A squirrel told me my mother was a “miracle worker” 

6 September, 2020            A squirrel told me my mother was a “miracle worker” 

A person parked next to me this morning at Pony Pasture with the license plate SQRLY1. I asked him what his license meant and he said “It’s sort of a joke. I’m a paramedic and the nickname for people who run lots of calls is a ‘squirrel.’” I laughed and said my parents used to be EMT’s up in the mountains. I’ll continue the story at the end of this post. 

Today’s pretty but it’s a challenging time of year (for me) to get pictures I’m super fond of. Leaves are just beginning to fall, and more light will be coming through, and more birds will be (and are) migrating but it’s a slow time. That being said! I got lucky more than zero times this week. My best luck was this sandpiper at Bryan Park. Other than being a sandpiper, I’m stumped about the precise type! I am open to input from anyone who wants to offer it. I’m positive this is either a Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) or a Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria). But I’m not sure which! [[This just in! My friend Nancy hypothesizes this is a “non-breeding adult spotted sandpiper”. Her evidence is the white patch on the tip of its tail and the streak through its eye. She asked if it bobbed its tail when it walked but I didn’t see it walk enough to judge.]] Have a look: 

Sandpiper at Bryan Park this week

The Cornell Lab All About Birds website goes on to say “Though you may think of the beach as the best place to see a sandpiper, look for Spotted Sandpipers alone or in pairs along the shores of lakes, rivers, and streams.”  

While researching this post I read this interesting fact about female Spotted Sandpipers:  “Female Spotted Sandpipers sometimes practice an unusual breeding strategy called polyandry, where a female mates with up to four males, each of which then cares for a clutch of eggs”

I saw a lovely butterfly this week at Deep Run. It was crawling down the trunk of an oak tree; I turned it sideways because (IMO) it looks better this way. My best guess is this is a Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) but I’m not certain that’s correct: 

“Red-spotted purple” at Deep Run:

I see skinks more in the Spring than in late summer, but here’s a beauty from earlier this week: 

Late summer skink at Deep Run

Speaking of butterflies (by the way), I’ve mentioned in earlier posts all the native plants Evelyn has growing on all four sides of our house to attract pollinators. Mackey and Turner and I ended our day with a short walk Thursday. We end every day with a short walk if it’s not pouring rain. It was after 9:30 PM when I looked on our porch screen and saw this beauty: 

Night time butterfly on our back porch – I never knew!

Yuki’s been out of town for a few weeks but he joined Mackey and Turner and me at the river this fine September morning. The river was still a little high and muddy from all the rain, but these guys make any scene look great: 

Turner, Mackey and Yuki at the edge of the James River this morning:

Speaking of making any scene look great, look at this pot of gardenias Evelyn has in our backyard. I counted sixteen blooms of various ages. They sure are happy! 

You can smell this from a long way away!

This flower at the river didn’t smell quite as good as our gardenias but it sure is pretty. The indistinct gardenia colored blur behind it is Yuki: 

Flower on the riverbank with Yuki in the background

I think I’ll jot down that quick story I began at the top then sign off for the week. Come back next week! 

All best, 


= = = = = = = = = = = 

A squirrel told me my mother was a “miracle worker”

So I’m shooting the breeze with the guy and his wife, they were real friendly, it was a cool, sunny Labor Day morning (it was this morning) and we’d all just gotten out of our vehicles at Pony Pasture. Most EMS people I’ve met (I’ve met a lot) are “squirrely” to a greater or lesser extent. They all like to talk about EMS. So I said my parents became EMT’s up in the mountains when they retired. I said the scanner was always going in their living room and they’d listen to the string of emergency calls. They knew everyone on the squad and most of their neighbors. I casually mentioned that my mom had three “CPR Save” pins. His eyes widened dramatically and he said “Dude, your mother was a miracle worker!” He went on to tell me he’d been a paramedic for fifteen years and he’d never known anybody who had one

If you are not a “squirrel” or have not had the good fortune to spend time with squirrels, a brief definition of a “CPR Save.” When EMS personnel arrive at an emergency, or while they’re at an emergency, in rare cases the patient “codes.” “Code” is shorthand; it means the person’s heart has stopped beating. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US, and when your heart stops beating, you die. More often than not. But for three lucky people, my mom was there when their hearts stopped beating. And my mom performed CPR and got them to the hospital alive. It happens so rarely that the American Heart Association hands out an award – a “Heartsaver Hero” or “CPR Save” pin – when it does. 

Again, this guy was a paramedic, emergency medicine is what he does for a living. And he’d never gotten one and never known anyone who’d gotten one. And my mom had three. So that’s why I started out my Labor Day Sunday morning with a total stranger telling me my mom was a “miracle worker.” Good thing mom and dad were “squirrelly”! 

= = = = = = = = = = =

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Bryan Park, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, Gardenias, James River, love, newfaze, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to A squirrel told me my mother was a “miracle worker” 

  1. Nancy Marple Favor says:

    Jay, I think your bird is probably a non-breeding adult spotted sandpiper. Wish I could zoom in on your photo! It has a tiny white patch on the tip of its tail, and looks like it may have a bit of a white streak through the eye. Did it bob its tail when it walked? If you click on non-breeding adult on the link that you shared, you find more pictures and info about the tail-bobbing. Love a good bird mystery! And what a great story about your parents and your mother!

    • Hi Nancy! Great to hear from you! I didn’t get to watch it walk enough to tell if it bobbed, but I think your ID is correct. It was on a little rock about the size of a manhole cover that was surrounded by water on all sides. And I didn’t get to look at it as long as I’d have liked. I’ve passed that spot dozens of times with your grandson! I’m glad you liked the story about mom! She was definitely one of a kind. Thanks for the comment and ID and have a great day,


  2. Jackie says:

    OMG everything looks so beautiful, hate to see the season end. FYI I think we’re all squirrely

  3. liz adams says:

    Just another wonderful thing about your mom. I miss her phone calls more than youu know.

    • Thanks for the note Liz. Neither of them are ever far from my thoughts. I tell stories about both of them all the time. She was a force of nature! Thanks again, say hello to Bill and Ruth and Sarah and have a great day,


  4. Sheila M. Wiese says:

    Wow! I just learned something new about Mom! That is so cool. Thanks for sharing this story!

    • Hi Sheila,
      And thanks for the note. That’s the classic sort of thing about Mom that you’d never know unless somebody else told you. Because Mom didn’t ACT like it wasn’t a big deal – to here it WASN’T a big deal. She was just doing what she did. They broke the mold when they made old Jude!

  5. Laurie Wilner says:

    This was such a great story! Your mom certainly was a hero, Aside from her CPR saves, she raised five amazing kids. But I always try to pay attention to the timing of events like that. What if you had not pulled up and parked next to that person what if your timing was off….. But it wasn’t.
    I think these are signs. ❤️‼️
    Have a great day !

    • Thank you Laurie! My mom had a LOT of energy – CPR saves keeping people from LEAVING the world, and being a doula (delivering babies) bringing people INTO the world! And pulling up next to that precise person at that precise time was a pretty remarkable coincidence. It sure is a sign that she taught us to strike up a conversation with anyone we meet! Speaking of that, read the comment that comes after this one – pretty remarkable. Thanks for the note! Have a great day,


  6. Seva Sergio Flores Acevedo says:

    Hello Jay,
    I’m very surprised of the opinion of this paramedic, and that your Mom, our very beloved Judy, had three of this pins. But at the same time, I do believe your mom was pretty surprising. Every year that she came back to us in Cuernavaca, she would do amazing things, not only at home, but moving around the hole territory, coming and going, and meeting people, making friends all around! You knew, she would climb on any public transport and go everywhere, building a great friendship with driver, to know everything about everywhere! She was a real friendly squirrel and nothing would stop her from visiting, knowing places and meeting people, and, of course, having a great fun around Cuernavaca.
    You made my day thinking of her, today!
    Thank you very much, Jay! GOD bless you and all the family,
    from Mexican Family,
    Seva Sergio

    • Hola y gracias Sergio! My Mom, your very beloved Judy ALWAYS had kind things to say about her familia in Cuernavaca. It was sweet that you said she “would climb on any public transport and go everywhere, building a great friendship with driver, to know everything about everywhere!” That was EXACTLY how she lived her life – “building a great friendship” wherever she went. When I was talking with the paramedic, it was just the way Mom talked with ALL strangers!

      Thank you for your wonderful and kind words – it makes me smile to see to read your sweet memories. It reminds me once again of my OWN sweet memories of Mom. Thank you! Much love from her American family to her Mexican family! Have a great day,


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