A family of California ground squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi summolestus), a.k.a. the Incredibly Annoying Beechey ground squirrel, has moved into a series of bungalows along our neighbor’s fence line and are driving our two dogs bonkers. The parents and cheeky offspring set off jauntily on hourly foraging missions, slipping under our fence usually just when Reggie and Angus are slurping from the water bowl by the back door and surveying their vast territory. The dogs now are so highly attuned to the slightest motion that a mere twitch from one of these incredibly annoying ground squirrels sets off an ear-splitting, sustained barking that echoes throughout the house and makes us jump like a bomb went off. All this to say that this morning’s visitors were far stealthier in breaching the perimeter fence to find a warm spot to fluff and dry before being noticed; the ensuing indoor bedlam was exponentially greater and louder. Mother Mallard and her five ducklings collectively flipped the bird, made a couple of laps in the pool (dropping numerous, dark depth charges in the process), before waddling back down to the river. As my father would say, “Ain’t nature grand!”