He lived in a huge willow oak in a small town near a university campus. Traffic passed by his tree daily as students went busily about their scheduled classes. The big willow oak was the biggest tree in the little town its limbs stretching out far into the yard and onto the street. Earl could sit on the telephone post at the edge of his yard and enjoy the traffic without getting too close. He had seen many of his family succumb to the passing cars and trucks. He was wise for his short life and was not about to make the same mistake although it was barrels of fun to run along the power lines. Just knowing that few could do it made it even more exhilarating.
There was an old man and his wife who lived in the house beneath the limbs of the Willow Oak. They had lived there for many decades their children had married and moved away. Now the old man Moses Mills enjoyed watching the birds, and squirrels come down the trees to play. He decided to put a bird bathe of sorts beneath the trees to feed the hungry little ones and make sure they had plenty of fresh water to drink.
Many of the streams were long gone due to the construction in the area so water was not found in many places. Moses sat near his garage door and watched the critters every day. The birds made nest in an old desk inside the garage and came to be very comfortable around Moses. So comfortable were they, that they made their nest in the drawers and came in and out without a care.
Now it happened one day that a new feline appeared along the property and sat watching the busy life around him. He was as black as the midnight with eyes the color of green marbles. He would lie in the grass whipping his tail now and then to keep the bugs away. The sun was warm upon his dark furry coat and it was glossy with shine. He had moved to the area and was quite unfamiliar with the territory. He was familiar with catching field mice and baby squirrels much to everyone’s displeasure. Shiva was named by his owner who spent a few years of his life in the country of India. Unlike most people in India, his owner was not so superstitious and was very fond of Shiva. It seems in India cats are bad luck and if a cat crosses your path something terrible will happen to you. The name Shiva meant “god of destruction!”
You see most of the people who lived near Earl kept their cats inside and fed them food from the store. Cats really had no need to go outside and scout for food. Not so with Shiva who was a natural predator and destroyer of all his enemies. He was lord of all and he was about to make a grand entrance in the quiet neighborhood.
All animals big or small have a natural instinct to look for food or to be curious about things they are not familiar with. Shiva had already taken over his house as most cats do and now he was interested in new things.
Earl was not blind to the newcomer and he notified all the squirrels quickly with his series of chirps. Every precaution had to be taken to ensure the survival of all the little ones who had not yet learned of the vicious nature of the CAT!
Cats are a very private animal choosing to remain solitary to some degree. They also have a very selfish nature when it comes to eating.They are not pack animals by nature and, therefore, there is no pressure for them to obey the will of others. Cats are very proud and like to rule their own lives. Most of the time cats will do only what they want to do and not what others would like for them to do. So it was with Shiva.
Earl was a common gray tree squirrel with the brain size of a walnut. Of course he didn’t ever consider this to be a problem. Size was not anything to be concerned about unless it was a cat. Then he quickly changed his mind. Most of the females had given birth to their little ones in the Spring. The babies weighed about an ounce and were about an inch long. They had no hair and could not yet see. It was the job of those like Earl to be sure nothing harmed the little ones and to provide lots of food for them.
Most of the squirrels around Moses house were very quiet and neat rodents. Earl however was very fastidious about his looks. He spend hours every day just to be sure he was the most handsome of all. Now having seen Shiva, he began to sweat profusely. He has just cleaned the foot pads on his feet and between his toes. Now they had begun to leave wet footprints everywhere. This was not good for Earl for he liked to keep his presence low key. “Battle Stations!” Chirped Earl sounding the alarm, his tail moving in all sorts of directions. “Ladies cover the babies and make sure everyone accounted for!”
The day had taken a turn for the worst. The peace and quiet was no more for the enemy was marching full speed ahead. All the squirrels heads popped up from their nest. They had been taking an afternoon nap and rubbed their sleepy eyes to see what all the commotion was all about.
“Oh my goodness everyone take cover:! The limbs were alive with furry creatures scampering this way and that. “Don’t go down the trees now and keep the chattering to a minimum!” Earl cautioned.
Now Mr. Moses was not a friend of cats and didn’t like them around his house. He had one once that lived in the garage and it made such a stinky mess he vowed never to have another one.
“Get out of here you hairy varmint” He yelled to the top of his voice. Picking up a broom from the corner of the garage he swung it in the direction of Shiva. The squirrels watched nervously. Shiva saw the awful broom and remembered it well from previous landowners. He wanted no part of the broom. “Just leave that thing for the witches.” He purred as he made his escape back into the tall weeds. “Tomorrow is another day and I’m in no mood for a fight. It is too pretty outside and I’ll just kick back in the sunshine. Those rodents will be there when I get hungry!” He rolled himself over and over in the dried grass flipping his huge tail to and fro.
“Whew! “Everyone just settle down for now. The cat has gone back in the weeds. If it had not been for Mr. Moses we might be in a war right now. We need to show our appreciation to our protector. Any ideas?” He asked.
“Nuts! We all have a stash of pecans. How about we all get a few and put near Moses chair. He loves them about as much as we do.” A voice rung out.
So it came to be that all the squirrels emptied their nest of the best nuts they had hidden and placed them carefully next to Moses chair. They had been saved and their appreciation was abounding.
Now if you see a gray squirrel running down the power line at top speed doing the most breathtaking acrobatics imaginable, it will most likely be Earl the squirrel or one of his children for they all learned quickly how to run the power lines just like their ole man. The little university town is quiet again and all is well in the big Willow Oak tree.
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved.
Question: Who was Shiva?