With summer now gone and fall slowly taking over, the squirrels that visit our yard are becoming a bit more numerous and frantic. It's not that I blame them - the fault is entirely ours. For many years, as we fed the birds, we had at least one feeder that was an easy-access one for squirrels. We had not planned this, it's just that squirrels are nearly impossible to
outfox outsquirrel. After a few visits by a wandering
black bear in the last year or so, we've cut back on the bird feeders and rigged
them so they are difficult for land critters to reach. This has frustrated the
squirrels to no end and they have quit coming around so frequently, which is
probably better or them in the long run. They are not really visitors; the
Douglas squirrels, or chickarees, occupied this territory long before any of us
were here and they favor native foods, especially seeds of the Douglas fir. Still,
who doesn't enjoy an easy, free meal now and then? They continue to venture in
to check the ground beneath the feeders. They need to store up some food for
later, especially if it is a female who's expecting a second litter.
NPS Photo by Sally King
We lived for a time in the hill country of Texas where there are Eastern Gray Squirrels. Active year-round, they live primarily in trees and feed on a great variety of foods; they regularly pilfered all the seed in our bird feeder. My husband kept trying to out-smart them and once mounted the feeder at the top of a tall, narrow pipe in the middle of the yard away from trees. One squirrel learned to climb the pole so I greased it with Vaseline. I still can picture him running up about half way, and then sliding back down like a miniature, furry fireman. After a number of failed attempts, he got even by blatantly grabbing and eating the ripe peaches on the tree next to our kitchen window. I do believe he smiled the whole time...
There is much we can learn from squirrels. They teach us to plan ahead, to store our energy for times of need, to help us get through the bad times and to prepare for the future. Prepare for seasonal changes; in periods of plenty save a little something. The squirrel's stash is no guarantee, however, because sometimes others rob the goods or they forget where they hid them. And squirrels sometimes go way overboard with their saving; reasonable saving and hoarding are not the same thing. For anyone who, like a squirrel, has been hoarding things - be prepared to release and let go.
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provision in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." - Luke 12: 15
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