A few nights ago I dreamed about a Great Horned Owl that lifted its wings and, before my eyes, transformed into a Barred Owl before flying away from me. When I awoke, I decided that, if I believed in such things, this would no doubt have been a powerful omen. I mean an owl and a transformation: either someone was going to die or I was going to be visited by a god (Athena, maybe?). Being a sensible realist, however, I decided that I was probably just thinking too much about birdwatching.
Omens aside, this morning was strange. While I was eating breakfast, I heard a harsh yelp from the deck where my younger dog was surveying the property. It was an unusual sound for her, but my husband recognized it as fear and jumped to see what was happening. Following him through the door, I noticed my dog’s flattened ears, tucked tail, and shifty lip-licking, just as my husband exclaimed, “Wait! What is that? Did she get something?”
He pointed to a puff of gray fur balanced between two slats of the deck’s railing. When I looked more closely, it was quite clearly the last three inches of a squirrel’s tail.
“Yeah, she got something,” I said. “Or at least part of it.”
We ventured a few “good girls” to reassure our dog, who’s been tentative to the point of fear about hunting since our lackluster response to a rabbit kill. The poor, neurotic thing was so anxiously thrilled that she snapped up and gulped down the bit of fur before we could do anything about it.
I can only suppose that the stupid squirrel was on our deck and caught by the tail just as it jumped through the narrow slats to escape, and now I’m waiting to see a stub-tailed squirrel around the neighborhood, chastened but alive. He belongs in a story, like Roald Dahl’s fantastic Mr. Fox.
While I did not see the squirrel again on my morning walk with the dogs, I did find a pair of perfectly good but soaking wet socks. They were on the path by the river, accompanied by a half-full water bottle. I stuffed both in my bag of trash without taking a picture, although I did photograph one of the many slugs clinging to the tall, wet weeds by the trail.
Owls, squirrels tails, and slugs? Add the wet socks, and you have a modern potions recipe.