Do you remember the scene from the movie Christmas Vacation where the squirrel jumps out of the tree and chaos ensues? It is one of my favourite comedic scenes, especially when the grandfather shouts, "Squirrel." I still laugh at that scene and find these creatures fascinating.
Earlier this week, as Rick and I walked the boardwalk by the bay, we had an interesting conversation with a red squirrel. We noticed her immediately, sat by the bridge eating a seed left by adoring islanders. She ignored us but before we had crossed the bridge, she out-ran us up the trail.
When we arrived at the feeder and stopped for a look, she circled each of us and chatted as she did. The squirrels in this area are accustomed to admirers feeding them and now expect that every passer-by has the same intention. This one focussed on Rick and stood in front of him, looking up and saying something in her squirrel speak. Rick showed her his empty gloved hands, saying,"I don't have any peanuts for you today. Next time."
The squirrel turned her back on Rick, now making that squirrel noise, like a prolonged clicking sound you hear sometimes in the distance as you walk through their habitat. That day, it sounded like she was scolding Rick.
There are so many interesting stories about squirrels. One friend told a story about cookies she made and put in a plastic container inside a box for overnight. She left the box on the balcony. The next morning, ready to leave the house, she went to the balcony to discover the cookies, intended for a party, all over the balcony. Soil from flower pots covered the balcony and pieces of cookie were buried in the pots. Squirrels had opened the box and the plastic container. That day, she realized that squirrels were now climbing up the corner of her building all the way to the seventh floor.
On another occasion, on a particularly warm late autumn day, my friend left her apartment with just the screen door closing off the balcony. She had decorated for Christmas, putting a Dickens village on display. She used cotton wool as snow, and had piped green icing on inverted ice cream cones for trees. It looked so pretty.
When she returned home, a squirrel had come through the lower part of the screen, eaten the "trees" and taken all the cotton wool back through the hole in the screen. Telltale bits of wool now stuck to the screen.
The final story is one from our time in Howley, Newfoundland when we vacationed there over a few summers when our daughter was young. We had a travel trailer that we parked on a piece of land on Grand Lake and Rick's parents did the same. We loved our time there, sat around campfires, fishing, picking berries, paddle-boating on the lake, riding the All Terrain Vehicle on the old dirt road.
One of our favourite meals was pea soup, cooked on the propane stove. We always made dumplings or as Newfoundlanders call them, dough b'ys, putting the floury lumps to cook in the pot when the soup was almost done. Sometimes, they were perfect, light and fluffly. Other times, they were dunch, which is soggy or doughy. Dunch dough b'ys always made it to the fire pit where we burned the evidence that night.
One day, we watched in amusement as a squirrel grabbed one of these doughy balls and struggled down the road with it. He stopped for a breather often and eventually disappeared into the woods. He didn't come back for the rest of them and didn't tell his friends either. One was all he could stomach. Even squirrels have a discriminating palate when it comes to dough b'ys.
Do you have any squirrel stories to share?