Squirrel whisperer: Use powers wisely
Monday, November 11, 2013 4:22 AM
A squirrel... a squirrel... my world for a squirrel.
Yeah, that squirrel heard some sweet talk below and is figuring if the distance to drop onto my head — to get to know me just a little bit better — is doable. Thank goodness he apparently figured it wasn't.
That might seem to have a vaguely familiar ring to it, right? Well, it's my lame takeoff of the much more famous phrase, "A horse, a horse... my kingdom for a horse."
And who's to say England's youngest prince might not come to utter those silly words some day, especially if crazy Uncle Prince Harry is leading playtime festivities?!?
I uttered those words the other day as I recumbently triked along Preston's in-town Trout Trail, as it's called. While pedaling, I heard incessant chatter of the wildlife sort in the trees above me.
When I was younger, I'm sure I would have attributed it to crows or some other at-the-time unhappy birds. But the great amount of time spent outdoors over the past 15 or so years hiking, camping and backpacking have taught me a thing or two. I now know that what I take to be feuding (or at least excitedly gossiping) squirrels can make one heck of a lot of bird-like noises.
I find squirrels a lot of fun to watch. They seem to run about like young kids with nary a care in the world - running, chasing, climbing straight up tree trunks or coming headfirst down, leaping among branches and more.
I think I've mentioned the following incidents before, but they're worth mentioning again. I once saw a squirrel attempting to haul a big, heavy, full ear of field corn up a tree near my place.
Once in a campground at Custer State Park in South Dakota, I was repacking items into the Jeep Cherokee when a squirrel got into my food and cooking container I had temporarily left sitting on the grass. The squirrel grabbed and took off with the end of a roll of paper towels, which, as you might guess, then began to unroll.
It must have looked like a cartoon as I yelled, "You come back here!" and the paper trail - this time a paper towel trail - kept increasing on the ground the farther away he ran. Finally, the pathway of paper towels ripped apart at one of the manufacturer's perforations and the squirrel scampered faster, now unencumbered by the rest of the roll. I laughed so hard as the squirrel kept going, taking what he could in a flowing white trail behind him.
Still another time, the squirrel's poor cousin - a little ground squirrel - launched himself at me when I was seated on the floor behind my tent screen, I'd been making noises through my front teeth. I liked to think they were squirrel-like noises that would make it look my way. Well, how was I to know they were apparently seductive "sweet squirrel nothings" that would attract him to me??!?
I guess I need to wield my squirrel power wisely. I remembered this as I heard the squirrel chatter that recent day on the trail. Still, I couldn't resist making what I imagined to be squirrel noises.
One squirrel was about 20 feet directly above me in a tree, nearing the end of a branch. He decidedly peered down at me with interest as I "spoke" to him.
"Oh, please, please, let him not drop down onto my head!" I prayed as I dared to sneak a look up when I realized it might be a bit too much interest.
Thank goodness, he stayed put, likely later telling his squirrel clan of the squirrelly human that left him so enthralled.
Me? I left with a photo of longing I won't soon forget - and a big reminder not to try to interact, even if it might at times seem I'm just a big squirrel at heart.