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Fall Squirrel
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Last week I had to clean frost off the car's windshield for the first time this autumn. As I listened to the squeak of the plastic scraper over the glass, as distinctive and resonant with cold as the sound of a Salvation Army bell, I was already counting the days until April. 153.

I peered into the trees in front of the house until I spotted a gray squirrel. There's nearly always a squirrel up in the branches somewhere if you look hard enough.

This one was performing the usual death defying leaps. He raced along a maple branch to the needle end of the furthermost twig, flung himself through the air, landed deftly and scampered up a neighboring pine bough even as the limb bent bent dangerously earthward. Darting in and out of view through the remaining orange leaves, The squirrel seemed as comfortable up in the air as I would be walking across the yard. Squirrels haven't discovered gravity yet.

Even from the distant ground I could tell that the squirrel was small. Not an adult. That means he was from the second, summer litter, that gray squirrels often bear. He already knew how to play in the tree tops but could he forage for food?

I tossed the scraper back into the car and slapped ice dust off my gloved hands. I'm not sure why squirrels should have to venture from their nests for the first time so near to the end of the warm season. Nature does not always seem well organized. I wouldn't like to be a young squirrel with winter coming on.

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