Ah, how the lovely fall season has come upon us. Here in Ratlanta the leaves have begun to trade their shades of summer green for the beautiful hues of red, orange, yellow, and a myriad of other colorful combinations. Many have started falling from the trees, providing a nice crunchy substance with which I might build my nestlet.
With this change of seasons also comes an annual tradition of my human family: camping in the backwoods of Georgia’s marvelous state parks. This year’s trip took them to the beautiful High Falls, and because I’ve been needing a bit of an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, I decided to sneak in as a stowaway among their belongings.
Things were going great until our second night there when Big Burly Pop discovered me. The family had just returned from a long hike and was ravenous, and as he was preparing dinner he spotted me scampering among the firewood. All of a sudden he got this gleam in his eye, a gleam that said, “Yum.” Sharpening his knife – a knife so large it made Crocodile Dundee’s look like a clam shucker – he slowly licked his lips and uttered phrases that made my whiskers curl in on each other. “Rat kabobs, rat dumplings, smoked buffalo-style rat … mmmmm,” he murmured, casting furtive glances in my direction.
Just as the onions and potatoes were coming to a boil I made a run for it, but Big Burly Pop’s reflexes were too quick for mine. My red rat eyes boggled and I squeaked in terror as he dangled me precariously over the fire, but thankfully his daughters stepped out of the tent at the last minute, shouting, “Bob, NO!” At that same instant another movement caught the eye of my would-be rat roaster. “Shrew stew!” he exclaimed, letting go of my tail, which allowed me to quickly scurry away. Thus my little black rat hide was saved from what would otherwise have been a swift and sordid demise.
Our camping trip came to a close, and – other than the shrew – everyone had a great time. If you have plans to enjoy nature in its element during this wonderful autumn season, by all means, go for it. For the sake of rodents everywhere, however, take along some sandwiches or something! Boiled peanuts, marshmallows, anything … just not us!
Keepin’ it squeak,