I have no idea where squirrels fall on the ecological ladder. I mean, they’re just overgrown rodents with bushy tails who can alternately entertain and frustrate you.
Let’s deal with the frustration first. In rural America, these furry friends like to romper across the road. Normally, that’s not a problem for drivers … until the squirrel suddenly changes direction, altering the trajectory between rodent and car. The result … a sudden brake that sometimes — but not always — works. The frustrating thing is most of the time, the stu… no, I’m going to be nice, the intellectually challenged squirrel already made it to the other side before unexplainably reversing direction.
And who among us have not been plunged into darkness because one of our furry friends decided to chew into a power line? What were they thinking? There’s a nut hidden under the plastic covering? And remember, squirrels don’t have nine lives!
My personal frustration with squirrels happened in urban Maryland. Our townhouse had a back deck overlooking green space — trees and bushes that harbored many bright birds like orioles, jays, cardinals and songbirds. We figured it would be nice to keep these colorful chirpers coming, so we purchased a feeder, placed it on the railing and loaded it with songbird-attracting seeds and nuts. The squirrels feasted.
Karen suggested we put the feeder on a pole. Good point. So I did … and the squirrels would climb up the pole, despite the fact it was polished aluminum.
My next bright idea actually worked … for awhile. I basted the pole with Crisco. The squirrels would try to scurry up the pole, but slide down. Success, I thought. But since they are stu…, sorry, intellectually challenged, they kept trying, clawing at the Crisco or waiting until the sun softened the already soft goo until they could get down to the pole … and up they would go. And they had a certain glisten to them, too, so you knew who the culprits were.
During this escapade, one of the squirrels had the bright idea of jumping off the roof onto the feeder while his friends labored with the pole. Of course, when he landed, the feeder started shaking out all of its delicacies to the waiting mouths below. The jump became the standard from that point on.
I gave up. Squirrels 1. Humans and birds 0.
But the frustration often morphed to entertainment. Watching the resilience of the squirrels became entertainment. I can’t count the number of times Karen said to me or I said to her, “You won’t believe what the squirrels did today.”
Even their erratic road crossing antics brought me guffaws. I remember one day when a squirrel successfully crossed the road — sidewalk to sidewalk — when something spooked it and back he went … right into a telephone pole. He shook it off, climbed the pole and crossed by wire.
Often in the morning in the gazebo, I watch or at least listen to the squirrels cavorting around. Usually there are two and I’m not sure if they’re playing tag or if it’s foreplay. One morning I watched as the pair zipped from the roof on the porch next door, to the fence, down the fence to the driveway, back up the fence, onto the garage roof, zig zagging back and forth to a tree, going down the tree by circling it, across the back yard, up another tree (also in a circular route) onto my garage, back to the tree, down to the back yard and up to their nest in another tree. I thought to myself, “Wow, squirrels are easily entertained.” Then I realized I watched as the pair zipped from the roof on the porch next door, to the fence, down the fence to the driveway, back up the fence, onto the garage roof, zig zagging back and forth to a tree, going down the tree by circling it, across the back yard, up another tree (also in a circular route) onto my garage, back to the tree, down to the back yard and up to their nest in another tree. What’s that say about me?
The other morning, my two furry friends climbed a staff that hosts chimes. Normally, there’s at least a little breeze so the chimes offer a soothing melodic backdrop. But this particular morning, it was dead still and chimes were quiet. There they were, up at the top of the staff looking around. I still can’t figure out what drew them to the staff … the prospect of hidden food? … the quiet? … just for sport?
I have no idea where squirrels fall on the ecological ladder. I mean, they’re just overgrown rodents with bushy tails who can alternately entertain and frustrate you. And maybe that’s the purpose they were created for.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Diplomacy is the art to getting someone else to have your way.