I have a newfound appreciation for squirrels after this weekend.
Before, I was never a fan of these rodents. I dissed them here on this very blog. Called them “rats with bushier tails.” One blogging friend, Ron, happens to love squirrels. I always thought he was nuts (pardon the pun), and did not see the appeal. My beef with the critters began when I hung a bird feeder, and had to deal with the pesky little varmints stealing the food intended for my feathered friends. Bird seed ain’t cheap, and I didn’t appreciate shelling out all this dough only to have it stolen by squirrels. So I began chasing them away from the feeder anytime I caught them in the act, even going so far as to squirt them with a water bottle normally reserved for my cat, whenever she breaks the house rules. Couple that with the fact that a squirrel got into my grandmother’s house through a chimney once, several years back, and wreaked all kinds of havoc, apparently chewing things up and causing damage. An exterminator was called in, I believe. Maybe now you can understand why I wasn’t fond of the creatures.
Yesterday morning, I glanced outside and found a squirrel practically doing contortions to get to the sunflower seeds in the bird feeder. Not cool. As is my custom, I threw open the screen door, and ran at him, shouting and waving my arms.
Only, he didn’t run away.
In fact, he was so casual about the whole thing – he stopped eating and calmly made his way down the patio beam from which the feeder is suspended – that I easily could have grabbed him. Which has always been a secret fear of mine. What happens if you chase something and it doesn’t run away? What if you actually can catch it? Then what? If I grabbed the squirrel, it might have bitten me. It could have been rabid. We might have had a Cujo situation on our hands, which would’ve sucked less than a week before the wedding. I’d hate to be reciting my vows whilst foaming at the mouth. So I skidded to a halt and just stared at the creature, having no idea what to do next.
And then, this wild animal – who was unexpectedly trusting – actually approached me. I think I took a step backwards at that point, confused. There’s a delicate balance in the battle of man v. nature, and we are supposed to be top dog. This brave little squirrel didn’t get the memo, leaving me hesitant. He came right up to me, within inches of my foot, and looked up at me with dark and pleading eyes. Remember when The Grinch had a revelation, and his heart suddenly grew three sizes that day? In that moment, that’s what happened to me.
“Quick dear, grab my nuts!” I called excitedly to Tara.
Fortunately she didn’t take me literally, and opted instead for a canister of dry roasted peanuts we happened to have in the pantry. We sat down on the patio, tossed a few into the yard, and our squirrel quickly gobbled them up. He wanted more, and we decided to entice him with a handout. I still didn’t believe he would actually take food from our outstretched hands, but…
He sure did.
Displaying absolutely no shyness and not the slightest bit of fear, the squirrel fed repeatedly from both our outstretched hands. I found it all pretty remarkable, and a little thrilling. I’d never fed a beast of the wild with my bare hands before. I felt a oneness with nature in that moment, like I was connected with the universe on some sort of higher plane.
And I stopped hating squirrels.
I mean, how could you? With a face like that?! Look at the little fella.
His trustworthiness was rewarded with a literal handout, and for one morning at least, he went away with a full belly.
He came back a couple more times while I was sitting out there enjoying my coffee, dancing around my feet again, hoping for more food, but I didn’t want to spoil him. He was back again this morning, too – he came right up to the screen door and peered inside, to the consternation of my cat, whose flattened ears and twitching tail belied her desire to take a chomp out of our newfound friend.
Or, more likely, she’d be like me when I caught up to the squirrel, and didn’t have a clue what to do next.
It’s hard to say whether feeding a squirrel by hand was the highlight of our weekend, or the 8-mile bike ride Tara and I embarked upon Saturday morning. We’ve both got bikes that have been hanging up in the garage for over a year, gathering dust, unused. I hadn’t ridden mine in years. We’d talked about hitting the bike path along Burnt Bridge Creek for some time, but always found excuses not to go. Fresh out of excuses and eager for a bit of fresh air, we loaded the bikes in the back of my SUV and hit the trail. It’s a nice, long concrete path that follows the course of a meandering creek for miles, through wetlands and soccer fields and apartment complexes and even, at one point, a cool swath of forest. We had a great time, and look forward to doing it again. Once the weather decides to cool down, we should have plenty of opportunities to do so.
In the meantime, there’s only one thing on our minds: the fact that we are getting married this week.
It’s not every day you can make that statement. “Unless you’re my ex-husband,” Tara said, and that might just have been the zinger of the year. And it’s true. He’s up to wife # 3 now. They just keep coming out of the woodwork.
Whatever. That’s his cross to bear. All I care about is: 5 more days!!
- Squirrel! Squirrel! (5280lensmafia.wordpress.com)
- Squirrels rant (pineapplesnlime.wordpress.com)
- Our Backyard Friends – Jason’s Amazing Squirrel Photos (pattystamps.typepad.com)