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Munks Rock

Story ID:8383
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Broken Tree Montana USA
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Munks Rock

Munks Rock

Munks Rock

Munks Rock

Munks Rock
by Kathe Campbell

Summertime, and the dog and I greet each dawn checking out Montana's woodland drama that few are blessed to savor. My dog, note pad and long lens wait in mounting fervor until birds strike up signature chords, and the squirrels chatter their scoldings for another day. It's late July, and God's sweet creations are used to me and my getups, rarely fluttering or scampering off during chore time, or cappuccino fixes on the deck.

But wait--there's a small squirrel-like critter busily robbing seeds and nuts from the feeder out at the pond. Groping for the scope in my goody box, the little thief turns out to be a young chipmunk, first ever on this place after thirty-three years. My heart skips a few beats while glassing the wee urchin again and again. A couple more robbers skitter across the far-reaching green looking for their leader. Where did these cute little nippers came from?

Half the size of the stingy and quarrelsome squirrels, they look more like fugitives from a chain gang with their striped coats and hoodies. I can hardly wait to set up a munk feeder out on the farm fence where the cats finally ditch their chase--chipmunks and squirrels the ranch superjocks. Still, the flip-flopping of the doggy door in the laundry room could court looting, for a squirrel made my house his house one harried summer.

As a child of the depression era, thoughts turn to my urban family's Sunday jaunts up Mt. Rainier and our fun hand-feeding chipmunks after dining in the Longmire Lodge. Busy hands twisting and turning nuts, carefully inspecting seeds, filling their cheeks chockfull, then scampering off to secretly store their fortunes. Mindful of rushing waters, wildflower meadows, grazing deer and gigantic trees, the mountain greeted this city kid every morning from my bedroom window. I fanticized becoming a mountaineer seventy years ago, and here I am.

My day is ordained, for I can't take my eyes off what I deem a joyful miracle. I hope the little scamps decide to stay for all the goodies provided here year-around. Suddenly there's a clamor of peeps from one of the munks sitting on the edge of the deck staring right at me. "Hi, Mrs. C., will you always keep those feeders full?" I promise, and with the sudden appearance of a cat, the little fellow races to the safety of the giant firs.

Unlike the tree squirrels, who spend the entire year wherever they darn well please, chipmunks construct expansive burrows with well-concealed entrances. The sleeping quarters are kept extremely clean as shells and feces are stored in refuse tunnels. It's said the western varieties do not hybernate in winter and breed only once a year. The young emerge from the burrow after about six weeks, then strike out on their own. It will be a long winter cooling my heels.

Every day I glass one or two more chipmunks on the scene until there are eight or ten being chased by jealous squirrels, or stalked by my greedy felines. The place is turned into an amusement park with Alvin antics, and yet bird families continue their morning baths unruffled. And now that the last of my favorite wild mallards is gone, a gift of pretty duck decoys keep me and Duck Soup Waterfowl Refuge company.

Little thieves in jailhouse garb bugging frustrated squirrels, the chase is on--around the pond, under long grasses and across the rocks they go, the munks outrunning everybody. The chipmunk gallery cheers fellow escapees until one little guy misses a rock and lands on the back of a half-beached decoy, forcing it out into swirling waters. Around and around they sail, the munk emerging thoroughly drenched with every pass beneath the spitting frog on the island.

Whether a mammal of rodent persuasion can swim eludes my usual good knowledge of most species, so I turn the frog off over at the faucet and make notes. The decoy and it's drowned passenger drifts toward the east bank, stalls amongst some greenery, and the little sailor jumps ship. The day is suddenly silent, furry and feathery populations disappearing for naps until fun and games resume before dark.

I live to see what God brings me every year, none ever alike, for my eightieth summer has been especially eventful. It's my hope the chipmunk birth rate is bountiful and healthy, for I would like to see a good crop of the little critters next spring. The chipmunks are vying for feeder space with newborn woodpeckers today. "The chippies and peckers really go at it, Granny!" a great granddaughter so aptly defines. Munks rock, and I'm one happy camper.