“Now maybe it’s just me, but college was very confusing times.” —Forrest Gump
These are some confusing times too. While people are finally beginning to stand up for their right to party too, Thomas T. has had to re-think his world as well. His partner in crime, the long-standing oak tree in the backyard, is no longer standing. For years it’s been both the bait on the string and the box tipped up by a stick, happily trapping many-a squirrel for Thomas to bark at for hours on end. My dad cut the tree down this summer, mainly, I think because he was bored. Chain-saws cure boredom. It’s a fact. Look up ‘cures for boredom’ in wikipedia’s discussion page. While the absence of the tree has opened the backyard up to the sky and sunlight, it’s closed Thomas’ dream of squirrels leaping into his gaping jaws from the branches above. Of course there are plenty of other trees for thomas to tree squirrels in, but it just isn’t the same.
This was a special tree. This was the tree that Thomas would run to and start barking at, no matter what, even if the squirrel ran the opposite direction. If Thomas was sleeping in the garage and you were downstairs and make any loudish noise that might have sounded like a door opening, Thomas would sprint out of his dog door straight to the base of the tree and start barking at it, just assuming that there is a squirrel in it. Thomas learned this ritual after months of conditioning. I’d yell squirrel and open the backdoor for him to chase it. 99% of the time he failed. But a couple times (meaning he’s chased 100’s of squirrels) he caught them. And a few other times they even leapt into his mouth from the oak tree after hours of being treed. The few times he’s caught squirrels from the tree have engraved themselves into his brain as being more succesful than reality, so even when he’d see the squirrel escape into the blackberry bushes he’d return to the empty oak tree and bark up at it for hours.
Now there’s no tree for him to bark at, but the empty void in the sky and the stump in the ground seem to occupy a large space in his mind. He’s even made it his new spot to lie and chew on toys while he thinks about life. He spends a lot of time sniffing around the area, searching for squirrels.
Speak of the devil. Just now I spotted a squirrel approach the stump of the oak tree looking for a trunk to climb. I yelled squirrel. Thomas, who was in the garage, sprinted out and treed it in different tree. Standing at the base of that tree, he’s facing the opposite direction barking towards the empty space that the old oak tree used to occupy. Habits die hard.
But where one dream is cut down, another will take its place. An hour ago Thomas spotted a low-flying great blue heron soaring right above the oak stump. Thomas took off barking at it, trying to sing it down out of the sky like a squirrel from a tree. This time the heron got away, but Thomas, you keep dreaming. 99% of those herons and squirrels will get away, but it’s that 1% you’re after. That greedy 1% that eats too many fish, hoards too many nuts in its mouth, thinks it’s above the laws of physics, and plops out of the sky right into your mouth.
The good old days.