As the days grow colder and Winter weather is on the horizon, the squirrels become desperate to create a cache for Winter. Of course, I want to help my furry friends all I can so they can gather and stash. I can relate … after all, throughout the month of October, I made countless trips to the grocery store to stock up on shelf-stable provisions to eliminate trips to crowded Meijer, as COVID-19 stats continue to climb here in Michigan.
Perhaps I walk a fine line between lavishing the squirrels with peanuts, while simultaneously providing ongoing photo ops for myself. I assure you my intentions are not self-serving and it is a win-win for both of us.
I was strolling in the Park in early October, long before the leaves began fluttering down, when, in the distance, I saw a Fox squirrel sitting on top of a park bench.
I couldn’t tell if it was Parker, and, as I approached that bench, the squirrel did not run over to greet me, nor stomp on my shoe and beg for peanuts, so I figured it was either a newbie to the Park, or a youngster, not brave enough, without benefit of its brethren being around, to approach me. Usually the Fox squirrels are fearless, while the gray and black squirrels are always skittish and reluctant to venture too close to me.
I am amused when I toss down peanuts that they obviously want, but they are fearful of coming too close to me, the tall hulking human who looms large. I can almost hear the gears in their brains clicking fast and furiously about my presence. Nowadays, they might even be thinking “what if it is a ploy … you know, a snatch-and-grab, like that flying squirrel trafficking ring in Florida last month that we heard about?”
Sometimes the squirrels study me and I daren’t make any sudden move without them retreating, that is, until hunger pangs, or their nut-gathering efforts overtake any fear of their human benefactor. Then my furry friends will give me and the peanuts on the path wide berth as they calculate how quickly they may zoom in and snatch a peanut … or two or three, only if I am deemed “safe” to be around.
Your Roving Reporter is always on the lookout for cute squirrels.
So, back to my Saturday stroll, when I saw the Fox squirrel sitting on a park bench a few paces away from me and I figured “no problem – it will stay there and perhaps I’ll get a cute shot like this photo of Parker taken on one of the memorial benches a few years ago.”
However, that idea quickly backfired when the squirrel took one look at me and sped up the tree to the highest branch. Really?! Note to self: “look in the mirror when you get home … are you looking especially scary today – it is the season of the witch after all.”
I really wasn’t fazed in the least by this bad behavior, so I drew the camera out of its pouch with my left hand and reached into the bag of peanuts with my right hand and quickly tossed a handful down, but not on the ground … on the park bench in two different spots.
Of course peanuts always pique their interest.
Meanwhile, my furry friend hovered nearby, scoping me out from the tree branch. “C’mon sweetie” I cooed softly to her. “Come get these peanuts I put here for you; they’re in two different spots – take your pick. C’mon down and you can feast while I take your picture.” That squirrel looked at me a bit dumbfounded – clearly she was a newbie and couldn’t grasp this concept of peanuts on the park bench.
I coaxed her a little more, while she continued to practice social distancing from the tree branch. My patience was wearing thin, even though it was a Saturday and I had all the time in the world. I told her “well, so be it – I’ll wait a few more minutes, otherwise Linda will be on her way as there are other hungry squirrels to feed who are more trusting.” Well, whether my furry pal comprehended what I said (highly unlikely) or curiosity and hunger got the best of her, she quickly descended from her perch and scampered over to the bench. (“Now, we’re finally getting somewhere” I thought.)
So take a look at what happened next. This would have made a great slideshow, but the slideshow feature in the Block Editor is not great, so here goes:
As you can see, I did not convince Ms. Squirrel to climb onto the graffiti-riddled park bench to get those peanuts – instead, she rationalized it was safer and easier to simply retrieve them from beneath the mesh metal seat. Hmm.
By now, I couldn’t keep from muttering to myself “really – you were just up on the seat – in fact you were sitting on the top of the back of the seat, so it’s not like you’re afraid of heights, or you’ve never climbed up here before – gimme a break!”
Nope, she continued relentlessly poking a claw through the mesh to retrieve a peanut with no success, as she went from one side of the bench to the other. Yes I thought of throwing out some more peanuts, but no, that was downright silly. I realized that although I still retain my moniker of “The Peanut Lady” apparently “The Squirrel Whisperer” not so much.
I stayed a little longer, as I could afford to linger and it was a gorgeous Fall day. As I tapped my foot, camera in hand, I remained hopeful she’d come to her senses, but she finally scampered away, dejection written all over her furry face.
Wait, there is a “take two” in this scenario.
Just as I decided to move on, (away from all this foolishness), suddenly an inquisitive black squirrel came bounding over and approached the park bench, sniffing appreciatively from ground level, then decided to have “a go at” those peanuts.
Just like her counterpart, this squirrel poked along the bottom, even stood up on its hind legs to check out the goods, then, if it did not persist in trying to pull a peanut through the mesh … nope, that was not happening, as these are Hampton Farms Jumbo Peanuts, usually a double nut, if not a triple nut inside the shell. So, slipping them through the tiny holes didn’t happen as you see in this brief sequence of photos.
After poking and pulling, this squirrel similarly gave up, and, if a squirrel could shrug its shoulders, it would have done so.
I felt badly and was about to toss some peanuts on the pathway and just leave, when squirrel #1 returned to give it another go. I watched and waited while she positioned herself just right, latched onto a peanut with one sharp claw and gave it a tug …
… nothing happened, so she circled around again, determined to give it the “old college try” …
… then, without further ado, she leaped onto the bench like she’d never been there before. Well “yay, you go girl!” I told her.
Shaking my head I could not help but say “I dunno about you – why didn’t you just do that the first time – are you daft – you give women a bad name!”