Tales of Brood X and a Flying Squirrel Wrangler!
Central Pennsylvania . . . come for Brood X. Stay for the flying squirrels!
Oh boy, do we know how to celebrate a Solstice!
It was Father's Day in the U.S., and we were also celebrating my parents' 71st wedding anniversary and a few birthdays. So we put the fresh chocolate chip cookies in the car and headed down to Juniata County to visit my family for the afternoon.
The good news is that I got to see more of my family members than have probably been together in one place since Christmas of 2019. We did not visit much during quarantine, and then this past Christmas, my mom tested positive for Covid and broke her hip; alas, there was no family Christmas celebration in 2020.
So we spent the afternoon in the living room, sitting around and talking, talking, talking. And I also got to check out the outdoors: for instance, how are the baby plants doing, that have grown from the red Mexican sunflower seeds I sent them all, so that everyone might have even a tiny butterfly garden later in the summer to honor my big sister Barb.
But also, I was hoping to score some cicada shells, for a photo shoot. And I did! My husband and I live in Centre County, and we have the regular cicadas here. But my parents live in Juniata County, and they have the big 17-year Brood X awakening right on their doorstep. (More about Brood X here.) There are crusty cicada shells at the base of every tree, and the woods ring out with their song.
I also got to observe the live cicadas in action. My dad's one lilac bush was just covered in them, and I stood for about 10 minutes, just taking pictures of the bugs. That's where I got my main photo above. There were many, many cicadas on the lilac bush.
The cicadas were flying around me, lifting up like tiny helicopters, the beat of their wings sounding raspy, like cellophane. If you had a strong startle response (I have learned to curb mine pretty well, especially when I have my camera in my hands), you probably couldn't have handled it!
So we had our visit, and everyone seemed to be doing pretty well. And I got to observe the cicadas and photograph them; and I came home with a small box of cicada shells for an amusing photo shoot that you will no doubt see the results of on Blip one of these days.
And then my husband and I left to go back home. Our evening was uneventful, and around 8, we put in a DVD of The Mentalist TV shows, which is a favorite of ours. We were sitting there watching it, and decided to finish up the DVD by watching the last episode on it.
So we were in the middle of that, when - shortly after 10 - my husband suddenly let out a screech! He said, "There's a flying squirrel in here!" and then with another little shout, he threw his blanket over it, left the room post-haste, and closed the bedroom door, leaving me inside with the flying squirrel.
(Now, I have to tell you that this was NOT my first flying squirrel rodeo! Back in the beginning, when I first bought the house in 2004, something kept coming in and eating the bird seed I had in a bag in the living room. It turned out it was a flying squirrel. It had been getting into the house through an entrance in the chimney.)
So anyway, there I was, late at night, locked in the bedroom, mano a mano with the flying squirrel! I have a trash can and several empty containers in the bedroom, and I had them with me, and was trying to put one of them over top of the flying squirrel.
First, it hid under the bed. Then it came out and ran to the corner behind the DVD racks. Then it ran under the bed. Then around the bed. Then behind the bed. I removed things from under the bed; moved the DVD racks; tore the place apart!
And during the whole time, I sweet-talked that flying squirrel. "Aw, who's a cutie? Aren't you adorable? Look how cute you are!" And it seemed to be interested, and sometimes slowed down and looked at me when I talked. But I was not fast enough to toss one of my containers on top of it.
My husband's voice came from the other side of the door with helpful advice: "Don't let it bite you!" he said. I surveyed the flying squirrel. The flying squirrel surveyed me. It looked most of all like a plush toy, perhaps a TY beanie baby, the flying squirrel kind, if they make one.
Finally, I asked my husband to bring me the butterfly net, and that did the trick. The next time the flying squirrel made a lap around, I threw the butterfly net over it, twisted the net so it couldn't get out. I grabbed a nearby container, put the net over it, and the flying squirrel was sort of trapped in both the net and the container.
I opened the bedroom door and ran out with the squirrel in hand. But of course, before I released it, how could I resist such a great photo opportunity? Unfortunately, the container I put the squirrel into was on the opaque side, so I didn't get any great photos of it inside the container itself. I guess next time I capture a flying squirrel, I'll try to use a CLEAR container so I can get some better photos.
But there IS indeed a photo in the extras of me on the front porch, with a great big silly grin on my face, and also a look of triumph, with the flying squirrel in the net and the container in my hands (the flying squirrel is hard to see but it is poking its head up in the left edge of the container there). Shortly after, the squirrel was released, and ran down the front steps and disappeared into the night!
The solstice officially rang in about an hour after the big flying squirrel caper, as it would be known in latter years. (Or rather, chapter 2 of the flying squirrel caper, as someday I promise I'll tell you more about that first one.) Do we know how to ring in a solstice or what!!! Yowza! And my husband says, "Boy, don't we know how to have fun in the country!"
My soundtrack song has to be something about catching or being caught, so here is 38 Special, with Caught Up in You.