It was time to come back from Mexico.
It wasn't because of the weather. The weather was wonderful. The nights up in the mountains were cool, and the days were warm, and sometimes, in the afternoons, a thunderstorm would roll in, and a refreshing rain would fall, leaving the air clean and sweet. No. It wasn't the weather.
And it wasn't really my family -- although, I do miss them. My parents have been in the thick of summer activities at their cabin by the lake. They had lots to do and lots of visitors, and I knew they were doing well. No. It wasn't my family.
The truth is, I heard some concerning news about Stubby, my mother's pet red squirrel, and I thought it was time I went to visit him to make sure everything was OK.
My mother reluctantly adopted Stubby after the tragic loss of half his tail last year. He went from her archenemy to her best friend, and now my mother feeds him every day. He spent the winter under their deck, digging tunnels through the snow to get to the treats my mother left under the bird feeder. He has become quite tame and is clearly devoted to my mother and so, naturally, every time I chat with my mom, I ask how Stubby is doing.
Apparently, Stubby got into some trouble.
According to my mother, their neighbor, Rod, painted his deck recently. I can picture Rod's deck. It is a cheerful blue and has bright yellow flowerpots and patio furniture on it. It's a beautiful deck, but keeping it that color requires a bit of upkeep. So I'm assuming that when there was no rain in the forecast, Rod got out there to paint the deck.
At this point, I would like to emphasize that there is no proof whatsoever of Stubby's guilt.
According to Rod, whose house is next door, his work was spoiled with little squirrel tracks all over his newly painted deck. Rod was not happy. He told his wife that he was going to get some squirrel traps and catch whoever ruined his paint job and deposit them far away.
Rod would never kill a red squirrel, but I can imagine he was pretty angry about the deck and would be willing to drive quite a long way to relocate whoever had left paw prints all over it.
Char, Rod's wife, was chatting with my mother last week, and she told Mom about Rod's plan.
"Oh, no!" my mother said. She told Char she wished Rod wouldn't do that, but she never heard back, and she hadn't seen Rod or Char since.
"I haven't seen Stubby all day," my mother wrote me. "Should I be worried?" And she signed her note, "Stubby's friend and protector."
And that was how the story was left.
There is a lot I don't know. First -- and most importantly -- there is no evidence that it was Stubby who ruined Rod's deck. Stubby is missing his tail, not a paw, and his tracks would look like any other red squirrel's -- including the very wicked squirrel who ran across that fresh blue paint.
And I never heard back from my mother. Surely, she would have called me in Mexico if Stubby had gone missing for more than 24 hours. So now I am planning a visit to check up on my mom and my dad -- and Stubby.
But I will tell you right now, if I happen to notice a slightly blueish tint on Stubby's feet, I do not plan to say a word.
Till next time,
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