My neighbor lady keeps a bird feeder on the five feet of land between her driveway and my bedroom window. I, personally, have never found birds to be that intriguing. I may notice when an especially pretty one lands within view, but typically birds only catch my attention for about as long as birds hold still. Not long.
Fortunately, the feeder is big enough that many neighborhood squirrels also make use of its ever-replenished resources. Squirrels, in my opinion, have much more to offer as far as entertainment goes.
I would like to take a moment to clarify that while a discussion of squirrels may sound rather like the “bottom of the barrel” when it comes to blog post ideas, I actually (prepare for my next lame blog confession) am an avid squirrel-watcher and have much to say on the topic. In fact, I would strongly suggest the activity to anyone looking for a relaxing, low time-commitment pastime. Tuning in occasionally to the hustle and bustle of the squirrel world helps me escape from the demands of my day for a moment and enjoy the simple complexities of nature. This often proves to be a rather amusing experience.
With that said, I would like you all to meet Chunk.
Chunk is my favorite neighborhood squirrel, lovingly named after the shockingly large patch of fur that was missing from his back the first time I met him (that is, the first time I was able to distinguish him from the rest of the squirrel population.) Chunk’s wound appeared in early January and has, I am happy to say, healed significantly since then. Although, I should mention that his hair loss problems have continued. While the first wound appeared to have been a true battle scar, the more recent balding issues have not been bloody at all. This has led my roommates and I to conclude that he probably has mange.
Until just this past week, I was under the impression that “mangy” simply was a synonym for “scraggily” or “unkempt.” I now know that it is actually a condition where mites make an animal’s fur fall out. I have considered how I could help dear Chunk be rid of his unwelcome guests, but realize it is not really worth the attempt. He is alive and well, perky as ever, and he remains distinguishable (which I greatly appreciate.)
While Chunk is my favorite squirrel, there are others in my neighborhood that deserve an honorable-mention. I would like to first point out that our squirrels are the tough-guys of the city. They are big, bold, and throw out a ton of attitude. I am convinced that rabbits don’t even come near my yard. I live across the street from Mount Mercy University, and the squirrels on campus are particularly un-intimidated by people. They act like students ( with full ride scholarships) and let you know that they have every right to be there.
- My first honorable-mention squirrel had a staring contest with a friend of mine, and won. My friend, who had just set up her hammock for a nap, was so intimidated that she immediately picked up her stuff and went back inside. This is not to be taken lightly.
- I once saw a squirrel run down a tree and across a yard with an entire hamburger bun in its mouth. A commendable effort, no doubt.
- And lastly, I have witnessed one of my backyard squirrels do a back flip. Multiple times. In the same place. On different mornings. This phenomenon is yet to be explained.
My point is, if you ever find yourself with a spare five minutes: pause, grab a cup of tea, and gaze out the window for a while. It often proves to be worthwhile.