Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Point of View

        I arrived home one day five years ago, in the spring, to find four floppy baby squirrels on my porch inhibiting my entrance by crawling up my pantlegs. Since then, I have longed for a squirrel-free yard. I've not appreciated the high pitched scritching, and their relentless attempts to enter our home through miniscule gaps in the roofline. Especially despised were the red squirrels -their territorial hissing, their attempts to intimidate me, to have me dash to make it into my own car. Did they think I might one day drive away and not return? That they'd finally have the yard to themselves?

The Rocket
          But this summer, after watching one red squirrel daily, getting to know his personality, all that has changed. I've decided I like him. I admire him. I call him "Rocket", "Rocky" for short. That little dart makes me smile. I pointed out his habits to my husband and now we discuss him like a family member. This is what I see: Rocky thinks he is Lord of the Manor. He strives to rid our yard of every other member of the Sciuridae family. He runs the perimeter of the property, leaping from branches, slipping along the rail pipe fence and negotiating wires. He is a rocket. From his lordly perch high in the maple, he is ever watchful. No grey or black squirrels are allowed on our property. The tree nuts, keys, and cones are his. Somehow this non-mortgage payer thinks he owns it all.

        We have a young black walnut tree at the side of the house. This tree bears large, round nuts that look somewhat like limes. I have seen Rocky scale the tree and systematically shake down as many nuts as possible and then start a run, carrying one at a time from the side of the house to hide his cache in the thick evergreens that border that back of the property. To do this, he has to lift and carry something that is about one third the size that he is. The nut is bigger than his head, but his sharp incisors hold the nut firm as he uses his straggly tail to balance his way along. Before he hides the core of the nut, he usually sits in the maple tree and gnaws off the outer shell. But a few times, he brought still-green nuts, outer cores intact and displayed them on an evergreen branch about five feet off the ground. They were there for all to see. My imagination tells me that Rocky showed them to us. He must feel a sense of accomplishment and pride as he shows us his wares.

        At any rate, we've become accustomed to each other. He no longer hisses when we come into the yard, but he goes about his business at his usual break-neck pace. He watches and we watch. I find myself concerned when I've not seen him for a couple of days. Then there he is again, running his course. Why this is a delight to me, I don't know. But I'm glad of the change of heart toward this little creature in God's care.


  1. We haven't had a red squirrel this summer, but many of his larger cousins feasting on beech nuts, acorns and walnuts which they especially enjoy hiding in the planters. They don't mind turfing a begonia out to make room for a walnut. Admire your change of heart, Michele.