As I open the back screen door leading to the garden a small frantic figure rushes by me, missing my toes by a nanospace. I stop, he stops. We look at each other, I the human and he the chipmunk.
Then he continues on his mission, to find a hiding place behind the ornamental grasses behind our koi pond.
In his brief look at me I can read his little rodent mind.
“These humans think they own the planet.”
My human mind thinks; chipmunks are pests who ruin gardens. They munch on my new Dinner Plate Dahlia buds just as the flowers prepare for their glorious summer display. They take bites of tomatoes the moment the fruit is bright juicy red. Not the whole tomato; just a sample, taking enough small nibbles to ruin it. Then they move on to another perfect tomato only to repeat their destructive behavior. And they dig holes in the lawn. Not just an occasional hole, but holes all over the yard.
I want to hate them. But as destructive as they are I am charmed by their antics. Although chipmunks are garden troublemakers they are adorable, funny and playful.
I watch two of them playing tag, racing over the grounds with the glee of small children. The first one pops into a pre-dug hole, to pop out of another, surprising his chipmunk friend. His buddy leaps up on the rocks, looks at his playmate, and disappears into his own pre-dug hole. This game of tag continues long after I have time to watch it. They are having a marvelous time on their turf.
How important are a couple of flowers, a few Jersey tomatoes and some holes in the ground? Would I trade them for the opportunity to see live Cirque de Soleil performances in my own back yard? Would I deny the smiles those funny little animals bring me on New Jersey’s hot, humid days?
Just try me.
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