Saturday, October 6, 2012

guilt tripped


by a squirrel. Late last fall I began a new cold weather routine of carrying a little sack of peanuts on our regular walks to a favorite sitting spot at the local oceanside park. I kept it up until springtime when the crows, bluejays, and one tiny squirrel had found other things to do and were no longer waiting for handouts.

A few days ago, on a beautiful cool and breezy afternoon, we were sitting on that bench again watching a few sailboats negotiate the choppy waters of the eastern arm when I suddenly noticed a movement in the grass close to the bench. It was the tiny squirrel from last year (or his twin brother) staring at me. Then he sat up on his hind legs and cocked his little head as if to say, 'Where are my nuts? You did bring them, didn't you? It isn't possible you've forgotten to carry them, is it? Don't you see how hungry I am?'

Needless to say,  there was a grocery store stop on the way home.

I recently read some articles in a science journal where there were some ongoing disagreements about whether animals are conscious and capable of planning their actions. Obviously those who argued the negative view have never spent time paying attention to squirrels.

Have you had any similar encounters?

26 comments:

marja-leena said...

Oh, I think they are intelligent creatures. They know where food comes from. When we moved to our present home about 28 years ago, we noticed the numerous squirrels and bluejays that always seemed to have peanuts in their mouths. I find peanuts buried in pots and planters and the garden. It has just dawned on me right this moment that I've not seen many squirrels around lately, perhaps that person isn't around feeding them anymore?

Curiously, the squirrel up there looks like the kind in Finland. It's those points beside the ears, the colour and bushiness. Ours are much plainer grey and black kinds.

Lisa Golden said...

I love the photo of the squirrel and your story made me laugh out loud.

Animals not intelligent? Interesting. One of our cats watches Netflix. When the show goes off, she comes to the top of the stairs and waits until Sophie follows her back to the bedroom and makes another show go.

Another cat gets under your hand and moves herself until you catch on. Her majesty wishes to be petted. Pet?

A silent row of trees becomes noisy as soon as the first squirrel or bird sees me at the feeder with the seed container.

And your squirrel who was clearly sending you a message.

Rob-bear said...

I think the "dumb" animals are a lot smarter than we give them credit for being. Lots of friends have dogs who know when it is time to be fed; they go sit by their bowls waiting for breakfast or supper.

The squirrel is cute! Glad you got those peanuts.

Lydia said...

Absolutely, I have had such encounters with animals and indeed with the squirrels around our house. This is such a prescient post for me, as "peanuts" are on my list for Wilco Farm store tomorrow. With this loooooong dry spell we have had I am actually behind in stocking their feeders. They may be distraught. Thank you for this post and the perfect image to get me going on their behalf!!!

Gemel said...

Bless his wee soul, what a treasure he is.

susan said...

It's funny that you're still finding buried peanuts after all this time. I wonder if whoever was feeding the little creatures moved away? I used to like feeding birds at home but feeders aren't allowed on our balconies - apparently there are too many pigeons in Halifax.

Yes, the squirrel in the picture probably does understand Finnish. I'd found a picture of a plain squirrel but this one was just too neat to leave behind.

susan said...

Isn't he beautiful? As Marja-Leena noticed he's probably Scandinavian but they all speak peanut.

That's funny you have a cat who enjoys Netflix. Does he have favorite movies or stars? Our cat used to do the petting hint thing too.

Yeah, it's amazing how fast news of food travels.

susan said...

Dogs and cats have been training their humans for eons. A British scientist, Rupert Sheldrake, has written a book about his studies of dogs who know when their owners are on their way home.

We are popular in the park.

susan said...

I'm glad to have supplied some encouragement; I got my own in a very pointed manner :-) Are you saying the grass has turned yellow there?

susan said...

Yes, treasures all and so happy are we to have them.

Ol'Buzzard said...

the squirrels and chipmunks in my yard expect to be fed. And, if the humming bird feeder is empty the little hummers will buzz around my living room window - they are never at the window any other time. They know who feeds them, who is friendly toward them and who is a danger. Ask crow...look at the study done on crows.
the Ol'Buzzard

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Herself always carries nuts in her car and will sometimes go and feed squirrels. some of them are so tame they will take the nut right from your hand

My cats know the difference between the fridge opening and the fridge opening because i am getting cheese out. They must do, because every time i get cheese out they are instantly at my feet wanting some - but don't seem to respond to the fridge at other times.

Anonymous said...

I'm always torn about the squirrel dilemma. They are so cute, but they also raid the bird feeders so I had to squirrel proof them....but then I felt guilty. They are cute, even if my dog hates them.

jams o donnell said...

WE get a lot of squirrels in and around the garden.We don't feed them. I like it when hedgehogs come to visit

Life As I Know It Now said...

Love the squirrel in your picture. Last week I was walking in the park and a squirrel ran up to me as if I had something to give it, which I did not unfortunately. It was so cute and I thought I need to start bring some handouts for those bold enough to approach.

Yesterday I watched a large Blue Heron feed on fish at a pond. I watched it fishing for at least half an hour and when I got up from the bench to leave it flew in front of me as if to bid me farewell. It was a bit cold out but that made me happy. :)

susan said...

When we lived in Portland (the west coast one) I had a garden where I grew flowers just for hummingbirds. They are amazing creatures, aren't they? In winter there was a liquid feeder for them that was sometimes hard to keep defrosted and two more feeders for everybody else.

susan said...

Carrying nuts to share with friends is a nice thing to do and something enjoyed by all.

It's funny that I've never met a cat that liked milk but they all seem to enjoy cheese. Weird.

susan said...

From my experience, squirrels are always more enjoyable to spend time with in their territory rather than ours. They are very greedy even if they are cute.

susan said...

I'd love to see a hedgehog.

susan said...

It is a beautiful picture even though it isn't one of a local squirrel. Around here they're very small, brown and have bushy red tails. One freezing clod winter day last year one ran up to me exactly the same way but I'd already left my supply of nuts in another location. I did feel sorry.

That's a wonderful story about your blue heron encounter. When we're open to such blessings they do happen more often than most people would imagine.

okjimm said...

Reminded me of an old girlfriend from college. She could never pronounce 'squirrel' ... it always came out sounding like 'Skurl'. I wonder if I brought some nuts to the park, if she would show up.

susan said...

Was she German? If so, I'd suggest you bring a haselnusstorte when you go to the park.

Gina Duarte said...

My mother's cat answers her with a distinctive meow that he only uses to respond when being called. This, of course, further endears him to my mother, who fuses over this cat like I've never seen her fuss over any pet we ever had when I was growing up. It's very sweet that she and her kitty have such a strong bond. :-)

susan said...

That's a great story and how nice for both of them. Close friendships between people and their pets are one of life's blessings.

Prunella Vulgaris said...

Randal and I had a similar experience at the cemetery when the squirrel was indignant that we forgot to bring some extra almonds upon our return.

susan said...

They do have a way of getting their point across, don't they?