By Virginia M. Wright
photographed by Lori Prosser
Dusk is falling fast on the steep banks of the Aroostook River when Mark Bloomer turns on his outdoor floodlights and leads me onto his porch, which hovers high among the cedars surrounding his home. The air is cold and windless and the forest is silent, as if the fresh snow blanket has absorbed all sound. We wait in this perfect stillness until a shadow flickers just off the porch’s end. “Are they here?” I ask. We peer into the trees. Another flutter, this time off the front railing. A fuzzy blur races along the eaves, up the rafters, and drops with a soft plop onto a platform feeder suspended from the ceiling. A squirrel, round and plump with reddish brown fur and a white belly, fixes his inquisitive big black eyes on us as he nibbles on a sunflower seed.
It isn’t long before the little critter is joined by several more of his kind. It’s time, Bloomer quietly announces, to show what they can do. Reaching up, he jiggles the feeder, and the squirrels spring in all directions. Legs outstretched, they sail in long, graceful swoops to distant trees. They scramble up the trunks and fend off again, gliding down into the darkness beyond.
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