While I was gardening

The art of gardening and the science of life.

Elmer Fudd missed again.

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I’ve written about squirrels many times but haven’t come close to using up all the stories I have about these cute, irritating, not-so-bright little creatures.  And autumn, more than any other season, is when squirrels engage in their most creative, elaborate, and thoughtless activities.

Imagine yourself as a squirrel for a moment – you see a gorgeous corn cob that your friendly, well-trained gardener just placed in the ground feeder.  Imagine pulling that tasty corn cob out of the ground feeder (no easy task), trying to drag it to your den, and seeing it roll rapidly down the sidewalk away from you.  (You’re pretty sure you hear the gardener laughing.)

Imagine for a moment (again, as a squirrel) that your friendly gardener has filled the ground feeder with scrumptious nuts and seeds with the intent of feeding the resident crow, a few jays, and countless small birds.  Of course you would feel welcome to help yourself.  But when you get to the feeder, you find a much larger, much wider squirrel who has parked his ample self smack in the middle of the feeder and who won’t let you get within jumping distance of the bounty.  That’s not nice.  You take a few small steps towards the feeder (coming in from the side hoping not to be seen) but faster than a Cooper’s hawk on the tail of a sparrow the big guy’s after you and you find yourself being chased in circles around the feeder.  No matter how fast you run you can’t get any closer to lunch.  So you make a lunge towards the feeder but the big guy turns fast and is on top of you in a heart-beat and you’ve got no place to go but up . . . straight up and then down the sidewalk again.  But you don’t quit.

Imagine that the next time you decide to come in from behind and you’re getting close to the feeder – close enough to hear the big guy crunching on those treats – and when you’re within a claws’ length of the feeder he spins around to face you, lets loose with some hostile chattering, and before you realize what’s happened, you’re down the sidewalk again.  Damn.

By this time, your temper’s up, your fuse is lit, your patience is gone, and you’re hungry!  Dangerous condition for a young squirrel.  You decide that this time you will come in from the top.  Quietly, and with great stealth, you climb upon the rockery ledge and sneak ever so slowly and quietly towards the feeder.  From this height, you are sure you can catch the big guy off-guard, especially since he’s busy.  You dig in, wiggle your behind, and take a flying leap through the air towards the feeder.  But while flying through the air, you see that this guy is a lot bigger than you realized, and that you really don’t have a plan once you land on top of him.  Not good.  And then he sees you.  Really not good.  And now you realize he’s angry – really angry.

Now imagine that the rest of your day is spent picking gravel out of your fur, counting your injuries, and listening to your empty stomach growl.  And you think, it’s going to be a long winter.



Author: dphare2014

Horticulturist, Lead Steward Carkeek Park Demonstration Gardens, Author

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