Thursday, September 1, 2011


Autumn is creeping up on us. The grass is covered with morning dew. Leaves here and there are beginning to turn. The huge old oak on our front lawn is dropping acorns right and left. And the annual squirrel circus is currently offering daily performances in our yard.

Most of the artistes are Eastern Grey squirrels, occasionally varied by a red squirrel or two and, very rarely, a black one.

We have squirrel magicians, able to make an acorn vanish in a twinkling (either underground or in their cheeks). Squirrel acrobats chasing each other up and down trees, leaping from branch to branch, and generally acting like furry little lunatics. Squirrels who can eat acorns while hanging upside-down on a tree trunk. Other squirrel magicians who can find the most cleverly hidden acorn and spirit it away to some hiding place of their own. And squirrel illusionists who seemingly disappear at will.

I mustn't forget the ridgepole artist who, the other morning, noisily peeled a walnut while precariously perched on the very tippiest tip of the garage roof.

And sideshows: the Incredibly Offended Scolding Squirrel, who heaped contumely upon my innocent head as I sat outside crocheting last night. I don't know why he was so upset, but he let me have it for at least 15 minutes straight with an amazing cacophony of sound ranging from an excellent imitation of a regurgitating cat, to outraged parrot-like squawks, then a kind of stifled tenor bullhorn, finishing off with just plain peevish croaks. I finally stopped him by getting my camera and taking his picture.

Chip on his shoulder

I love the way he's draped over that twig. Squirrels are amazingly flexible. They're also surprisingly shy, or at the very least reluctant to meet one's eye. A squirrel on a tree trunk can play endless hide-and-seek with a human, always edging just out of view as the frustrated human walks round and round trying to spot him.

I admire squirrels for their balance and grace, their thrift and industry, their dedication to storing up food for the winter, and their ability to have fun while doing so.

Thus far, the squirrels are burying most of their acorns in the ground. According to local lore this betokens a mild winter. I hope local lore is correct!

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  1. I hope your local lore is correct. We have very many berries here which seems to foretell the opposite. I wonder what imagined slight you had committed to the squirrel? A question if I may? What type of Oak tree do those leaves and acorns come from?

  2. I would love to see your Squirrel Show!!! I never realized they had such personalities!!! It even sounds like you have a diva!! lol!!!

    I love your acorn pictures!! I've never seen acorns in real life and so they have always held a special appeal...probably from all the stories and books where little people lived in them!! :)

  3. What an entertaining critter you have just outside your door!

    Here, we can sometimes tell when the first big storm is due by the way the geese and elk behave. I think we're going to have a change soon, just by the way the geese are gathering, but I don't know that it will be drastic. Just a change.

    It's fun to watch the animals and see their personalities as well as determine what the sky future holds.

  4. Toffeeapple - after a quick Internet search, I'm pretty sure it's a white oak. The bark and leaves match the description.

    Laura - I love acorns too. I always want to gather them up and make something with them (but I don't).

    Deb - we watch the geese too, but the sandhill cranes are an even better indicator of cold weather to come. I'm already dreading the first frost!


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