If I hadn’t heard the noise, I still would have known. Our little dog, a terrier mix, has an innate ability to hear the slightest noise and smell the slightest odor, ultimately and doggedly following it to its source. At least attempting to… He has recently learned that the suet feeder hanging from the eaves just outside our kitchen window attracts more than birds. The louder-than-usual sound of the madrone branch scraping against the window and the heavy swaying of the feeder caught his attention and he responded with his typical whining, barking, and frenzied demands to go outside immediately. To him, it all spelled one thing – SQUIRREL!
And he was right. As I stood, rock-still and quiet near the window, I watched that Eastern gray squirrel attempt what I thought might have been impossible. Literally within inches of the window, he tenaciously climbed up to the smallest and most brittle twig and time after time leaped toward the suet feeder, crashing gracelessly to the ground each time. I found it agonizing – and humorous – to watch. It was also exhausting to see his fruitless efforts and I finally turned my attention to other things. When I noticed that the noises had stopped, I checked again and there he was – precariously hanging from the bottom of that wire feeder, proudly gorging himself on the suet.
Although I love all animals and certainly appreciate that they all have their place in the world, these gray squirrels are not my favorites. A non-native species, they likely arrived in the Pacific Northwest with the help of humans. The most common squirrels found in most urban settings, they have also migrated into rural forested areas. Unlike most native squirrels, such as the smaller Douglas squirrels, they have adapted well to human habitation. Both species will give birth in the spring and fall; however, fall is typically a much busier season than any other time of the year. This possibly explains the frenzied search for food. Whatever the reason, they – and certainly all squirrels in general – are relentless in their pursuit of whatever it is they deem necessary to survive. This includes defending their territory, collecting nesting materials, and finding and obtaining food. As we have learned over years of trying, it is nearly impossible to out-smart of squirrel. Far more cleaver people than us have tried.
As we enter this brand-new year, we would do well to keep in mind the squirrels and their dogged persistence. Frustrating though it may be for us, more often than not this trait gets these furry creatures what they need. Trying new methods, climbing, leaping, and yes – often falling – are all a part of life’s journey for us, also. When we step out in faith, persisting in what we need to do to attain our goals, even with the accompanying setbacks, surely we will accomplish whatever it is we set out to do. Fortunately for us, we do not take this journey alone.
“But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
~ Luke 11:5-9
~ Luke 11:5-9