Say It Isn't So

Saturday, November 18, 2006


The other morning as I am peering out my big picture window, sipping on my morning mug of coffee, I see a squirrel out of the corner of my eye. I have always liked squirrels. Must be the mouse in me, but they have always peaked my interest. I am also very fond of nuts of all kinds; cashews, brazils, peanuts, humans.

There is quite a bit of traffic rolling down my street during rush hour. It is normally a quiet avenue with a 25 mph speed limit, but it offers a 2 mile east-west stretch with only 1 stop sign linking 2 major north-south thoroughfares. Of course at these times, nobody pays any attention to the speed limit. They just barrel on up and down the road. Racing through their hectic days. Watching this, I feel so lucky to be able to not have to go anywhere in such a manner. At least not for the time being anyway. Once I get my house in order, a purposefully slow process because my head is still in a fog, I will look for employment.

The squirrel that I am watching starts to climb up a telephone pole. Yes, they still have telephone pole like structures here in the midwest. I am a bit puzzled as to why the squirrel would venture up this pole. Does it have a stash of nuts up there? Does it not realize that this is not a tree? There are several good sized trees in my yard. This critter steps onto the wire and heads out over the busy road to get to the other side where there is an abundance of trees. I was astounded by a level of intelligence that I was not expecting to perceive in a rodent. Then I was embarassed by my inability to see it's intent from the very onset.

As a child back in the great white north I lived in an upper level unit of a four plex. It backed onto a convent grounds where there were gardens and orchards and a plenty of squirrels. During the 4 months of the year when there was no snow on the ground I used spend a lot of time in the trees of the apple orchard munching on those delicious morsels of fruit. When not actually in the trees myself, I would often go out on the back porch with a handful of nuts and call to my squirrel friends. One would always come bounding out of a tree, over the fence, up the long wooden stairway that led to my back porch, then sit up on its' haunches and give my an inquiring look. I would give it a nut. Sometimes, I would hold the nut up above my shoulder, and the squirrel would climb me like a tree, perch on my shoulder, I'd let it have the nut and away it would go. It would never eat the treat on my back porch, but would take it all the way back over the fence to safe and hallowed ground. Did I mention that we had a dog. A black labrador retreiver whose sole mission in life was to render useless any small 4 legged critter that moved.

It came to my attention later in life, as a leader of a fire lookout tower in the San Bernardino National Forest, that squirrels frequently carry the fleas that carry the black death called the bubonic plague. The most active time of the year for these fleas is in the heat of summer. So I suppose that I have to consider myself lucky. I am still very fond of squirrels. Walt Disney has something to do with this side of me I am sure. Thank-you Walt.


At 6:14 PM, November 20, 2006, Blogger Steel Turman said...

I've developed very close relationships with squirrels on several occasions.

Used to have a small window and its sill was centered and at table level to our breakfast nook table.

Over the course of a few weeks, the resident critter became bold enough to sit on that sill while we ate. He watched.

I started leaving him a portion of dinner too.

From then on, just merely sitting down for a cup of coffee brought him running.

Once had a very large yard with a very large deck. I had to smoke outside and that was where.

Several furtails got used to me in their foraging and ignored me.

I bought an assortment of nuts and seeds.

Over the next few weeks, they were eating out of my hand.

A few weeks later, I could get them (there were 3, I called them Poncho, Lefty and the Outlaw) to stand in a row and stand up and ask for the food.

Then I discovered that there were sugargliders in the same tree.

The night shift.

But that's another story.

At 6:16 PM, November 20, 2006, Blogger Steel Turman said...

Remind me sometime to tell you the story of my close relationship with a pair of mating eagles.

I learned their language.

They would come when I called.

At 3:30 PM, November 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to be fond of squirrels till I became a land owner in suburbia ... they LOVE to dig up my bulbs and plantings. Grrrr...

At 7:13 PM, November 21, 2006, Blogger mouse said...

Sir Mdm, What you need is a cat. They can dispatch a squirrel in seconds. No, never mind, they like to dig in a garden too.


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