End of the month, winter coming. Moving won't be much fun for the next few months.
"Bob" told me about his camp by Minnehaha Creek. He planned to take a snack pack of carrots, celery and crackers to his friends, two squirrels who hung out by his tent.
They had high expectations and they scolded him when he didn't share his food.
Bob used to feed them peanuts but at $15 a gallon, that got expensive. He had tried offering mushrooms but the squirrels were disdainful.
I thought squirrels dug for mushrooms, he said.
Nah, they're burying acorns or looking for acorns the other squirrels buried, Dave said. Dave used to hunt squirrels, knows how to call them and presumably knows how to cook them, but it sounds like those days are over.
Take 'em these, Dave said. They'll really eat 'em up.
He handed over two giant dog treats.
Bob has insulated three sides of his tent with brush and tarps, leaving open the east side since the wind is less frequent from that direction. He hopes to get the top reinforced before heavy snow comes.
He can't stand the shelters. All it takes to ruin the night is one inconsiderate person who can't settle down. Eating at one in the morning. Playing games on his phone. Talking.
We've only got so many hours to sleep and then we're out of there and can't get back in until six, Bob said. I'd rather be outside, be able to sleep in if I want, and not worry about getting my things stolen when my back is turned.
He slept fine Thanksgiving night.
A Native man in telltale winter camping garb (knit cap, hooded sweatshirt, Carhartt coveralls) secured a Conestoga-sized bundle atop a little red wagon. A woman emerged from the wedge of woods between the tracks and the bike trail, bringing a tri-fold exercise mat and two small sleeping bags, bright yellow with red trim.
The temperature hovered just above freezing. Darkness would fall in another hour.
The man smiled at my greeting. How was your holiday? he said cheerfully.
Looks like you're packing up.
Our third load today. The police came and said we have to move.
You have a place to go?
He said they were setting up a new camp under the freeway, a much more exposed location where it's only a matter of time before they'll have to move again.
We've left some good things back there, the woman said. I hope they'll be here tomorrow.
Stay warm, I said.
They grinned. From their faces, they might have been just moving their cabana further down the beach.