On the Ups and Downs of Squirrel Life

Sebastian McDonald, C.P.
Sebastian McDonald, C.P.

Squirrels have a mixed reputation. On the one hand, many regard them as “cute”, full of life, with that curious way they have of looking at you, inquisitively, wondering what you are up to. Is it to be good or bad for them? So their muscles are always taught and drawn up tightly, especially if we are unfamiliar to them.   As we draw close to them, they wonder if we are up to tricks with them, whether for good or for bad. But they can be playful, if we have a bag of nuts that we scatter before them. And they engage in chatter with one another, which is engaging to some of their admirers.

a squirrel

On the other hand, there are others for whom squirrels are a nuisance, even somewhat threatening, because they can inflict a fair amount of damage with their incisor teeth and their sharp claws, which serve them well in climbing trees and scampering over limbs, leaping from one to the other. And they bear a facial resemblance to rats, at least for some people, which is reason enough to dislike them. Admittedly, they are troublesome, especially for gardeners, who are proud of their sprouting and budding flowers and food products as they emerge out of mother earth. Squirrels, along with rabbits, can prove quite troublesome for these growths.

Some people find squirrels good eating. Like rats, they are rodents, but, unlike them, are a clean type. And their diet tends to be of the clean variety, as witnessed by those who build feeding stations for birds alighting in their back yards to eat the bird seed placed in these cages to attract birds. Understandably, this frustrates and angers bird-lovers who try to attract these lovely fowl to their yards, but squirrel-lovers find it an intriguing and engaging past-time to watch the amazing gymnastics of a squirrel working its way up toward a bird cage with adroit maneuvers in an effort to gain some good eating.

Perhaps that is why birds try to harass squirrels, to ward them off the birds’ food supply. As if in reprisal, birds attack squirrels, especially when they are most vulnerable, scampering along telephone wires. Of course, these attacks are not always retaliatory. They can be playful too. This interplay also occurs at the site where each of them is most comfortable and “at home”: the trees, especially where they are numerous and clumped together. It is there that both birds and squirrels have their natural habitat, moving adroitly within and around them, making their nests in the leafy confines thriving there. The tree world is the natural habitat for the squirrel, who gains most attention for its daring and often hazardous leaping from one willowy branch to another, bending and swaying under the sudden weight of a squirrel leaping onto it from another tree.

But the phone wires, which are not the natural habitat for squirrels, even less so than for the bird family, nonetheless provide convenient unhampered travel paths for moving quickly and adroitly from one point to the next. At the same time, the wires provide one of the great threats besetting the otherwise attractive travel systems in the squirrel world. For these wires, extending from telephone pole to telephone pole, serve to power the electrical power generators serving the immediate neighborhood around them. Occasionally, an inquisitive squirrel, intrigued by one of these power units, will stop to explore it, in the course of which it will come upon something attractive to its appetite in the electrical cable converging there. And at that point will imitate Eve’s succumbing to her appetite, by biting into it, thereby suffering the same tragic end that she did, which, for the squirrel, meant being fried to death by the electrical wiring to which it was unwittingly drawn.

.
What is more, just as Eve’s miscue affected many more than just herself, so the squirrel’s mistake spills over into the lives of others, throwing into confusion the neighborhood served by that particular electrical power unit, which, in losing all its electrical power, shut down all the services provided by that system. Understandably, this does little to redeem whatever disesteem into which the squirrel species might have fallen among its admirers.

Such is the ups and downs of the squirrel in the eyes of its observers. While it may enjoy attributes that are the envy of those familiar with its antics, comparable to that of the daredevil taking incredible chances to gain the admiration of those less prone to expose themselves to danger for what seems to be foolish or insignificant advantages, the squirrel pays the price for costly miscues and miscalculations, evidence of which we note on the pavement beneath telephone poles where the remains of a daredevil squirrel lie alone and unattended.

Such exploits may not be attractive to many. Nor may they prove consistently worthwhile or advantageous to their observers. But they bask in their well-deserved reputation for being industrious and hard-working. Their sagacity and capacity to build nests for themselves and their family at the onslaught of cold weather, and their diligence in burying nuts of various kinds in the earth around their familiar haunts as fall changes into winter is noteworthy for its prudent foresight in providing for the welfare of its dependents. We might try to imitate their admirable qualities, while avoiding some of their foolhardiness.

Squirrels have a mixed reputation. On the one hand, many regard them as “cute”, full of life, with that curious way they have of looking at you, inquisitively, wondering what you are up to. Is it to be good or bad for them? So their muscles are always taught and drawn up tightly, especially if we are unfamiliar to them.   As we draw close to them, they wonder if we are up to tricks with them, whether for good or for bad. But they can be playful, if we have a bag of nuts that we scatter before them. And they engage in chatter with one another, which is engaging to some of their admirers.

On the other hand, there are others for whom squirrels are a nuisance, even somewhat threatening, because they can inflict a fair amount of damage with their incisor teeth and their sharp claws, which serve them well in climbing trees and scampering over limbs, leaping from one to the other. And they bear a facial resemblance to rats, at least for some people, which is reason enough to dislike them. Admittedly, they are troublesome, especially for gardeners, who are proud of their sprouting and budding flowers and food products as they emerge out of mother earth. Squirrels, along with rabbits, can prove quite troublesome for these growths.

Some people find squirrels good eating. Like rats, they are rodents, but, unlike them, are a clean type. And their diet tends to be of the clean variety, as witnessed by those who build feeding stations for birds alighting in their back yards to eat the bird seed placed in these cages to attract birds. Understandably, this frustrates and angers bird-lovers who try to attract these lovely fowl to their yards, but squirrel-lovers find it an intriguing and engaging past-time to watch the amazing gymnastics of a squirrel working its way up toward a bird cage with adroit maneuvers in an effort to gain some good eating.

Perhaps that is why birds try to harass squirrels, to ward them off the birds’ food supply. As if in reprisal, birds attack squirrels, especially when they are most vulnerable, scampering along telephone wires. Of course, these attacks are not always retaliatory. They can be playful too. This interplay also occurs at the site where each of them is most comfortable and “at home”: the trees, especially where they are numerous and clumped together. It is there that both birds and squirrels have their natural habitat, moving adroitly within and around them, making their nests in the leafy confines thriving there. The tree world is the natural habitat for the squirrel, who gains most attention for its daring and often hazardous leaping from one willowy branch to another, bending and swaying under the sudden weight of a squirrel leaping onto it from another tree.

But the phone wires, which are not the natural habitat for squirrels, even less so than for the bird family, nonetheless provide convenient unhampered travel paths for moving quickly and adroitly from one point to the next. At the same time, the wires provide one of the great threats besetting the otherwise attractive travel systems in the squirrel world. For these wires, extending from telephone pole to telephone pole, serve to power the electrical power generators serving the immediate neighborhood around them. Occasionally, an inquisitive squirrel, intrigued by one of these power units, will stop to explore it, in the course of which it will come upon something attractive to its appetite in the electrical cable converging there. And at that point will imitate Eve’s succumbing to her appetite, by biting into it, thereby suffering the same tragic end that she did, which, for the squirrel, meant being fried to death by the electrical wiring to which it was unwittingly drawn.

.
What is more, just as Eve’s miscue affected many more than just herself, so the squirrel’s mistake spills over into the lives of others, throwing into confusion the neighborhood served by that particular electrical power unit, which, in losing all its electrical power, shut down all the services provided by that system. Understandably, this does little to redeem whatever disesteem into which the squirrel species might have fallen among its admirers.

Such is the ups and downs of the squirrel in the eyes of its observers. While it may enjoy attributes that are the envy of those familiar with its antics, comparable to that of the daredevil taking incredible chances to gain the admiration of those less prone to expose themselves to danger for what seems to be foolish or insignificant advantages, the squirrel pays the price for costly miscues and miscalculations, evidence of which we note on the pavement beneath telephone poles where the remains of a daredevil squirrel lie alone and unattended.

Such exploits may not be attractive to many. Nor may they prove consistently worthwhile or advantageous to their observers. But they bask in their well-deserved reputation for being industrious and hard-working. Their sagacity and capacity to build nests for themselves and their family at the onslaught of cold weather, and their diligence in burying nuts of various kinds in the earth around their familiar haunts as fall changes into winter is noteworthy for its prudent foresight in providing for the welfare of its dependents. We might try to imitate their admirable qualities, while avoiding some of their foolhardiness.

Advertisements

Author: CPP

We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.

1 thought on “On the Ups and Downs of Squirrel Life”

  1. We have lots of squirrels on our property and I must confess that I wish we had less (none would be nice, eh!) While they are are funny to watch, they do cause lots of damage to property. This is a bit funny – one rainy day Joan and I were eating lunch in our dining room when we noticed water trickling down our wall! (The Squirrels had eaten the flashing from around “all” of our vent pipes! WOW!) I could go on and on as to all the “bad” things those “cute” little critters have done. Too bad all of our utility wires are buried! (lol) Thanks for your post Father – always enjoy them.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s