I threw off the blanket, even though I was ready to burrow back down for a few more minutes of snooze time. Then I remembered I had a mission, so I swung my legs over the side of the bed, stepped into my fuzzy slippers and headed down the hall.
The sweet smell of icing and a tantalizing peanutty aroma greeted my nose and, after I turned on the kitchen light, I saw 33 pairs of eyes staring at me.
Today would be a meet-n-greet to treat the ghouls and goblins at the Park.
As I sipped my coffee, using my index finger, I tapped lightly on some of the ghost cookies I made last night for the Halloween shoot with my furry friends. I was concerned the eyes, er … icing had thoroughly dried, so the cookies could be packed to go.
Hmm – I saw a few of the cookies had unintended beauty marks on them.
I mumbled to myself “I had better try one cookie to ensure it tastes good – after all, I wouldn’t want to harm any of my furry friends.” Well, that reasoning led to another cookie for good measure, then another, as I decided to forego my usual bowl of oatmeal and indulge in Nutter Butter Double Nutty cookies instead. Yep, I deemed them “safe” (and yummy) to feed to the squirrels.
I grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures before boxing up the treats, then got ready to leave as soon as it was light outside. I hesitated, thinking aloud “so, do I keep the unadorned cookies for me or take them along for the squirrels who are purists and disdain ghosts?” I kept them for a bad day.
I pulled into my usual parking place at Council Point Park, hopped out, then with a flourish, I shook the sheet to eliminate any static and swiftly slipped it over my head, positioning the makeshift eye holes to match my eyes. Perfect! To avoid a trip-and-fall along the trail, I had trimmed a sizable length off the bottom, thus exposing my walking shoes. “Well, Parker will know me for sure – he’ll recognize those shoes, maybe even his own scent” I thought as I reached over and grabbed the box from the front seat. I hooked a bag containing peanuts and sunflower seeds over my shoulder and under the sheet, so I could deal with the cookies first. With the tip of my shoe, I nudged the door shut, clicked the remote and pocketed the keys in one fell swoop, then proceeded to my first stop – the pavilion picnic tables.
If you’ve never seen how Parker sniffs my shoes and then puts his paws on the toes, well here’s one of many photos I’ve taken of him doing this.
Without missing a beat, Parker scampered over to scope out me and/or the treats.
As he is fond of doing, my favorite squirrel buddy Parker first waylaid me in the parking lot – yep, it’s all about him sometimes. He is the Park Town Crier when Linda, a/k/a “The Peanut Lady” arrives. That is, after he takes care of Parker first, then it’s okay to alert the rest of the crowd to my arrival.
Parker, nose to the air like a bird dog, sniffed appreciatively and it didn’t take long before he zipped over to my side, no doubt lured by the wafting scent of the open bag of peanuts still under my sheet. He started dancing around my feet as I was lining up the ghost cookies on the picnic table and, after I set the box down on a nearby table, he jumped onto the picnic bench seat.
I glanced down to see a sad face, much like a dog’s pout as it watches you fixing yourself a tasty sandwich without offering him/her a bite.
I looked down at him and said “I’ll just be a few minutes honey – today’s our Halloween shoot and Linda needs to set up.”
“Cool – what did you bring us – mini Snickers bars?” he asked. (When it comes to food, Parker’s radar is always up and he never forgets a promise if it involves food. ‘Twas a pity my peanut pal was way too short to see the picnic table top.)
“Nope. It’s a surprise” I told him.
“Linda, by the way, my main squeeze Penelope said to tell you she’s gone gluten free, whatever that means.”
I whirled around and in a stern voice said “Parker, you can share your peanuts with Penelope – I’m not running a restaurant here for goodness sake!”
“Okay, you can give me extra peanuts for Penelope – I know I’m your favorite and if you hand over extra peanuts, I’ll pose extra nice like I did with my Valentine cookie a few years ago.”
He continued “… or my Christmas cookie – your blogger friends liked that pose too!”
“Parker, that’s blackmail. You can give YOUR peanuts to Penelope and have an extra ghost cookie.”
Without missing a beat, the little bugger said “no way – those are my peanuts – I’m not sharing!”
“But Penelope is your mate, the mother of your kits!” I said, championing Penelope’s cause … well, just because of the sisterhood and all.
Parker countered, saying “but I know your blogging friends think I’m the cutest squirrel with the most personality.” And then he added slyly“I’ll give you lots of bang for your buck for extra peanuts!”
Bartering with a squirrel – I had surely lost my mind!
Okay … it’s ‘go time’ – enjoy!
I had laid out the cookies, but NOT the peanuts nor seeds yet as they would go for the familiar and I’d be left tapping my toe waiting for them to investigate the cookies. I did flip one cookie upside down so they would recognize a Nutter Butter.
I fished my camera out of my pocket to take some photos just as several little buddies slowly approached the pavilion area.They were cautious, especially the smaller gray and black squirrels, peering over the table top, then creeping slowly along as if these strange beings should leap up from the table and attack them. Each brave squirrel approached, then backed off. They probably would take their cue from Parker.
Parker ran over, grabbed a cookie and began to nibble on it as you see below.
Soon he scooted away to bury it before I asked too much more of him.
A few minutes later, he returned for a second helping. I put a cookie on the pavilion floor, then he sniffed the cookie, grabbed it …
… then, still in a squirrelly snit, again he held his ghost cookie upside down as you see up top and below.
I laid out peanuts to get a few photos. Having seen Parker score a cookie, this little black squirrel approached the treats apprehensively and decided peanuts were safer than that ol’ ghost cookie.
Eventually, curiosity got the better of this little squirrel, so he/she crept across the table to grab a creepy-looking ghost cookie.
Time to move along … there were other hungry mouths to feed.
I headed to the Safe Haven Tree, unfortunately not yet bare enough to get great pics of the munchin’ munchkins, but with our upcoming weather a tad erratic with the threat of a wintry mix on the way, it was best to stay ahead of Mother Nature’s moods. So I spread out ghost cookies, peanuts and seeds and paused for photos.
The cookies weren’t a hit right away and seeds, not peanuts, ruled. The cookies would be consumed after I was long gone.
Unfortunately to make these three stops, it’s a mile-long venture and by the time I’ve reached the third stop, there is always action at Stop #1 that I don’t want to miss – to get some fun shots, truly I needed a clone, or just had to be quick. At the third stop, I did not leave cookies … I wanted the squirrels (and birds) to grab a snack and not linger due to any hawks.
As mentioned before, I’ve learned over the years, that holding back peanuts and seeds guarantees my squirrelly friends will at least poke at their Nutter Butters, apples or pumpkins and take a few bites, albeit swiveling their heads to search for peanuts to take “to go” especially in Fall, as it’s all about munch one now, bury the rest. That didn’t work, so I gave in to get shots and had to be creative as you see below.
The cookie initially had no appeal …
… so I sweetened the pot with peanuts.
A black squirrel seized on that combo, not touching the cookie.
However, when I returned about a half-hour later, only crumbs remained and the leaf was flipped over.
I walked two or three miles getting these photos for this Halloween post. Now for your treat … click here for my Halloween wish for you!