I’m not really one to describe myself as a Naturalist.  Don’t get me wrong,  I love the magic that nature delivers to us on a daily basis – seasons, mountains, wind, salt water.  All that good stuff.  But, I can’t say that I excel in the art of close observation.  I don’t know the names of every species of bird in my backyard – just the big hitters: Cardinals, Blue Jays, Robins, etc.  I’m stymied by the myriad bugs in my garden.  Lady bugs, bees, and earthworms are just about the only ones I can name with confidence.  However, this fall, there is something going on that has made even the most disconnected and nature-ignorant person stop and take notice.  It’s the squirrels.

Never in my life have I seen so many squirrels behaving in such truly peculiar ways.  Sure, they’re out there doing their regular duties – collecting and burying nuts and seeds, pilfering our leftovers in the garden and scooting across roads at inopportune times.  But, this year, they have gone over and beyond their usual routines.  I have observed squirrels chasing my dog – YES!  Chasing the DOG!  I have seen them sitting on the hood of a parked car eating a bit of leftover bagel in front of a bakery.  I have watched them destroying jack-o-lanterns that sit next to the front doors of houses.  They are loud.  They are hyper.  And, for some reason, they have decided to develop a sense of humor.  Like the one that tossed acorns at my daughter while she was screaming and yelping on her trampoline.  The sniper had hidden himself in the maple tree above the trampoline and just started hurling acorns at her.  Funny!  I wish I had known that was the way to get her to stop yelling!  Smart squirrel!!

I’m no meteorologist.  I do not hold a degree in biology, psychology, or zoology.  I’m going to say it anyway.  I predict that we are in for a long winter.  A big winter.  A doozy of a winter.  It’s this odd squirrel behavior that led me to this conclusion.  I hope I’m right.  I know many people are grumbling right now.  “How can she want a big, long winter?  We have things to do, places to go, people to see.”

Yes, I know.  We all have lives.  Busy ones.  But, personally, I think a day or two spent snowed in with the people you love, with no obligations to work or school because no one could drive there to unlock the doors sounds nice.  Those rare days when only the people with “essential and necessary jobs”  (not my word choice – it came from the news) are allowed on the roads and all of us “useless people” are forced to stay home are gifts.  Gifts of peace and time intended to be spent with the people, animals, books, teacups, and thoughts that deserve our attention.

I hope I’m right.

I’ve got to go.  I’m heading out my door in search of a fat wooly caterpillar with a big middle stripe.  Or is it a skinny middle stripe and big end stripes?  I have no idea.  But, I’m going to look for one anyway.  Then, my non-scientific  prediction made by my untrained and unqualified self will have the evidence it needs.  Wish me luck!


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