Of Red Squirrels, Hummingbirds, and a Spirit Dog

Despite the cool nights and the occasional cool day, summer has come to Maine. In fact, as someone who has seen a lot of Maine summers, this, so far, has been an old-fashioned June with some rain, some sun, some warm days, some chilly ones. It is only during the past five years that Maine Junes haveΒ  become so warm. This June is a throwback to the old days, and it feels quite normal to me.

Rather than warm weather, summer in Maine is heralded by green in all its cool shades. Our backyard, indeed all of Winthrop, is enveloped by green—the leaves, the evergreens, the ferns.

Our patio is our summer living room, and Clif and I spend as much time there as we can. For much of the year, we are cooped up inside, and it is a relief to be outside, unencumbered by hats, coats, and gloves.

Yesterday, after doing yard work, we had our tea on the patio. A red squirrel, in a nearby tree, scolded us. I suspect the little creature wanted to raid the brown bird feeder, and we were too close for comfort.

“Have we ever bothered you?” I asked. “No, not once.”

With a twitch of the tail, the red squirrel continued to stare at me and chitter even louder.

To add to the backyard noise, hummingbirds whirred and chased each other away from the feeders. Occasionally, one of them even got something to eat.

A swallow tail butterfly fluttered by, too quick for me to get a picture. Best of all, the dragonflies have come, and the mosquito population has dropped noticeably.

This spring, I neglected to stake the tall irises, and they have drooped pathetically over neighboring plants—begonias, daylilies, and evening primroses.

Next year, I will try to do better, but even though the irises have fallen, they are still beautiful.

As I sat on the patio and listened and watched, the spirit of a black and white dog zoomed around the perimeter of the yard. Barking and racing, setting the boundaries.

Then the past and the present came together—the birds, the spirit dog, the flowers. So much happening on one little half acre.

Finally, I want to thank my blogging friends for all the kind words over the past two weeks, which have been hard for us. It is often difficult to know what to say when someone is grieving the loss of a beloved pet, or even worse, a family member or close friend. But simple words of sympathy really do help, even something as basic as “I am so sorry for your loss.”

Many, many thanks to you all.



43 thoughts on “Of Red Squirrels, Hummingbirds, and a Spirit Dog”

  1. I too can feel the happy spirit of our Sheltie with us whenever I want. I decided that my great aunt would be with her until we get there. Who knows if there is any truth to any of it but it feels right to me. Comforts are good at a time of loss.

    1. Yes, yes. Makes me smile to think of my Sheltie’s spirit racing around the yard. For some reason, I didn’t realize you had had a Sheltie. Nice! Wonderful dogs, aren’t they?

  2. So glad you feel supported by your blogging friends after your sad loss. Lots of sympathy from me too and thanks for that photograph of the cheeky squirrel.

  3. Oh, such a lovely post, Laurie! We have no red squirrels, so it was cool to see yours. Ours also chitter when annoyed. And our hummingbirds also fuss at each other just as you said. We only get Ruby Throated, is that what yours is? Excellent that you got a photo – they’e FAST!

    So glad you have felt some comfort from the words of your blogging friends – may the Liam 500 live on!

    1. Thanks, Jody. I think all that we have in Maine are the ruby throated hummingbirds. I am not aware of any others.

  4. I often read your posts outloud to my husband. When I got to the part about your spirit dog I broke down and could barely continue. Our very beloved pets fill up our lives with their personalities and routines. They leave an indeliable mark and so their absence is felt with deep sorrow. I love the idea that Liams spirit carries on doing his Liam 500 and I appreciate the comfort you find in your garden which entertains with local wildlife and beautiful blooms…I thank you for touching my heart!❀

    1. And thank you for writing such a lovely note. My goodness, I was touched. Yes, we are filled with sorrow when our fur buddies pass. As I’ve written before, to be mourned is to be loved.

    1. And you know, I just might have something you’d be interested in, too. But alas…

  5. I am glad that Liam could enjoy the beauty of spring with you in spirit. The picture of the red squirrel is a hoot. I can hear him scolding you heartily.

    1. It’s our favorite place when the weather is warm. Plenty of time for sitting inside in Maine.

  6. It’s nice to read about your summer garden routines… very similar to ours in some ways except you are getting scolded by red squirrels & we get scolded by white cockatoos! Our beloved dog was always in the garden with us, so I can well imagine Liam is there in spirit too.

    1. I expect most people who have had dogs have them in spirit after they have passed. Wow! Scolded by white cockatoos! To this Mainer, that sounds pretty darned exotic. πŸ˜‰

  7. Liam will always be with you in spirit and it is lovely you could see him zoom around the garden – perhaps the squirrel could see him too! πŸ™‚πŸ’– xxx

  8. What a lovely ode to June at your place! And you got hose great pix! We do talk to the animals and flowers, don’t we? And sometimes answer for them too!
    We can barely turn around outdoors without one or two chipmunks flying across our feet. Don’t know why, but their population has gone nuts this year.

    1. Many thanks, Cynthia! We, too, have an abundance of chipmunks. They are everywhere. Must be something about our winter that made them thrive. I have to admit that I have a very soft spot for these little creatures who never try to come into the house. They just go about their busy business.

      1. Well, they make deep but small holes in the lawn and they are pretty tame. My dear man went and bought lifesaver thingys for our pool so they can escape to safety if they fall in.

  9. I do love June, too, and being outside after all those cold months! We were out last night, listing to kingfishers and a woodpecker bang away. Glad to know your spirit dog is close by . . .

  10. Lots of rain here, this Spring. Can’t keep up witht he weeds. A pine siskin nested in a hanging basket on our deck. A house wren is feeding young in a hanging basket on our porch. They give us the evil-eye when we come to water the plants.

    1. Wish you could send a little rain our way. Very dry in Maine, as it has been for the past five years. Luckily, we get a lot of snow in the winter.

  11. Lovely photos! Beautiful description of your wonderful backyard that offers not only a place of beauty, but also the sounds of nature and memories of your spirit dog.

  12. Your outdoor living room sounds wonderful, surrounded by beautiful flowers, birds and animals and even a turbo-powered spirit Liam! May you and Clif find comfort this summer in your gentle surroundings. xx

    1. Clare, it is sheer delight. I love “turbo-powered spirit Liam.” He was a wild boy in his younger days and a marvel to watch as he raced around the backyard. Kept his people and guests very amused.

  13. Hummingbirds – love their sound. We don’t have any here in the UK.
    What a perky squirrel.
    How wonderful to feel a playful spirit close by.

    1. Those little birds are a summer delight. Yes, so wonderful to have spirit dog close by. Sigh. How we still miss our buddy.

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