patience, balance, and flying squirrels

I want to start this post by first of all saying how utterly thankful and amazed I am that Ira is totally fine after taking a nine and a half foot fall from the roof of our house this morning. Very thankful. Very amazed. (He was once again wearing that purple sweater. Hmmmmm.) He lost his balance on the slippery, frosty tin roof and slid Clark W. Griswold style off the edge. So not only did he fall, he fell with velocity. Remarkably, he mostly landed on his feet on our unyielding slate patio, but has only a sore ankle, bruised knee, and a possible broken toe from the spill. (Did I mention how thankful this mama is? After looking the scene over, I saw just how bad it could have been.) After the fall, because (fortunately) I did not see it, Ira said he sat on the patio, caught his breath, greeted the curious dog, and then walked himself into the house with a slightly rattled “I fell off the roof, I’m fine, I’m totally fine, but I fell off the roof…” Lesson learned: frosty tin is slippery stuff. Second lesson learned: we are not invincible creatures. We slip and we fall. This life is a constantly precarious balancing act, in many more ways than just watching our footing.IMG_5536

His mission on the roof this morning was to check his live trap. He is hoping to start trapping the many flying squirrels from the walls and roof of our cabin for relocation into the surrounding forest. Some might question my sanity as a parent; freely allowing my nine year old onto the roof of the house to check his animal traps. But Ira has always been sure-footed and capable. He has more than proven his abilities over the years. I trust his ability and agility on the roof more than my own, and I was up there yesterday as well. Each child is so different, but for Ira the process of growing and developing requires lots of freedom from his hyper-paranoid mama. Sure, if I hadn’t let him on the roof he would not have fallen. But what lessons would have been missed? We all take chances each and every day. It’s just part of living.IMG_5543

So, back to the flying squirrels… We have been patiently sharing our house with these amazing little critters for years now. Longer than we realize, I think. We only began noticing their presence about four years ago though, shortly after adding on our kitchen and bedroom addition, just before Olivia was born. Because I was eight plus months pregnant and we were kind of in a hurry to get the indoor space finished enough to be a suitable space for having a baby, the outdoor details of this construction project were greatly neglected (we did the building ourselves). So baby arrived, and shortly thereafter the cold weather of winter. Where the new roof of the addition connected with the existing structure, there was a handy little hole that allowed the squirrels entry into the roof cavity, directly above my head while lying in bed. For the first few years, they were mostly quiet and mostly went unnoticed. And they always move out for the warm season, so we mostly forgot about them through the spring, summer, and most of autumn. But over these past few years, I suppose their numbers have increased. And with that, they are not so quiet anymore and are definitely noticed. Very much so.IMG_5546

So yesterday morning, after listening to flying squirrel polka back and forth across the tin roof all through the night when he would have greatly preferred to have been sleeping, Eric decided it was time to patch the hole. And after reading in our field guide that these critters maintain numerous dens (Some of which just hold their stores… did you know that each squirrel can store as many as 15,000 nuts in a single season? And did you know that they are very hygienic and reserve some nests just for defecating? Wow.) we didn’t feel as bad about excluding them from the cozy ceiling of our bedroom. So that’s just what we did. Yesterday morning, Eric, Ira, and I removed the sheet of tin above their den, to give them time to get out of the roof before we sealed up the hole. And since we live in a forest loaded with hollow trees and woodpecker nests, we know that there are ample alternatives for the flying squirrels. I can’t help but feeling a little bit like the Grinch, though…IMG_5549{Can you see the flying squirrel on the left side of the tree? This one exited the roof cavity when we removed the tin.}

Night has fallen again, the big full moon is on the rise through the trees in the hollow, and we still hear the scampering of the squirrels on other areas of the roof. But last night, all was still in our bedroom ceiling and I will admit to having a very good night’s rest.IMG_5554