By Charles Towne
I am a collector of fine tree squeaks. And unless you spend an inordinate amount of time wandering around in the woods most likely don’t know what a tree squeak is. I am sure, that even though you didn’t recognize it for what it was, you have heard the mysterious call of the tree squeak.
Those that have encountered tree squeaks in the past have invariably heard them before they saw them, and to reassure you, I don’t believe anybody has ever been attacked by a tree squeak which leads me to believe they are quite harmless. Yes, harmless and quite docile.
Tree squeaks are sought more for their music than anything else. And just in case someone comes to you and tells you that their dear aunt Sadie has a coat made of tree squeak hides, don’t believe a thing they tell you.
As I have already indicated, anybody that spends much time in the great outdoors has heard an occasional tree squeak now and again, and to hear that mysterious song in the middle of the night has jolted more than one camper out of his slumber to sit there staring into the darkness in wonder.
Now, just in case you are thinking that a tree squeak is some sort of furry little animal, or a willow-the-wisp wandering around in the woods singing and squeaking, I better set you straight.
What a tree squeak is, no more, and no less, is two branches or trees moving in the wind, amorously caressing each other. This then is the source of that sound which has robbed you of your sleep.
Some tree squeaks sing high, some sing low, but rarely will you hear a tree squeak sing high and low at the same time, but that isn’t to say as this story illustrates, that it never happens.
Collecting tree squeaks is really an interesting hobby and calls for no more than a good pair of ears unless you want to record the music and then a good recording device with a directional microphone might well be advised. Just think, you could call the resulting melody, ”Rhapsody in the tree tops.”
One day I was wandering in a large oak grove searching for a particularly illusive tree squeak that I had been searching for. There was a gentle breeze so I figured, and rightly so, the tree squeak would be active and singing right pretty.
Yes, there it was just ahead of me! It was a two toned tree squeak! It was singing a somewhat peculiar, “Skree skraww, Skree skraww!” And there, some twenty feet above me, two oaks had grown close together, and the light breeze occasionally brought them into tender and intimate embrace.
The bark had been worn away by that gentle movement up there, and now, where the two trees joined, naked wood met naked wood, resulting in just the right amount of friction, and thus the music
Suddenly, from the corner of my eye a movement caught my attention…
There on the ground something black, yes, black and fast and quite large was running across the forest floor in front of me. Now my attention was no longer on the tree squeak, for that large, black, and very fast something had changed course and was running right at me.
A BLACK BEAR WAS MAKING A VERY DETERMINED CHARGE AND I WAS HIS TARGET!
The bear was moving so fast that by the time it registered on me what was happening all I had time to do was throw my arms in the air and shout a very bearlike “WHAAA!”
At my shout the bear veered away and passed so close I could have reached out and touched him.
I want you to know that bear made fast look slow! He Had covered about a hundred feet and all I had time to do was throw my hands in the air and shout. Fast? I am here to tell you he was fast!
When it was all done and my heart had settled down a bit I came to the conclusion the bear had been sleeping and I had surprised him on his bed.
Perhaps brother bear thought I was another bear. It’s impossible to know for sure what precipitated his charge but all I know for sure is that when a bear charges past so close he can spit in your eye, he is too close.
As I walked away the tree squeak was still serenading me. Come to think about it, I bet that bear was listening to the tree squeak’s song too.
AN OUTDOORSMAN’S PRAYER
Thank you Papa God for attuning my senses to such a fine degree.
Thank you for giving me the ability to enjoy even the little things in life.
When I think of the vastness of your creation and then ponder the whisper of a mouse scurrying through the grass, or the chirp of a bird in the night, or the buzz of a bee I can’t help but be astounded by your tenderness, or by your power and might. Thank you for you, and for loving me.
In Jesus Holy name I ask it , Amen
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.