I've said it before, Squirrels are cute. I know they are rodents, I am aware they can be destructive. But I can't help it. They are adorable, goofy, funny, fuzzy and well, cute.
And usually when they see us, they run up the nearest tree, or do their daredevil acts tight rope walking across phone wires and chattering at us from the safety of their lofty perches. I try to reassure them that I do not want their nuts or seeds or whatever else it is that they have, but they don't never believe me.
Still, even though they shun me and run away twitching their tails in irritation at my existence, I am amused by their antics. I chuckle as I watch them chasing each other 'round and 'round tree trunks and make magnificent leaps from branch to branch of the trees over head. I used to have a cat who meowed at squirrels through the window. I am not certain if that kitty knew it was a squirrel or thought it was just a funny looking cat.
One of the things I have always noticed though is that squirrels always keep their distance from us. We human giants! We scary Sasquatches thunder through their space as they are just trying to catch a quick snack. No wonder they run. We must be terrifying to them. And of course we are in their way, we are so rude! Or at least I assumed that is what they are thinking.
Assumed, past tense, used to assume. I no longer assume anything about squirrels.
A few nights ago, Tim and I took a walk in the evening, not to the beach but to a nearby park. It's a terrific little park with a big swingset and playscape, quite a number of picnic tables, a walking path around and LOADS of enormous trees! We've been in the park before. We've seen squirrels before but this was a different sort of experience.
As we strolled along, one brave little squirrel, instead of running away, slowly came toward us. How cute is that? So I stopped and took his picture. And he got closer, so I took another picture. "Look at that," I said to Tim, "He's not afraid of us!" I was delighted and took photo after photo as he appeared to pose for me. 'I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille".
Then Tim said, "There is more than one squirrel there" So I stopped snapping and lowered the camera. Oh. There were probably a dozen squirrels, very slowly getting closer and closer and closer. Suddenly instead of adorable, they seemed a little, pushy?
We started walking again. Then we stopped and they started closing in once more. And it was even more squirrels now. It was no longer a squirrel gang, it was now a squirrel herd and I was beginning to feel a little uneasy. And in my head popped some random bit of info that I once read about how at one time the American Buffalo was so prevalent that the herds of them thundered across the prairie and shook the ground as they came. The squirrel didn't shake the ground but they were definitely no longer shy around us. And there were still more of them coming closer.
Tim said, "I think somebody must be feeding them". Well suddenly it all made more sense . Tim opened his hands to show them that he had nothing to offer. They sat up to see. But obviously they didn't believe him. Maybe they thought he had food in his pockets? Because they came closer still and from all over the park. It was now a squirrel swarm!
We began walking again, apologizing profusely the entire way, and they followed us all the way out of the park.
I have never had that happen before. My first thought was that the next time we go, we should bring food for the squirrels. But my second thought was, what happens when we run out? I don't want to ever had to admit that I was beat up by a squirrel. That would just be too embarassing!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.