Climbing the Walls (and Trees) for Story

As I was racking my brains for a blog topic this morning, my two shelter mutt/terrier mixes interrupted by barking with outrage at this fat and saucy squirrel on the back porch. It's a beautiful, coolish, low-humidity morning, so it was just the screen door between the mutts and the taunting floozy of a tail-shaker who was out there very purposely teasing them.

I had to let out the dogs before they tore through the screen. The squirrel, of course, knows this game well, and jumped off the porch and tore up the side of a huge pine with no lower branches. Little Zippy just yapped her head off, but Jewel decided she'd had enough of this crap, so with a running start, she bounded up the tree.

Young and athletic though Jewel is, she got about eight feet off the ground before gravity pulled her down. (She twisted neatly in the air and landed on her feet.) But she apparently liked the feeling, so she kept at it, running up the tree time and time again even though Madame Squirrel had long since branch-to-branched her way clear of the yard.

I doubt Jewel will ever get as good at tree-climbing as Holly the Collie from this YouTube video. (Our trees aren't right for it, for one thing.) But I also doubt that Jewel will quit. Because it's the activity that's hooked her, the challenge of putting all her muscle and athleticism up against an impossible ideal (catching that damned squirrel).

As a writer, I relate completely. The damned squirrel is the unattainable perfection of the story/character idea. Though I know I'll never really catch it, I love the trying so much, I don't know how to stop.


Joni Rodgers said…
Jewel the unstoppable! She will prevail! (We live next door to five Jack Russel terriers, and they are some tree-climbin' little fireballs.)

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