Things ain’t as sweet as they used to be…

NutellaSince my last post, I’ve managed to catch two colds and write about 40,000 NaNoWriMo words. I imagine the second number would be higher if the first were lower, but such are the perils of an early winter and an inability to sleep for the proper amount of time. I’m enjoying the “chapter” I’m on right now, though — it’s narrated by Crow, one of my favorite beasties, and I’ve managed to incorporate the Crow and the Pitcher, Raven Steals the Light, and a few other corvid-related bits of mythology into the story so far. It’s looking like I’ll wind up with eight different species’ takes on the way of things at the Beginning of the World, though each has a different focus, interpretation and style. Two major natural events, a flood and an eclipse, are the only constants, though why and when they happened vary. There’s also one recurring quote and action, which occurs at different places in the stories and with different connotations, with no real explanation given for its persistence.

This, of course, has nothing to do with today’s drawing.

A few days ago, I was walking to the grocery store and I heard a strange, hollow scraping from somewhere above me. A couple octaves lower and I’d assume it was a squirrel gnawing on a walnut, which can be heard from a surprising distance on a still day when the trees are bare. But this sounded almost like metal or plastic. I ducked away from the nearest tree, because it was an icy day and there were a few cracked branches around. I didn’t fancy having one of them fall on me as I tried to pinpoint what sound it was making. But when I looked up, I realized it was none of these things.

A fat squirrel was carrying something brown in its mouth. It wasn’t a nut, and it wasn’t a pile of leaves for its nest. This left “garbage,” and upon closer inspection (and listening) it did in fact appear to be a piece of hard plastic of some kind. The little fellow was gnawing on it, which just seemed incredibly sad, so I ran up a bit closer to see if I could scold him into dropping it and finding a healthier alternative. The squirrel just flicked his tail and scurried into a higher branch — but not before I caught sight of the label and shape of the package. It was the container for one of those little Yan Yan-style snacks with the cookie sticks on one side and the dip on the other. They come in a few flavors these days. This one?

Nutella.

Bless his little squirrely heart, he was just after some hazelnuts. I don’t know whether he managed to get a tasty (if rather unhealthy, for a squirrel) meal out of it or not, but it reminded me of Shel Silverstein’s brief poem “Peckin’,” which begins “The saddest thing I ever did see/Was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree.” I really wished I’d had a camera for this one, but as it is I had to settle for a sketch (I probably should have just taken the time to grab a couple squirrel pics for reference, it’s not as if they’re hard to find; but that’s a lot more work than just drawing stuff and hoping for the best. I’m all about doing less work!).

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