Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Mission impossible: Squirrel edition

It was a lovely morning in Contrary Towers.

Really lovely. One of those days when I stand on the balcony looking at Canary Wharf as it sulks in the morning mist and yet, I feel nothing but warmth. As I tweeted earlier...

I love it here, truly, truly, love it.

And I do. I'd also been industrious, as the kettle was boiling to make tea for both me and the capricious one, I was cleaning the hob with one hand, whilst eating breakfast (and tweeting) with the other, true multi-tasking. I had to clean the hob, it's the kitchen fairy's day off.


Tea delivered and hob shining I went to dream on the balcony for a while and enjoy the holiday feel that has still not gone away. Astonishing. Also astonishing was the wildlife. They really were out in force this morning...

First we had the duck family, they have a large raft of ducklings, maybe as many as ten, but tricky to tell from high in our lair. Especially as I'm getting increasingly fuzzy sight. Which is good because otherwise I'd realise how old I'm looking.

Next up a swan. But not on its own. The swan had an escort of ducks, one either side, one behind, and one ahead clearing the canal of any troublesome coots. Think police outriders and you won't be far wrong. It was that or they were part of duck security and escorting the swan off the river, they can be troublesome.

And we can't even eat them!

Even Percy the Parsley plant was looking particularly chirpy. Well. As chirpy as a plant can look.

As the swan evaded the security detail my flatmate stumbled sleepily in to the sun. She'd seen tell of cuteness on my timeline so wanted to come and see. They were still at it.

Magpies scrapping in trees. Coots being harassed by the swan. Gulls flying by in the bitter hope of passing bread missiles. The world, generally, was as it should be...

...Until that is, a squirrel was spotted bounding by the railings of Limehouse Cut. "Oooh", we oohed. "Squirrel", we pointlessly pointed out.

Cue the music to Mission Impossible...

In a single bound Eating Nuts scampered over the wall, landing gently on the two path, quickly he checked for approaching cyclists, joggers or swans before rushing to the edge of the canal wall and looking at the surface below.

Without the need for ropes he shot down the wall without a moments hesitation straight in to the murky water below and certain doom...

We both squeaked.

Really. Hand to mouth actual squeaking, my flatmate grabbed my arm as, let's face it, we both thought we knew what was going to happen next. This was not a good way to start the day. Drowned squirrel is, well, not cute.

Eating Nuts swam for a little bit... Oh. Before turning around and scampering back up the canal wall. Eh? We were stunned. He'd gone for a little swim. I'd been talking with my flatmate's mother the other evening and we'd talked about going for a dip in the canal to cool off. Which would be dangerous, she rightly pointed out, owing to the risk of Weil's disease, which, of course, comes from rats widdling in water.

But squirrels?

Eating Nuts then decided to show us how hard he was, he ran in to the middle of the road and scampered along defying any of the local ne'er do wells to run him down. As squirrels go he was out of control. We eventually lost sight of him as he slipped in to a bush and took a well earned rest.

Which brings us to the serious point.

We were trying to work out what on earth made out brave hero do something like this. Sure, he could have been going for a little early morning swim, but that feels unlikely. He may even have thought the surface looked solid enough to walk over to Silver Wharf, after all the canal cleaning boat hadn't been along yet. But in the end we decided he was probably just thirsty and desperate.

A tempting large body of water and a thirsty squirrel.

If it had been a dog or cat or psychopathic chicken killer (though I believe in town they are referred to as cute lovely foxy woxy) it would have been last thing they did as, let's face it, the Limehouse Cut has very steep sides and a good drop to the water. With no escape. Unless, like our hero, Eating Nuts, and rats, you can scale vertical, concrete, walls from a watery floating start.

So, maybe, what we need is the mammal equivalent of toad tunnels, a means for them to get down to the water to drink without the risk of possible death. As I write I've suddenly remembered something I saw a few weeks back, a cat, obviously dead, floating slowly, and rather sadly, down the canal. At the time I'd pondered about it having been hit by a car and dumped. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder whether, actually, it had simply been both thirsty and unlucky.

And as for the squirrel? I'm glad we both saw it as neither would have believed the other if we hadn't!

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