One of the things I hated to give up in the relocation was the view from my desk onto our back porch and yard, which provided a reliable tableau of bloggable wildlife action. My new setup has the window at my back, and it looks out on the front driveway, a much less attractive setting for observations of nature.
So, I was as surprised as my neighbors to find myself lying on my side in the driveway yesterday around noon, long lens on the camera pointed to the undercarriage of my wife's SUV. The reason was that I had glanced out the window just in time to see one of those wily ground squirrels run under her car. That in itself wouldn't warrant anything more than a couple of additional glances, but the squirrel piqued my curiosity by displaying his own. He stood on his hind legs and peered at the underside of the car, as if inspecting it for defects. He moved down the length of the vehicle, repeating this behavior, and then he climbed inside the rim of the left rear wheel. That's when my own inquisitive nature took over and I grabbed my camera.
I approached as stealthily as I knew how, and eased myself onto the concrete. However, the squirrel was nowhere to be seen. I circled the car and seeing no reaction, I finally slid under it to inspect the wheel well (half expecting to be ambushed from above by a rabies-crazed varmint who'd been plotting this moment for weeks). Nothing. Nada. Zip.
I assumed he'd slipped away, blocked from my view by the car itself, so I returned to the house. As I put my camera back in the bag, I glanced out the window again, just in time to see him unfurl himself from under the car and drop to the driveway, not unlike the creatures in Alien, only hairier and less slimy. So, he'd been hiding somewhere up there all along.
At that point, my wife walked out the front door to head back to the office, and instead of doing the expected and natural thing - running away - the ground squirrel leaped back onto the frame of the car! I told her what was going on, and we agreed that she'd pull slowly out of the drive, while I waited, camera in hand, for what I was sure would be a dramatic squirrel evacuation (unaccompanied, we hoped, a gooshy squirrel flattening). It never came. That little fella remained hidden somewhere under the SUV as she drove out of sight.
I'm sure that Claydesta has a sufficiently profuse population of ground squirrels that one more won't make a difference, and I hope that the unauthorized passenger had the good sense to vacate the undercarriage upon arrival at my wife's office. The last thing we need is one of those guys playing the role of gremlin under our car, chewing on wiring and what-not. Or worse, hitching a ride into our garage and setting up shop where the potential for damage is even greater.
The upside to the situation is that I apparently didn't lose as much in the move as I feared, from the perspective of getting a view of the natural world outside my window.