The mama chipmunk didn’t know what in the heck to do. She had come around the corner of the house with her kid, and suddenly there was a dog between them and the only two trees they could reach.
It was early morning at the cabin when I saw her make the decision that separated her from her tiny brown baby. The dog was in the yard doing what dogs do, and by the time mama chirped “Run! Quick! To the tree!” to the baby, the dog had seen them both. Most of the time, Lilly ignores the chipmunks at the cabin. She isn’t much of a hunter, and even if she was, trying to chase a chipmunk while tethered to a tree is pretty futile. Unfortunately, the baby had climbed a tree well within beagle-range and the mama was frantic. She chirped. The dog snuffled at the base of the tree. The baby circled the trunk looking for mom. I called to the dog and put her back in the porch. The chipmunk crisis was averted.
Later in the day, a pair of adult loons on the river began their panicked tremolo call when a boat full of curious fishermen came too close. The male dove beneath the water and surfaced several yards away. Then the female did the same, leaving their black puff-ball baby bobbing and tweeting in the bull rushes alone. They cried out and flapped their great wings as the river churned around them. Suddenly, a large bald eagle swooped down upon the trio in an attempt to snatch the baby. Luckily, for the loons, the eagle’s talons came up empty. A second attempt was no more successful and finally, the predatory bird gave up and moved on.
It’s tough to be the parent of a small and helpless creature. Whether we are covered in fur, or feathers, or just skin, we know this. We do our best to keep them safe. Sometimes, we can. Sometimes, we can’t.
I am spending a lot of time at the cabin this month. We have internet, but no cable television which means no cable news. This is a very good thing. I highly recommend this way of life. Besides, if I want to understand the news of families separated, all I need to do is look up in the tree where the chipmunks have found each other or out to the river, where life for a family of loons has resumed.
I watch the beagle at the end of a leash that keeps her from causing too much mayhem in lives of other living creatures.
And I scan the tree line across the lake for signs of the eagle, too.