human wants me! Sorry, you insolent flea-ridden varmints, duty calls. I have to go. Bye-bye.

Harlequin leaps out of the tree and bounds joyfully into the open arms of the female, who scoops her up and takes her into the house.

Squirrel 1 to Squirrel 2: Oh thank God!

I was so full I didn't think I could eat another bite. Let's get the hell out of here.

Squirrel 1 leaps to a fence and starts running toward the back of the yard. Squirrel 2 is right behind him.

Inside the house, Harlequin watches anxiously.

Harlequin: Let me go! Let me go!

The female opens the door and lets Harlequin out. She bounds down the fenceline, just ten feet behind the speeding squirrels.

Harlequin to the disappearing squirrels: Boy are you lucky my human needed me. Do not EVER come back to my tree!

She turns back toward the humans.

Harlequin: Hey, I don't suppose you have any food?

© Holly A. Heyser 2009


Albert A Rasch said...


uhhhmm... giving the animals a little human characteristics? Silly human, don't you know that we cannot fathom the depths of their minds? They know that we know, that they... Well you know.

But more importantly, I noticed your new profile picture... ahhh, why is your mascara all over your cheeks and forehead?

Albert the Inquisitive
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
The Range Reviews: Tactical
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

And that's EXACTLY what those critters were saying, folks. I should know. I was there. And I heard them...


Great story!

Holly Heyser said...

Albert, I'll have you know I am fluent in both cat and squirrel, and I routinely provide translations to all who seek to understand the minds of our furry little friends. Just ask HAGC.

And the mascara is all over my forehead and cheeks because that particular shade of L'Oreal blends in really well with the marsh.

Anonymous said...

Ny coworker was JUST telling me this story and then I came here and read this - and I LAUGHED hysterically - I am sure that is precisely how my cats talk too - "quake in fear you tiny fools, I am CAT!"

Holly Heyser said...

Tempestt, Harlequin is quite offended that you think this was funny.

Albert A Rasch said...

Do you think they have something for my tanned olive complexion?

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
The Range Reviews: Tactical
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit

Holly Heyser said...

Of course, Albert! Stylish and hypoallergenic face camo is as close as your local CVS...

Julia said...

We don't have cats, only dogs. Unfortunatley, dogs sound more like the characters in "Deliverance." Dogs, while loyal, are not as wiley, nor as clever, as the feline. Laughed so hard...I nearly died from lack of oxygen. Julia

Holly Heyser said...

Julia, that is exactly what this scene needed. Some dog strolling lazily into the back yard, looking up into the tree and telling the cat, "You got a purty mouth..."

Blessed said...

OK, now I'm wiping the tears away - that was a great story. Thanks for the laugh... poor Harlequin, she missed out on her tasty squirrel dinner.

The squirrels in my yard have figured out that they can run back and forth on the rail above the dog kennel and drive Stetson and Drake crazy... that is when the human inside is wishing for a .22 in order to turn the offending squirrel into gumbo - but, we live in town so the squirrels get to live and the dogs go hoarse from barking.

Soraya Nelson said...

You should have lent Harlequinn your gun. Those squirrels MUST die!

Phillip said...

Step away from the absinthe, Holly. You too, Hank.

Holly Heyser said...

Soraya, you bloodthirsty little she-devil! Am I going to have to take you shooting when you come visit? I've got a great idea for what we could use as a target...

And Phillip, this was a true story! Just mind your own business and carry on with your Texas killing spree.

Native said...

Too, Too Funny!
I wonder if:
"Like the ancient Egyptians did with Cheetahs"
if you could teach Harlequin to hunt "For You"?

Holly Heyser said...

Well, Native, she was at it again this morning and given that we got no keepers on our striper fishing trip today, I was kinda hoping there'd at least be a gutted squirrel on the deck for us. No such luck - there she was begging for Fancy Feast.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think cats and squirrels and birds swear alot more than what you posted here. That's my opinion. ;-)

Like when the hawk flies down the canyon. Everybody is silent in front of him but but behind him they chirp and caw loudly.

There's anthropomorphising(sp?) and then there's learning catspeak. Methinks you're getting the catspeak down good.


SimplyOutdoors said...

I think my dog, and the squirrels in our backyard, have had this same conversation a few times. Okay, so maybe it was a bit different since he can't climb trees.

I'm sure their conversations went something like this:

Dog: I am going to continue jumping until I can climb this tree, and then I'll have you, you stupid trash eating squirrel.

Squirrel: Hey everyone, look at this stupid dog who just keeps jumping thinking he can get to us. What an idiot.

Or something like that.

Great story, Holly.

Holly Heyser said...

Simply, I'm so glad you understand!

native said...

Me thinks that she might need a partner in tandem,
Time for a kitten in training!

Mark Kautz said...

Hello fellow Northern Californian. Great story. I thought I had the only COW cat. My cats sit in the window and watch the squirrels outside. We have many since we live in the mountains outside Sacramento. Come see my "kids" on So many blogs, so little time.

oldfatslow said...

If only they would stick
to maple seeds, but the
dang tree rats in my yard
have been in my loquat.
The great equalizer is my
12 year old and his pellet

Here's hoping your cat wins
a few of these battles.