A smear of colors, coffee, cinnamon, walnut, ash, distracts me from the notes in my lap while seated in my car near a park. An eastern gray squirrel switches its tail like windshield wipers and noses through piles of decaying leaves from nearby trees. I continue watching, the January sun high in the cobalt sky, the stillness intense.

Frenetic activity follows: front paws stuffing leaf parts in its mouth, then pausing and staring, then barreling up the trunk of a vintage maple, scrambling from limb to limb until arriving at a fork near the top, then, disappearing inside the beginnings of a dark nest. Moments pass. I wait.

Next the squirrel skitters down the trunk and again zooms among the mulched leaves for another mouthful. On a mission, it repeats this cycle, over and over, even adhering to the same route among the stately limbs of this host tree.

With the onset of the mating season, the squirrel prepares well, with no indication of tiring.

Such persistence!