31 July 2008

One Corn-Founded Squirrel!

We all have a right to be mad, but this irate chipmunk takes the cake (or at least the cornbread). He doesn't seem self-possessed - rather he seems completely possessed. Could he have just finished reading Stephen King's "Children of the Corn" perhaps (or seeing the movie)?

Thanks to my friend Chet in Pennsylvania, who captured this image of the cutest and grumpiest chipmunk on Planet Earth, we now know that squirrels have their bad days too.

Even in his apparent anger, he seems somewhat regal though, as if seated upon the cob as his throne. I can just hear him declaring, throughout the kingdom, "Off with their ears!" (This is corn, remember, not lettuce, so there's no need for any beheadings.)

Anytime I am having a bad day (and I've had a few this week that came close) I will think of this fellow. Even when the chips are down, this chip is definitely up.

Long live the King of Corn!

25 July 2008

High fives for squirrels!

A friend just forwarded me this photograph. I'm not sure where it was taken or where it is from, but once I laid my eyes on it, I knew exactly where it was going - RIGHT ONTO THIS BLOG.

Admit it: You want to High-Five him right back, don't you? (Actually it looks more like a HIGH-FOUR with a vestigal thumb but let's not nit-pick here, ok?)

Now what could he be high-fiving about? My guess is, THE ECONOMY.
While the rest of us struggle and worry about taxes, property values, our pensions and the future of our respective industries in which we have built careers, this fellow has spent his life dutifully squirreling away his assets for the future. I think I want to hire him as my financial planner. Don't you?

High-five, little fellow!!

20 July 2008

Sunday Squirrels, in a big way!

Readers of The Sunday Herald in India, got an eyeful today in the paper's Travel section:


My friend Arul, who is on fellowship in India, sent me this link, and it gently escorted me to a story about tourism at the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary in India, a reasonable train ride's distance from Bangalore. Follow it and see what greets you on the screen.

It is a Giant Malabar Squirrel! Handsome, no? Here is an artist's rendering of this 4-pound creature, courtesy of the Bombay Natural History society:

When this guy asks you for nuts, you better have your shirt pockets and pants pockets - and jacket pockets - full of a stash!

I think it is particularly encouraging that the newspaper chose a photo of a squirrel, out of all the animal images it surely could have used, to draw attention to Dandeli's wonders. Newspapers (and I know this to be true because I work for one!) are always in the business of trying to put eye-catching headlines and images out there, things that will draw the readers in.

Those of us who know squirrels, however, know that they are wonders of the world in their own right. It's about time they get their "share of ink," as we say in the publishing business.

That's a Giant Step for the Giant Malabar Squirrel - and a giant leap for all squirrels, in fact!

16 July 2008

What's in a name, squirrel?

Let's face it, squirrels seem to sell themselves. Anyone who's seen their acrobatics under (or atop) a tree, or been cornered by their hard-sell nut-begging behavior that cries out, "we don't take 'no' for an answer," knows this. You buy into their gambit even without realizing it.

So it's only natural that human marketers would harness a little squirrel power behind some more everyday people-pleasing commodities, everything from beer and wine to candies and even a music group.

Take Mad Squirrel Chardonel, for instance. This is a wine produced by Mary Michelle wines in Illinois and presumably, a few glasses do NOT leave you bright-eyed anymore but your tongue may feel a bit bushy-tailed. For those who prefer something more grainy than grape, there is Fat Squirrel Ale, which comes to us from a Wisconsin-based brewer. (Grain being a carbohydrate, presumably we know how and why the squirrel got fat.)

The sweeter side of life is celebrated by the Buddy Squirrel line of nut candies, also in Wisconsin, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, an old-time American caramel favorite whose name was adopted by a stylish, popular and now-defunct music group.

And let's not forget technology. There is even a Squirrel Programming Language.

Squirrels, of course, get no royalties from all this use of their wit, charm and cuteness because, as squirrelly as some folks think lawyers may be, there are no squirrel lawyers - at least not yet. Perhaps, however, that is the next industry to capitalize on harnessing squirrel power.

I can just see the shingle hanging outside the office door now: Chatterer, Rodentay & Bushytail, Acornies-at-Law

14 July 2008

A squirrel for all seasons

This photograph of a beautiful hand-crafted weathervane comes my way courtesy of a fellow blogger, Hugh Hubble, across the Pond. He photographed this stately metal fellow atop a country building and it led us both to believe that perhaps it was designed by a farrier, or some other old-world type artisan, a person gifted at what seems a dying art in modern times.
This functional creature inspires me as being truly a Squirrel for All Seasons. Perched higher on his equally beautiful rooftop than any of his flesh-and-fur colleagues might ever be in their respective trees, the squirrel gracefully surveys not just the landscape but the weather prospects ahead. In this respect, he "out-roosters" the rooster who is most typically seen in this position. (Ah, could "Weathervane Sentinel" possibly be the next career post to be outsourced, in this modern economy, to wild rodents? Probably not. The crowing bird still does the lion's share of the work, if you'll pardon the intermingling of metaphors.)

It's not so odd really, when you think about it. We watch squirrels moult in spring and wonder if the weather will turn warmer a bit earlier. We watch them cache their nuts in late summer into autumn and speculate if the winter will be without mercy. We squirrel-watchers observe them nest-building, migrating, mating and conducting all other manner of daily business. And from this, we conclude what our own lives will be like.

Perhaps in that respect every squirrel - whether on our rooftops or merely in our treetops - is, in its own way, a weathervane for us, helping us to chart the course of our own days and seasons.

11 July 2008

A hair-raising squirrel story

Listed among those famous folks, who are most famous for being bald: Telly Savalas, Daddy Warbucks, Persis Khambatta, Alfred Hitchcock, Sinead O'Connor (briefly, Britney Spears), Mister PotatoHead and yes, even Humpty Dumpty (ever seen a soft-boiled egg with an updo or hightop fade?)

And now: Smoothie the squirrel.

This beautiful male's appearance at St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Britain has been hair-raising because he showed up as the apparent victim of hair-razing -- as in, bald with only a few wisps on his tail. And though the customary conclusion in such cases is that the squirrel was shorn by mites that accompany mange, this apparently doesn't seem to be the case for Smoothie.
He is handsome anyway, with a good appetite and presumably, a pretty good attitude.

But getting to the root (or at least the follicle) behind his condition may take some digging, if not some splitting hairs altogether.

We will be watching his case and hoping things turn around for him soon. There is no "Hair Club for Squirrels" and rodent toupees are not the fashion either. At least the weather is warm enough so he's not at risk for frostbite. But let's all wish the good folks in the UK some good fortune to help our friend Smoothie get his coat back in time for fall fashion and nut burying season.

07 July 2008

Squirrel swarm!

Should anyone ever wonder "where have all the squirrels gone?" I swear that on some mornings they have found their way onto our property. This is the view on most mornings, early, when the commuters stop by to fortify themselves for a busy day of digging, planting, scurrying and raiding bird-feeders.
Some of these are the regulars we see every day; others are newcomers I may not recognize. There are a few, such as Tipsy, a slightly neurologic squirrel, who brightens my day when he shows up - and I make sure he gets extra so he stays strong and able-bodied.

In case I ever feel like my life is not complete I only need to look at these photos to realize that nature has given us "ACORN-U-COPIA."