There was increased activity on the perimeter path yesterday and today. Not only has the warmer weather brought all the regular walkers back from their basement treadmills and the local shopping malls, but I believe every single squirrel at Council Point Park was out of their trees and hustlin’ for peanuts.
Having just passed the five-year anniversary of walking at my favorite nature nook, I’ve come to the conclusion that squirrel mamas and papas teach their young ‘uns to hustle for peanuts as soon as they are old enough to “work the trail” … yup, pointers are passed on to the next generation, so they know all the savvy tricks to appeal to animal lovers. Cute antics like standing on your haunches with a pleading look, scrambling on all fours while flicking that furry tail, or even dancing around on your benefactor’s shoes, are all moves that squirrel magnets like myself find endearing. Endearing translates to doling out extra peanuts for those select few that try harder.
I’ll bet that squirrel parents even teach their wee ones how to play both ends against the middle.
I understand the art of “playing both ends against the middle” because, as an only child, I had to blaze new trails when one parent said “no” as there was no older sibling for me to protest that they had rights, thus so should I. Instead, if the relief requested was denied, I’d hustle over to the other parent to plead my case/state my request for whatever was happening at that time. Of course, I thought I was pretty smart until one day my mom said “Linda, are you playing both ends against the middle with me? What did your father say?” My response was “what does that mean?” then to pretend that notion had never entered my mind, but I think they were both wise when I resorted to such antics.
Likewise, the squirrels try that same trick. There are two other people who feed them peanuts. The two gentleman usually arrive around the same time or shortly after me. Sometimes I’ll see those furry pals chowing down on the opposite side of the walking loop, but they’ll come scurrying over to my side like they are absolutely starving, just as soon as I set foot on the perimeter path, or even in the parking lot, they’ll hunt me down. My little furry friends are fickle sometimes.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned a passel of squirrels who were swarming around. People smiled and remarked on their presence since there were more than usual, and the same thing happened again this morning.
Yesterday, Mike, a fellow walker and another squirrel magnet, ended up at the beginning of the trail at the same time as me. However, he was coming from the opposite side. So we stopped to chit-chat, and in our respective peripheral vision each of us saw a few squirrels moseying over to us. Just like Pavlov’s dog, we simultaneously opened our bags of peanuts in anticipation of the “rush” of furry pals. Sure enough, soon a contingent of squirrels raced over.
But, those squirrels were a bit perplexed, and I could almost hear the gears clicking in their minds: “wow, this is awkward, who do we go to first and will they both give us peanuts?”
We were laughing as the squirrels surrounded us. First, four, six, then a few more, until soon there were a dozen squirrels circling us. Mike kept saying “I’ve never seen anything like this – where did they all come from?” It was amusing and I took some photos of our furry friends as they darted to and fro. I was able to only get about four in a picture at one time. Those squirrels are faster than the shutter speed on the camera because many of the shots ended up as images of snouts or tails only, and some were just the asphalt trail with no squirrels at all in the picture.
Then I took a few photos of Mike, who asked “want a picture of me feeding them by hand?” I gasped and said “you do that?” “Sure, all the time” he said, “they eat right out of my hand.” I’m a little timid when it comes to hand-feeding, even with my favorite pal Parker, but here is Mike enticing a few squirrels to come up to him.
Then another photo of him feeding one of our peanut pals.
So, the squirrels were double-dippin’ but who could blame them? It’s was an overlong Winter and a wicked Spring for all of us, so I’ll overlook the pushy ploys by those peanut pals.
I’ll leave you with this quote:
Animals have a knowing when someone has a good heart through their vibrations and feel safe being close to that human ~ Thomas Barrett