This week, just for my friend Gail, I'm scurrying over to the sillier side of my nest of blog ideas, and I'm going to talk about squirrels! Okay, confession time: I love the little tree rats. I can't help it - they're cute! If they breathed fire and chewed holes in the tires of my car, I would probably gaze out the window and say, "Awww, look, they're breathing fire and eating the tires off my car! How adorable!"
As it is, we can count ourselves pretty lucky that they don't do much more than hop gracefully across the grass, delicately bury acorns in the ground to perpetuate the tree population, and occasionally try to commit suicide by dashing into the middle of the street and stopping right in front of our automobiles. (Are they really addle-brained, or is it some kind of squirrel gang initiation ritual? Who can say?)
Of course, I grew up in the suburbs, so I have the luxury of regarding squirrels as Nature's fuzzy little tree sprites. I never had to deal with the nuisance side of them: the attic-infesting, electrical-wire-chewing, flower-bulb-stealing aspect of their natures. If I had, I might not have felt so generous of spirit when it comes to the little buggers.
"Generous?" You may ask. "What do you mean by 'generous'? Surely you don't mean that you...."
Yes, I have to admit: I feed the squirrels. See this little guy to the left, clinging tightly to the tree, body taut with awareness, beady little eyes fixed? He's looking at me, through my front window, and waiting for me to toss out a handful of walnuts.
See, every so often, a squirrel moves into our neighborhood who is an absolute mastermind when it comes to getting free food. This one here was one of those. He would climb up into the tree and watch me as I worked at my desk. When I moved or looked like I was about to get up, he could come to attention, staring at me - hypnotizing me, you could even say! - and I would be helpless to resist. Into the kitchen I would go, where I would grab the bag of walnuts and take them outside to obediently place a neat little pile of yummy treats on the front stoop.
Of course, squirrels don't live forever, and both of the bewhiskered tyrants pictured above are gone now, probably burying acorns in Heaven and filching walnuts from Saint Peter. But I'm sure that one day soon I'll look out my window and find a greedy little face staring back at me, mentally telegraphing the message, "feed me!" In the meantime, I'm content to watch the antics of their less-demanding breatheren, including the one below. I took this picture two weeks ago on a particularly hot afternoon. Never having seen a squirrel strike this particular pose, I felt that it had to be preserved for posterity. Hope you like it.
So where do you stand on the great squirrel debate?