by Karen A. Hood (aka serenity)
My father is a gentle man, with an odd sense of humor. He takes his time to play his pranks, and crafts his work, most patiently. It can be seen behind his eyes, if one would know the signs to seek. A humor glazes across his eyes as he pretends to hear you speak.
And all the while, he's crafting wiles, with a secret smile on face. And if, and when he chooses speech? You learn to listen carefully. My father is a special man-a man who loves to torment squirrels. So now, herein, lays a bushy tale - as told to me, by my mom. And I promise? Dad would deny every word.
We worried when he retired. We were unsure if there was enough at home to keep him amused. After watching him take to his garden with gusto, we breathed a sigh of relief. But now, after hearing this story, I fear he may be going a little "nuts."
Dad likes his coffee, and cigarettes, neither of which is on his diet. So he wakes before my mother does (which is not hard to do) and partakes of both, and sits outside to watch the dew diminish in the rising sun. His yard is just a kingdom of palm and flowers misconstrued. Plantings here and there, obscure---all looking quite at home. It's paradise.
I asked him once, about marigolds
"How do you make them grow do big?" He grinned at me and stomped his foot upon the plant we gazed upon. "That's what I do
" and he giggled. (It is a lovely thing to hear a grown man giggle.) But then he furthermore explained, about how much stronger a planting grows from strain
and how with every healed sinew, a new strength is created-and how every new wound survived creates a bigger bloom's surprise. My father knows of what he speaks. He's cheated death repeatedly.
But on this morning he was at rest. His coffee brewed and steaming, and his cigarette in curl of his beloved smoke, in his own hand-carved ashtray. He sat, and listened to a morning song, the wrens, and robins, all of the birdsong. And then he heard annoying scurry. A squirrel - a RAT with a tail too furry -scurrying now across the fence, across the planks of redwood and then so brave as to cross the street to capture a nut from the neighbor's pecan tree. Then my father watched him scurry back to his nest in the pine, stockpiling to ward off lack. And then again, the squirrel was brave. He dared to go again and save another nut yet from the tree. My dad watched and waited patiently.
He watched this squirrel run back and forth. In total greed with no remorse - from pine, to fence to street to tree, and back again, becoming bolder with each foray. Finally Dad could take no more. He watched the squirrel with one nut more, crossing yet again his sacred fence; and no more could he put off the suspense. My quiet dad stood up and yelled
."BWAHAHAHA!" ---the poor squirrel was so startled that he fell from the fence, and dropped the pecan as he fell.
My daddy smiled-and stole the pecan.
And? It is with my father's grin and much fondness that I state: "The fruit does not fall far from the tree."
(A true story, no matter WHAT he says, written with much love to Dad - from "squirrel number "five.")