I decided to dust off my “Tuesday Musings” feature as it’s been awhile and, after all, it is “Squirrel Appreciation Day” – (no, I don’t make this stuff up ).
There really is such a day to appreciate and honor our furry friends – of course, some could say that the squirrels could likewise honor their benefactors, but, for now we’ll just call it even … hey, what are a few peanuts shared between friends? Those squirrels provide not just a smile or two for me, but plenty of fodder for this blog as you know.
Yep, they play me like a fiddle … I’m not complaining though.
I recently spotlighted Parker, the Fox squirrel I’ve been interacting with for several years at Council Point Park. I’ve taken the liberty of naming a few more squirrels at my favorite nature nook, but only because they are readily identifiable, like “Stubby” since half his tail is missing and “Midnight” who, for the longest time was the one and only black squirrel at this venue. There are now lots of little black squirrels running around the pathway, so I might have to retire that moniker.
The gray squirrels are petite, cute and fluffy – I’d like to scoop them up and cuddle them like you would a kitten or puppy.
I like when they stand up like these squirrels are doing, but they also amuse me with their funny antics as well, like this guy who looks too pooped to participate, even for peanuts.
A little pile of peanuts guarantees they’ll hold still for a shot … most of the time. The peanuts must pass the sniff test first however.
Then all systems are go!
All squirrels are cute and attentive and I’m sure their mamas taught them just what moves to make for optimum treats and attention. The Park squirrels are also known to beg at the first turn of the walking loop, only to run across the grassy donut area, to catch you as you complete that same loop, like they didn’t see you 15-20 minutes before. Yes, they think us peanut feeders are clueless.
I sometimes wonder if they love me for my peanuts or the endearments I offer up when I bend down to feed them … why not come runnin’ to someone who coos sweet nothin’s and calls you “Sweetie” or “Dumplin’” or “Honey” – yes, it’s all good if you’re a squirrel once the Peanut Lady arrives.
I’m not new to the rodeo with the neighborhood squirrels either.
Many years ago, the neighborhood squirrel we named “Sammy” came a’ callin’ every morning. He went to all the houses that supplied the treats, then when he was done on his rounds, he made a second appearance. Now there’s a squirrel who knew how to work a crowd.
Then there are the delightful squirrels who hang out in the many trees in the ‘hood near my house. I’ve named a few of them, as you know from my posts about “Grady the Gray Squirrel” and “Pitch” and “Tar” the two black squirrels who hang out at my house. Last year, several blog posts were devoted to the escapades of those three squirrels, a pair of cardinals and a blue jay or two, all who gathered on the front porch for peanuts every morning. It was all great fun, and made for some cute photos (once they all understood that when I was behind the storm door, there was a glass between us and I was not going to reach out and grab them and pull them inside). But, you’ll recall, that someone always has to be a party pooper and in this case, it was a big Fox squirrel (like Parker) who decided all the peanuts should go to him. He sat on those peanuts, only moving his big furry butt, to retrieve another peanut. If anyone came near, he chased them away. I worried the smaller squirrels would get run over in the street, so I ended the peanut feasting and had no intentions of resuming it in the Fall of 2019.
But, the chilly air in Fall, combined with Grady, who greeted me when I returned from my walk every day, made me change my mind. (I’m such a pushover when it comes to critters.) I started feeding Grady only in the backyard and said “shhhh – don’t tell the other squirrels!” But soon the peanuts were discovered, by not only squirrels and birds, but a raccoon. I don’t live in the woods but my neighbor reported seeing a fat raccoon in both of our yards. We had to invoke Plan “B” in short order. Grady and another gray squirrel, new to the ‘hood (and the house) seem to have an insatiable appetite for peanuts. I toss out about ten before I go on my walk and when I return, there they are again, mirror images of one another, sitting on haunches and swishing their fuzzy tails.
Friday when I returned from my walk, I had the camera in one hand and a few peanuts ready in the other hand, as I wanted Grady’s photo for this post. Right on cue, there he was, sittin’ pretty and waiting for his treat.
I dare you to walk past this plaintive look and shameless begging without tossing out a nut or two … yes, what’s a squirrel feeder to do, but oblige them?
In return for peanuts, I got a few photos of the little nipper.
I’m not the only one who falls prey to their cute antics.
Here’s a funny tale. In mid-December I stopped at the grocery store to load up on peanuts. I always try to have at least eight to ten bags on hand in the Winter, since I don’t like having to go out to the grocery store in the snow and I was starting to run low. Meijer usually carries three types and they are piled high in a big bin in the produce department. They don’t sell peanuts in bulk, just Hampton Farms cellophane bags of the raw, jumbo unsalted and the salted varieties. I always opt for the jumbo unsalted … the squirrels don’t need the extra sodium and I don’t want salt on my fingers while using the camera.
So on that day, all they had in stock were three bags of salted peanuts. I scooped those up and looked around for a stock person to check in the back for more. Trying to find a stock person during the Christmas season is not easy; the breathless stock boy confirmed there were no more peanuts in the backroom. Not good!
I mixed the salted peanuts with some I had on hand and shook off as much salt as I could, apologizing to my furry friends for each whoosh of salt that flew up as I tossed peanuts onto the path or sidewalk.
Flash forward to January 6th – I made it back to Meijer with just a handful of items on MY grocery list, but intending to stock up on peanuts for THEM. This time they only had raw peanuts – that is fine, they are for human consumption, so no worries about feeding them something funky. I piled 14 bags into my shopping cart. I figured that would last a long time as I still had some at home.
While strolling down the next aisle, a woman shopper came over to me and tapped me on the arm and said “I have to ask you – do you feed the squirrels too?” Yes, another kindred soul who has her favorite backyard “pets” just like I do. She pointed to her cart where a similar sized pile of cellophane bags took up a good portion of her cart. We shared a smile and a giggle, members of a secret club who dip into their “allowance” to feed their furry friends. She said “I stocked up today because last time they only had salted peanuts and I was not going to feed them that!” I said “wow – now I feel like a bad squirrel parent” and told her how I dusted off the salt and mixed them with the other peanuts on hand. She said she bought crackers and peanut butter and her squirrels liked that … so ask me if I went over and added Triscuits and peanut butter to my cart.
Nah, you don’t have to ask – you know I did! P.S. – it’s not a hardship adding those items as I eat that for a snack all the time.
[Squirrel Appreciation Day image provided by Pinterest]