Nate was hungry again.
This was not unusual as Nate was always hungry.
That he could put away so much food without exploding was both fascinating and repulsive at the same time.
“I’m Italian,” he often said. “My grandparents came over on a luxury liner from the Old Country. It’s a genetic thing, I’m pretty sure of it. You should see my cousins and uncles. I’m a light weight compared to them.”
Bob didn’t know about the whole “it’s genetic” thing. It seemed to be an excuse humans and other intelligent animals often used to explain bad habits. On the other hand, he was smarter than the bulk of the squirrel population as the offspring of genetically modified set of parents. Perhaps there was something to the whole “it’s genetic” thing but it was like a tasty tidbit that had soured. The type of thing that you knew, under normal circumstances, was an amazing bit of treasured food and yet, there was that off odor or color and you knew it wasn’t quite right and yet you had to try it to be sure.
That to him seemed to sum up that excuse… or statement… or observation.
Bob also knew that, so long as Nate was in scavenger mode, he had zero to slim chances of getting Macy’s hazelnuts home to her. He wouldn’t make it a step or two before Nate pounced on the delicate and tasty treats and toss them down without a second thought to savor or cherish them as they should be. Macy loved hazelnuts and he loved Macy, he needed to get these to her as she was probably the only creature alive for whom he would give up hazelnuts.
That meant Bob needed a plan and he needed one quick.
Since Nate would naturally eat anything, the question became how could he divert his attention for the handful of minutes he needed to make it across the yard and up the tree trunk?
“How’s it going?” He looked up from pecking at the boards on Diana’s deck to see if maybe there was an old bit of something stuck there. “Do you think Diana left something, anything out? I can smell something but can’t quite find or place it. Maybe it’s from breakfast yesterday. I keep checking but… well, I can’t find anything.”
“Not that I’ve been able to see, but I heard a rumor the house on the corner restocked their bird feeder from one of the dogs walking by earlier.”
Nate patted his distended belly under his black feathers. “Found it already.”
“Did you check the yogurt place down the block?”
“I haven’t been there all summer. A flock of aggressive starlings moved into the ivy on the wall over on the side of the bank. Alone a starling’s not too bad but a flock…” his voice trailed off as he shuddered. “A pack will peck you like no one’s business. It doesn’t matter how hungry I am, I’m not crossing into starling territory.”
Bob tried to think but all he could think of was Macy’s soft fur and the little white tufts behind her ears. It was adorable how she sat on her haunches and moved her froth paws in time to whatever Diana was listening to when she was out on the deck. If he didn’t know better, he would have sworn there were some genetic modification in Macy to as she didn’t act like other squirrels. She was smarter.
“It was trash day yesterday, so no compost pails today,” Nate’s sad statement cut through Bob’s day dream.
“That’s it!” Bob jumped up and ran up along the gutters to the front corner of the house’s roof. He scanned the street and spied something as Nate landed gracefully next to him. Bob was always surprised at how, in spite of his size, Nate could elegantly lift off and land. One would think a bird that size would struggle over his leaner counter parts.
“Look,” Bob pointed up the street. “They put their stuff out late yesterday and they’re waiting for the second chance truck. I bet their compost bin is still out too. If not, I’ve heard chatter that the berry bushes have taken over and are still producing some late raspberries. They’re too sour for the humans there, but they should be just about right for you.”
“Bob you’re a genius, but you knew that all ready. Thanks buddy. I’ll catch up with you later.”
“Better later than sooner, Macy’s waiting for me.” He gave Nate a wink.
“Gotcha. I’m off.”
He lifted off again and circled overhead once before flying up the hill. Bob waited until Nate was on his way and wasted no time scurrying back to the deck. He opened the little box Diana had started to use to hide special treats for him and he was rewarded with a bag of hazelnuts. Carefully taking the bag in his mouth, he ran across the yard reaching the old oak tree in no time. Quickly climbing up the trunk to his den, he entered just as Macy was starting to stir. He dropped the nuts by her and smiled.
“Breakfast, my dear, is served.”