I've had a very persistent skwirrul who is cleaning out anything I put out earlier in the day. It was lean and diligent, and I eventually got irritated about how often it was showing up here -- until I noticed it was a young she with clear signs of nursing at her lower belly nipples. A first-time mother, then, trying to survive in the recently decimated woods next door. I realized I am the lifeline for her and those babies.
Well, then, I've been augmenting with pistachios, beans, peanut butter, in addition to cracked corn, sunflower seeds, and old ricecakes. Last night at 5:00 we set out an overripe banana for the possums, and damned if Mother S didn't venture back one last night in the near dark and down that entire banana. Potassium for her little ones, no doubt.
Pris the Pale (possum) shows up most nights, eats quickly and scrambles down to forage elsewhere, but Tate, less frequent, always loiters. Because the level of leftovers has gone up, we've also had irritating raids from Rambo the Raccoon. Night before last, Tate was esconsed in the birdfeeder metal tray when Rambo showed up, balanced himself on the iron fence railing, and began trying to shove Tate from his perch. Tate went wall-eyed, yawed wide his dentiferous maw, and refused to budge. Rambo violently shook the metal pole, and I thought for sure I'd see clumsy Tate once again hit the concrete like a fleshy meteor, but he managed to hang on.
Scoutie was beside herself in the window. When the night critters arrive, she will urgently swivel her head to fix on me the selfsame beckoning glance that little Lukas Haas leveled on Harrison Ford in the police station during Witness, before resuming her fur-tingling observation. Rambo eventually snaked his agile hand underneath Tate to steal a crust of bread and then vacated the premises. Tate trembled for a long while but kept that night's leftover pasta for his victorious self.
Things inside our house have taken another turn. Dinah is feeling well enough to scale a stack of storage bins near my bed, where from a lofty eight feet perch she can see into every room but is nearly invisible herself. This is typical Dinah, as she used to be. So far, Scoutie has not figured out an ascent path she feels confident of taking to the new territory. Although she clearly has out her kitteh theodolite, her bulk and lack of Dinah's antigrav boots keep her circling below in frustration: It would be a four-foot straight-up leap from a cluttered shelf below.
Once Scout's limit became clear, I began putting Dinah's wet food bowl up high with her, removing it from my surveillance with relief. This means she can stay out here with us at night. But of course, Dinah has to make this a not win-win situation. She is now refusing to eat her wet food at night, instead filling up on the (expensive, healthy, but very low-fat) W/D kibble instead and spurning the Weruva and Fancy Feast.
For the week, I'm letting her make her own choices. She visits me during the night for petting, clearly loves looking down on Scout, and (perversely) still tries to wake me early to refill a still-full bowl. Last week she held her own, neither gaining nor losing. But if she loses weight this week, I will start locking her up again to make her eat overnight. I also fear the destruction that will occur when Scoutie decides to just effin go for it and hurl herself toward Dinah's pinnacle.