October is Squirrel Awareness Month. What's that? Oh, you knew? Well, then.
Be that as it may, perhaps this might be the perfect time to share a tale, or even a tail, or two, regarding several squirrels of which I have become aware. Why not take a minute today to be more aware of the squirrels in your world? Do your part to avoid Squirrel Unawareness.
Squirrel Unawareness: the tragic consequences.
Squirrel FAIL #1
It's kind of unusual to see an animal screw up, don't you think? We take it for granted that a cat will land on its feet, or that a squirrel will run along power lines without a care in the world. Not so.
One day, as my father and I sat on his front porch, talking about this and that, we paused to watch just such a squirrel. He ran along the power line, seemingly without a care. He reached a telephone pole and stepped onto the cross-beam.
ZISH! A flash of blue light, the sound of arcing electricity, the dull thud of squirrel hitting ground. The end.
You don't see that every day.
Squirrel FAIL #2
I have been blessed with an enormous oak tree: home and grocery for numerous squirrels. I like to watch them. They're at least as interesting as anything on TV. Still, they usually just go about their squirreling. This includes chasing each other around for reasons known to them alone.
The cable line from my house runs about eighteen feet above the street below. One morning, as I watched one squirrel chase another onto it, the chaser inexplicably lost his footing. He fell to the street, landing with a sickening thwack. It sounded like two pounds of raw meat falling eighteen feet onto concrete.
Which kind of makes sense, if you think about it.
He lay in the road, unmoving. Chasee descended the oak across the road, looking curiously at Chaser. I could almost hear a tiny voice:
"Al? Yo, AL! You ok? Hey Al! Can you hear me?"
Finally, Al revived a bit. Groggily, he got to his feet. He stumbled off to the side of the road and sat there stunned. Eventually, he came around and climbed back into the trees. More carefully.
Or so it seemed.
"What the hell is that ?!?" I heard my wife cry from the kitchen. She pointed out the kitchen window to an odd gray critter in the yard I didn't recognize. Too small to be an opossum, plus it was daytime. Too puffy to be a rat. It looked like some sort of alien hedgehog.
It looked at me. Then, it slowly let down its tail, which had been lying flat along its spine, covering its head. Squirrel. Oh.
He stood up, and gave me a wink and a wave.
"What the hell is that ?!?" I heard my wife cry from the dining room. On the back porch, unmoving, lay some sort of animal-thing. From the window, it almost looked like a lizard: not too likely during a cold, rainy March in Rhode Island. I went out to investigate.
Abandoned baby squirrel. I figured we should give it some time, maybe an hour or so. Perhaps Mom would come and get him. I'm sure they have ways of managing. I mean they do, right?
An hour later he was still there. My wife called animal control and was referred to a licensed squirrel rehabilitator. This struck me as a little odd. There seems to be no shortage of squirrels. Then again, why not? I can think of worse hobbies. Calls were made. Pickup was arranged.
Since the squirrel was now officially our guest, it seemed he should be taken in out of the rain and put to bed. The which I did.
Squirrels Gone Bad
I always blamed the local kids for our smashed pumpkins: Occam's razor and all. Not anymore. One fall, we were blessed with a surfeit of pumpkins, enough of them that I decorated the back porch as well as the front.
I was sitting at the table, drinking my coffee, when the two furry thugs arrived. They looked around nervously. There was evil in their beady little eyes. Teaming up, they rolled a pumpkin onto its side, pushed it to the edge of the stairs, then over. The buffet now open, they descended to feed. I opened the slider. Pausing, they stared at me.
One of them gave me the finger.
Squirrel FAIL #3
For some, the entire purpose of life is to serve as an example to others. Poor Mr. Squirrel. Not much left of him. Yet his tail remained for a week, almost vertical, waving in the breeze along Broad Street. I thought of my youngest sister, returning home from preschool one day, desperate to perform a new song for us. I could almost hear her four year-old voice singing: Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, shake your bushy tail.
I know I'm not the only one who noticed this gruesome display.
Just Like Chicken
Over the weekend, Mr. Squirrel, or what was left of him, vanished. Where did he go? Well, I can't say for sure. I do know he met his end by an eclectic little sandwich shop. You know the kind of place: where the only thing flakier than the home-baked rolls is the counter help?
Interesting specials, no? Relax. It's a joke.
Well, there you have it. In honor of Squirrel Awareness Month, seven tales, and one tail, of squirrels I have known. Why not raise a toast to the Sciuridae? May I suggest New Glarus Brewing Company's Fat Squirrel Nut Brown Ale?
Whether you love our little furry friends or think they are nothing but tree-rats, I hope you've been entertained. And I know you will find the beer excellent. That alone should be worth something.