Today is National Pumpkin Day, so what better day and way to feature last Sunday’s annual tendering of pumpkins (and peanuts … of course) to the munchkins at Council Point Park.
Every Fall I gather gourds to treat my furry friends …
… but I confess that I think I get a bigger kick out of this adventure than they do. Two bags of mini pumpkins were enough to treat all the squirrels, with one left at home to brighten up the corner cabinet in the kitchen, plus I set one aside for Grady too.
I suspect if I entered the Park with my two mesh bags of pumpkins and no peanuts, they’d roll their eyes and just amble away. So, that’s why I bring peanuts along too, because ‘tis the season for nut gathering and hiding, even though in a month or two, the ground will be frozen and snow-covered and the squirrels, by then roly-poly from that extra layer of fat Mother Nature provides them with for Winter, are left scratching their heads, wondering where the heck they buried those nuts and how to retrieve them? If they venture down from the cozy nest on snow-and-ice-free days at the Park, they will beg shamelessly when each walker bearing a Ziploc bag of peanuts steps onto the perimeter path. [For those newer followers, please understand that this Park does not plow, brush or sweep off the 1.9-mile walking path, so if we’ve had snow and ice, I may not always get to the Park. This is why I try to bulk up on peanuts in the Fall, so they are well fed.]
In an ideal world, I’d place pumpkins along the pathway and the squirrels would sit there, posing nicely against a backdrop of colorful leaves …
… with pretty, perfectly shaped leaves on the pathway, or lots of leaves fluttering down around them.
My furry pals would wait until I was done taking pictures, before scurrying off to bury their cache of nuts or running up into a tree with one peanut.
But alas, it is far from a perfect world when it comes to photographing squirrels and, after four years of giving out gourds every Fall, that is far from what actually transpires. So, I deliver pumpkins and peanuts at the same time. Perhaps the pumpkins will get a passing glance, but the peanuts are like a magnet, drawing my furry friends to them. After all, the peanuts are portable … they can be buried, carried up to the nest or simply noshed on.
I always dispense pumpkins on a weekend, when I have ample time to put treats out, walk a few laps, then return to take pictures as they’ve finished the peanuts and are ready to wrangle the mini-pumpkins (if I’m lucky). There were a few hang-ups this year and I ended up spending more than three hours at the Park to get this “assignment” completed. That was not a hardship as the weather was glorious, the trees were ablaze in color and it was Sunday, so I had all the time in the world.
Ever mindful of the Cooper’s Hawks which sometimes soar high above the Park, I glanced at the sky – whew, no hawks around that morning. Hawks are my furry friends’ enemy as you might imagine. So, I made “droppings” around the Park, immediately piquing some interest as I bent over to place pumpkins and peanuts on the perimeter path and on benches along the way.
Naturally, there was a mad dash for peanuts.
Yep, the pumpkins were ignored, just as I predicted.
Enter the Interloper.
We break bread with our family, friends and co-workers (and our dogs who whine incessantly for just a taste of what we’re eating). Here at Council Point Park, while the squirrels were in nut nirvana, a pile of peanuts and a pumpkin within easy reach of their small paws, Mr. Blue Jay was stewing up in his tree, as he looked down with disdain, and perhaps a little envy as well. If a thought bubble was over this Jay’s head, it would say “why should these furry critters have all the treats and I have none? I’d love me some peanuts too!”
So Mr. Jay was biding his time until the right moment, and, in the blink of an eye …
… this beautiful blue bird, swooped down to help himself to a nut or two. Ah, but he’s a wily one.
Mr. Jay got to ground level, but now … how to pack a peanut or two into that long, sharp beak. After studying those nuts, he decided one at a time was the way to go, so he took it up to a tree, noshed and then returned a few minutes later.
On his last trip, he taunted his peanut-retrieving prowess right in front of the squirrels …
… who watched this brave bird with stunned OMG expressions, as Mr. Jay scammed them out of THEIR peanuts.
And why can’t two different species break bread, er … peanuts, on the perimeter path? Because the squirrels’ Mamas never taught them to “share and share alike!”
But soon all the peanuts have been gobbled up or buried …
… so the squirrels returned to grab a gourd. Those furry pals who were around in prior years know what they are and took a big bite without hesitation.
But the younger squirrels were not sure what to make of these orangey orbs.
On the picnic table where I left a half-dozen or so mini pumpkins, there was a bit of trepidation.
First, there was the “sniff test” …
… then climbing from the seat to the top of the picnic table, inching ever closer, while wondering “will it hurt me?” Or “does it bite?”
Hope this post gave you a smile. So, how will you celebrate National Pumpkin Day? A slice or two of pie? Carving up your porch pumpkin? Toasting pumpkin seeds to snack on later?
I also share apples every Autumn with the munchkins, and I’ll be writing about that little adventure in an upcoming post.