Hard-Working Squirrel

August 20, 2006

I was awakened the past two mornings by a very industrious squirrel that has been collecting some kind of cone from the evergreens around my place. Each morning about 8 o’clock the bombing started, jolting me from sleep. The squirrel was in the highest branches of this very tall tree pulling the cones free and dropping them 60 feet to the driveway and the roof of my cottage. It was really moving fast, plucking some 30 or 40 cones per minute. Smart weapons. The ground is still littered with the fruits of its labor: sticky, resin-y, green, densely packed cones from this giant that shades me from the sun. I have never witnessed such behavior, but I assume this was a major effort to “squirrel away” a food source or some kind of winter bedding or something. She or he is either a huge glutton, likes a really comfy bed, or is kicking in the labor for other squirrels in the neighborhood.

[Postscript: That squirrel (or those squirrels) actually started at 6:30am (I know, because I finally looked at the clock) – for 4 days in a row. Ouch! Today, I am home at mid-afternoon and a different species of tree outside my window is dropping dozens of those little helicopter things that spin so gracefully in the breeze. Something is afoot: the season is changing here in the great Pacific Northwest. – August 24, 2006, 4:19pm.]

[Update: This year, the squirrels have been dropping these pine-y cones out of the tree almost every morning for a month, raising several key questions: What are they doing? How many cones can one tree hold? Can I resist the urge to buy a pellet gun until the changing season puts an end to this activity? As I have learned the hard way (several maddening times) getting even the tiniest amount of sap from these pods on the hands requires one to head immediately to a sink for a warm, soapy and vigorous scrubbing. – September 22, 2008.]

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