It was a lovely fall-ish Sunday yesterday so we called a local 9-hole executive course and headed out for a little non-score-keeping golf. There were four of us, as we've learned that if you only have three people, there's a fairly good chance that you'll get stuck with a random (who will encourage their 12-year old daughter to play as well, which means that it takes approximately three days to play each hole...thank goodness for beverage carts) and we were all excited to be out on the course.
As we were paying for our rounds, we met an older couple who wished us a great afternoon and warned us...to watch out for the red squirrels?
We looked at each other, laughed, said "thanks," and giggled about the strange warning as we made our way to the first tee. Eight not-so-great drives later (we each required a re-do) we'd started our way down the fairway towards the hole and just as we arrived at the green, the clouds parted and we were bathed in warm mid-afternoon sunlight. It was just delightful.
We casually took our shots, enjoying the lazy pace that comes from having nobody in front of you and nobody following, and before too long, found ourselves at the fourth hole. The older couple's warning about the red squirrels had faded, so we were surprised when a tiny little guy emerged out of the forest and started to crawl all over one of our bags. We laughed as the tiny woodland creature went around and around, and after we'd all taken our shots, Marc walked over to the bag to scare the squirrel away. Well, I guess that the squirrel was used to being close to people, so Marc approaching him didn't do anything (I immediately thought of the squirrel in The Sword and the Stone, so the squirrel became a dude). Marc then took it to the next level and threw a ball, just to the left of the bag.
In a flash, the squirrel's eyes narrowed with focus and, before we could react, lept off of the bag and made a b-line towards the ball. Without slowing for a second, he somehow managed to pick up the ball with it's front arms and then sprint into the trees.
We laughed, howled even, at the ball-stealing-squirrel-bandit and remarked about how the older couple's warning hadn't included a disclaimer about ball-theft. Still chuckling, we finished the hole and continued on our way. When the red squirrel appeared at the next tee, we laughed a little more, but our jovial spirits were short-lived.
I'd say there's a distinct possibility this particular squirrel may have escaped from a nature-run-insane-asylum because it scooted towards us, stopped, and made the.most.disturbing.sound.ever. It was squinting and twitching and sounded like he was about to attack, like a woodchuck that had inhaled a bunch of helium. He stared us down, daring us to do something and then I saw a flash off to the left in my peripheral vision. I turned my head to see another squirrel, also sketched out and staring at us. It didn't take long for us to figure out that the original ball-stealing and potentially rabies-carrying mini-animal had sounded some kind of alarm and called for back-up. Marc's attempt at "scaring" the terror had instead fed his addiction to small white divited balls, and frankly, we were terrified.
For the last couple of holes, we could feel their tiny beaded eyes watching us - waiting for another thieving opportunity, and although we didn't actually "see" them, we knew they were there. We shot a few hooks into the forest and despite the four of us looking, never found them, so we're fairly certain that they've been added to his/their stash.
Nature is funny here, but I often seem to be on the wrong side of the joke. Marc wants to go back soon and try to stalk one so we can get enough balls for next season, but that seems a little crazy.
Oh who am I kidding, we're obviously going to try. Free balls, baby!