Saturday, September 20, 2014

Watching George Watch Us - Dispatches from Maine

We have had a new neighbor this summer on True’s Point.  Actually he may have been here before but somehow he escaped our attention.  No longer; there is no way to miss him this year.  I am not speaking of someone residing in one of the handful of seasonal cottages here on the eastern shoreline of Sabbathday Lake.  I am talking about George, an Eastern chipmunk, who has taken up residence under our main deck with a series of nearby satellite burrows.  There are a lot of chipmunks around here, but George seems to have taken a particular interest in us.

We have another neighbor or visitor although we have never seen it and are not quite certain what it is; it will from time to time announce its presence with a night deposit of scat on the deck.  I’m quite certain that it is not George, but if it is, he needs some serious fiber . . . I’m talking major, serious fiber . . . in his regular diet of acorns and other edible detritus he is finding scattered around the cottage (the acorns have been falling for weeks and sound like gunfire when they hit the roof).  George will, however, leave partially chewed nuts and shell fragments on the deck for us to clean up.  I think he does it out of spite.  For the past couple of weeks we have had a small pumpkin sitting on our front stoop and I am surprised George hasn’t found it yet.  Then again, he would never be able to fit it into one of his cheek pouches which can expand to three times the size of his head.  Still, he continues to fill them to almost bursting as he stocks his larder for the coming winter when all of this will be under several inches of snow and ice for several months.  There he will sleep and eat until spring returns.

Chipmunks are constant neighbors and we are always hearing them clicking and  chattering with each other as they scamper about while going about their important business.  But George frequently takes time out of his busy schedule to tell us just what he thinks about us as neighbors.  I will often find him on the deck looking at us with disapproval as we go about our own business.  Until our arrival here in late June he had the whole place to himself and was not used to the clumping of human footsteps above his burrow.  We try to be good neighbors, but he will frequently get aggravated with us and will run off to a safe distance where he will go up on his hind legs and “chit . . . chit . . . chit” at us and let us know exactly what he thinks of this unacceptable situation.

Most of the time, however, we watch George as he power shops for his winter larder where he will cache his booty in his multi-chambered underground burrow and tunnel system accessed by a series of small holes I am finding everywhere around the cottage.  We will leave the lake in two weeks and George will once again have the place to himself.  I doubt he will miss us, but I will miss watching him watching us.

Check out the "Looking Toward Portugal" Facebook page for more information and photos.

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