Lexica (lexica510) wrote,

Forget the early bird — early monkey FTW!

Saturday morning I resisted the siren song of the snooze button and got up earlyish and rode downtown with Pirate instead — he was working Outside Lands all weekend, so riding in together was one of our few chances to see each other when we were both awake. He headed to BART and I peeled off to Farley's for coffee and a donut (mmm, Pepples). After eating my donut and screwing the lid back on my travel mug (the latest entrant in the ongoing search for the perfect travel mug is the Klean Kanteen 16-ounce insulated) I headed for Lakeside Park, to my favorite tree beside Lake Merritt.

I climbed up in the tree and made myself comfortable with my coffee and a container of trail mix. The sun had burned through the overcast and it was a nice morning, so I hung out for a while drinking my coffee. After about 45 minutes, I heard a scritching on the branch behind my backpack. It was my little friend from before, the one we're calling Honey Brown*. I offered her some trail mix and she took a nut and retreated to the branch to eat it.

We hung out for some time as I offered her more trail mix and she accepted it. I can report that walnuts are favored for immediate eating, almonds and hazelnuts are preferred for carrying off and burying, and cashew bits and raisins are really not very interesting. At one point while she was off burying a nut, I put a handful of trail mix on my lap and waited to see if she'd come back. She did, and it didn't take her long to come get some more. To my delight, she stayed there to eat it... and then some more, and some more.

She ate the walnuts, turned up her nose at the cashews and raisins, then picked up a hazelnut and disappeared down the tree to bury it. I spent a while sitting there as she would come back, get a new nut, and head down the tree. Periodically she'd get distracted chasing off a gray squirrel that kept poking its nose in, trying to get some trail mix (and succeeding, any time Honey Brown would let it get close enough for me to give it a nut).

At one point I needed to shift positions and put a handful of trail mix on the branch in front of me instead of on my lap. After a bit I looked down to see that she was back and was eating some raisins.

Only... Wait, that's not the same squirrel. This one was a little bigger, a little broader in the nose, and had a callus or scar on the tip of its left ear.

And as I realized that, I heard a scritching from the branch above and behind me and felt OMG tiny paws!! on my shoulder, where Honey Brown had just appeared and was looking at me (and at the other squirrel) with an air of "so, more nuts, monkey?" Unlike the gray squirrel, she didn't seem (much) inclined to try to drive this new squirrel off, and they both ate the nuts and took some to bury. At first I thought that maybe Left Ear was Honey Brown's mother (she's a delicate, young-looking little creature, and I could easily believe she's less than a year old) but I finally caught a rear view and I'm pretty sure Left Ear is male. (Not as obviously OMG MALE as the male squirrel I saw chasing a female across campus one spring — how'd he climb trees with those things bouncing around behind him? — but still fairly clearly so.)

By the time I'd gone through my entire container of trail mix (probably a cup and a half) plus an extra mini-package I found in the bottom of my backpack, they were obviously fairly full. Honey Brown was climbing about in the branches of the next tree over, and when I looked up I realized that Left Ear had been hanging out on the branch over my head for at least five minutes.

He didn't seem alarmed when I stood up to get ready to leave and moved over to get a closer photo of him.

He wound up staying there, with an air of "I could move, if you gave me reason to, but—" *yawn* "—not going to if you don't", as I put my pack on and climbed back down the tree to ground level.

So, so cool. Definitely going to be spending more time up that tree. Yeah, this could get a bit costly in terms of increased trail mix consumption. I think it's worth it. *grin*

* Pirate and I had been up the same tree Monday after work when she came to see if we had any trail mix for her. We did, and at one point she came walking boldly up underneath his raised knee to get to the nuts. "Look at that!" Pirate whispered. "Little brown squirrel's a brave one!"

"Honey squirrel don't care," I replied, "honey squirrel don't give a shit." Only Pirate wasn't familiar with the meme and thought I meant it as a name. It didn't take long for it to turn into "Honey Brown".
Tags: animals, squirrels, the monkey, wildlife

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