Gimpy was tearing around on three legs. ("James! Come look! It's Gimpy!" "Wow, he's doin' pretty good, isn't he?") The other squirrel was one of the many nameless tree rats that lack distinctive enough markings (at least, since it isn't lumpy season) to merit a name. He, however, was a squirrel on a mission. He was gonna Get My Finch Sock.
A finch sock is a cheesecloth tube that holds nyger seed, which finches love. I've gone over to 'em because they're cheap and easily replaceable--the squirrels will destroy the feeder eventually no matter what, and I'm fine with losing a $1.50 finch sock, but I get testy over a $30 nyger seed feeder. Anyway, the squirrels had ripped the bottom of out of this one awhile ago, and what with one thing and another, I hadn't bothered to replace it yet. However, the squirrel had the finch sock in his teeth and was going insane, backing along the tree and jerking at it like a small bucktoothed dog playing tug-o-war. As I watched in amazement, he would approach, grapple the sock, stuff as much in his mouth as possible, and then lunge backwards up the tree. He wanted that sock.
This lasted for about three minutes. At any point during this display, I could have thrown open the sliding door and run towards him, waving my hands like an idiot and yelling "Oooga booga!" (my standard squirrel threat display) saving my finch sock for another day, but I was too fascinated. I mean, the determination! Who knew a squirrel could wad up that much cheesecloth and fit it in his mouth? Occasionally he'd drop it, wad it up again, get a better grip, and fling himself backwards around the tree again.
At least, victory! The cords held but the sock cloth at the top did not, and trailing stray threads, the squirrel made off into the woods with a battered finch sock wadded up in his jaws.
I'm out a finch sock, but hell, it was worth it.