One day in Joshua Tree National Park, my hubby and I drove the Geology Road, a sandy, dusty 17 miles of 4×4 only single-lane road through a remote part of the park.
As we drove our small 4×4 Chevy Tracker named Bob along the sandy road, we’d see something worth stopping for.
One time was a huge set of boulders and an earthen dam constructed by cattlemen who tried to homestead the area. Another time, Nelson spotted some abandoned mines and hiked up to check them out. On his hike down, he found an arrowhead (we left it there and alerted the rangers about its location).
Next was a sharp turn that took us up the road to an overlook that allowed us to see the entire valley we’d just driven. Here, we both got out to stretch our legs and admire the view.
Nelson wandered off, camera in hand, and I sat on a big rock to enjoy the scenery.
As I sat there, a small bit of movement caught my attention.
Zip. Wiggle. Zip. Wiggle. Zoooooooom.
A small white-tailed antelope squirrel was making himself busy looking for scraps.
I spied peanut shells on the ground and figured this little guy was used to getting a handout from tourists.
I am not big on feeding the wildlife in wild places, so I just put on my patience hat, sat there, and watched him.
Soon enough, he stopped to watch me.
Then he started doing his dance. He’d advance and retreat. Advance and retreat.
I never moved, but something would happen to freak him out and ZIP he was gone again.
Finally he got brave enough to come up next to my knee. He looked me over, decided I didn’t actually have a treat for him (sorry, buddy), and then he was on his way to do something that was (hopefully) more productive than begging from me!
I completely enjoyed the interaction, though. Just sitting watching him scuffle around, running between, around, and under the rocks, stopping to furiously scratch an itch or pausing to clean his whiskers.
He was so darn cute and I was grateful for the time with him (or her…).
So, gentle reader, if you’d like to have a close encounter with something wild, the birds and squirrels of the suburbs are usually willing. Go into your backyard armed with birdseed or nuts. Spread them around and then just sit still. Eventually, you’ll become part of the background. They’ll forget you are there and venture forward.
Enjoy the time observing their fur or feathers, how they move, their crazy breathing, and even when they meet your eye.
Go out with patience on your mind and in heart and you’ll soon find yourself lost in a wild interaction.