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"Nature upon a Stage"
by David L. Davis - Spring '97

Bright yellow beams of light shot from the heavens, and danced upon the grassy ground as it glimmered through the moving branches semi-full with young green leaves, swaying in the gentle Spring morning breeze. The two 80-foot trees firmly planted in the backyard stood tall and strong parallel to the house, worshipping the Sun with their uplifted limbs, as Nature’s glory unfolded itself. Standing in total stillness I peered out of the kitchen window overwhelmed with wonderment, while I witness the squirrels interacting as if they were actors in a screen-play reviewing their scripts upon a stage.

In "ACT I", two gray squirrels with tiny palms grasping the bark of the tree on the left, glanced at one another... unaware of me. Near the top of the tree trunk one peered down at the other near the bottom with wide deep brown eyes. At first both clasped the tree motionless as if they were Grey-stone gargoyles guarding against an evil spirit, or as two lovers looking deeply into each others receiving eyes locked in a trance. Betrayed only by an occasional brief flicker of an eyelid or the motion of the breeze on their large fuzzy tails. Though time momentary stood halted for them, nature’s living forces continued. As the cycle of life moved on unconcerned, the surrounding grass gather water into its’ roots and light into its’ stems from the morning sun to feed upon, the insects enjoyed feasting on the fresh grass, and in turn the birds then feed upon the fat insects. Suddenly the squirrels leaped to action as they scrambled up, then down the tree, in a constant circling of the tree’s 3-foot wide trunk, seeking one another in a mad dog to cat, or boy to girl chase. For untold minutes they raced, taking turns in the chase, changing directions as they ran. Up into the main four limbs they scrambled as they pursued each other, hidden inside a sphere of leaves, as if ...only they existed within the known universe. Until exhausted and unable to maintain the demanding chase, a squirrel retreated to the tree’s foundation landing upon the grassy carpet below.

In "ACT II", the squirrel stood as a man on his hid legs that laid hidden under the moist grassy surface, turning his head with wide deep brown eyes he glanced in all directions, as a turret on a tank seeking out his enemy. Satisfied that no current dangers existed, he fell to all four feet sniffing the ground. Scanning the area within a twenty-foot radius around the tree with quick jerky movements as he ran, his fuzzy tail curled up then lashing out like a whip as he moved to each new spot. Soon the other squirrel also appeared from the tree and traveled the length of the trunk to the ground. In an well-orchestrated dance they alternated who stood watch, while the other buried their head into the grassy surface in search for food and water. At times it appeared as if they were praying while they ate, standing with their tiny palms held closely to their mouth. While both stood replenishing their bodies they watched unconcerned, as another squirrel from a neighbor’s yard joined in the food gathering, leaping from the wooden 5-foot fence that separated the yards. For minutes the three worked separately, not interfering with the other. Until yet another squirrel running from the neighbor’s yard on the left side, approached the nearest squirrel that stood between the two 80-foot trees. Stopping short for second, he staring for only a moment before jumping at the other’s back. Exchanges of leaps occur between the two a few more times, like a cat leaping at a surprised bird, until in the chaos all the squirrels vanished in a mad rush to the safely above within the tree limbs. Now with the stage empty of all the main actors, I withdrew from the window to nature, and continue my role within the grandeur stage called "Life!"