Life on the Hill

Standing Squirrel

Sumner Lake SP, NM—On the lake, a fish leaps into the air, its yellow belly glistening, its tail slapping the water’s surface before it splashes back into the depths.

A small white heron struts in the grass, darting forward erratically as it snaps at some invisible prey.

Down below, an old man struggles with his canoe by the boat ramp. He eventually slides it into the water, then gingerly steps inside, pushes off and paddles silently across the lake.

The heron, seeing the dock is clear, takes flight. He soars downward and alights on the ramp. He settles in for a moment, making sure the area is safe, then peers deeply into the water.

A squirrel pops her head above a rock at the edge of the cliff. Cautiously she comes forward, sniffing the ground, stopping, evaluating. Then she shuffles forward again. She pokes her nose in the grass and pulls forth a morsel. She sits back on her haunches and eats it, her black eyes like tiny shiny marbles. Finished, she stands up and looks at me. I point my camera, shoot her picture, and lean back into the chair just as a seagull floats by overhead.

I close my eyes.

The sun warms my face and I listen to the breeze and the waves lapping at the shore below.

Across the lake, the seagull caws.

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