Thursday, October 10, 2013

Squirrel & Nut

A decent photo through a dirty window covered with a mesh screen is not optimal, but you get the picture. Will keep trying.
My resident red squirrel has taken to leaving me acorn prezzies in the bottom of his water dish (really a tall faceted glass wedged in the fencepost for the thirsty bees and the tiny nectar wasps that pollinate my flowers).

I'd put a cork in the glass to rescue the nectar wasps that tend to drown if they take on too much water. Perhaps the squirrel was leaving me acorn gifts in exchange for water? Making similes? The acorns and cork do look similar. Both come from oak trees.

Last spring, the neighbor replaced our decrepit ivy-covered fence with a wide wooden one, replete with a cap-rail. It's now a kitty and squirrel highway. 

At first I thought it was the cats knocking off my old blue pots artfully aligned along the top of the fence. So I spaced the surviving pots farther apart to accommodate little cat feet. Still more pots came crashing down on both sides of the fence. Then I thought it was the hoodlum rats or hood 'possoms running the rails during the night, but this was clearly a daytime crockery crashing affair. I needed to adjust my sights.

Then I caught the red squirrel in action lapping water from the tall glass like a cat. Too cute. As he skittered back to safety, I noticed that he had a completely different leaping criteria with all that tail fluff and drag. When he leapt up, his tail went down, and vice versa. A counterweight, not a balancing pole. Not at all like a cat.

With all that crashing crockery, and bouncing blue tin cups, it's a wonder the squirrel braved the trek to the watering hole. So I put all the pots (what was left of them) closer together, so it's now one giant leap for squirrelkind. No more pots knocked off the ledge. They're close enough for the cat to leap over too. 

Thirsty hoolighan squirrels smashing all my blue pots never crossed my mind. The critters come up from the trees on the other side of the street by the freeway. Then I realized there's no fresh water for them anywhere in the urban jungle. So now I water the plants, the bees and the squirrels. The little coast live oak acorns were a surprise.

I now know that acorns sink to the bottom of a cup. Squirrel nuts anyone? Fresh delivered daily. No zippers. Yet.

NutDate 10.4 Think I'll blow the squirrel's mind by leaving some super jumbo-sized valley oak acorns in the glass.

NutDate 10.15—Nuts planted along the top of the fence and inside pots. Very large acorn fills one little pot. Wonder what will happen when Squirrel sees that one?

NutDate 10.16—Some small acorns are gone. Big ones untouched.

NutDate 10.17—Think I'll leave some small avocado pits mixed in with the big acorns.

NutDate 10.18—Squirrel left me one measly acorn in the bottom of the glass but took all the avocado pits. You'd think he'd at least leave the big acorns considering I've upped the ante. The thought of Squirrel trying to force an avocado pit into his cheek pouches is too funny for words. But both? He probably looked like a pair of furry dice or dogs bollocks with teeth.

NutDate—Like whatever. After weeks of ignoring the rest of the avocado pits (but they steal the tiny unripe avocados from our neighbor's tree, and eat them when they're hard as rocks), our squirrel finally got it. But I had to remove said acorn from said pot on fence and move it half-way down the fence where he could find it. He ran right past it again as he was headed up toward the water glass. But on the return trip back down to the road, he finally spotted the nut, grabbed it, and then promptly fell off the fence. I guess it weighed too much. I could hear his feet sliding down the fence. He landed with a squawk and proceeded to scold me, the nut, the fence, the ground. The ingrate. I learned that squirrels are always in a hurry, they don't see the forest for the trees, or, rather, the nut on the fence, they don't have the agility of a cat, and they certainly don't have very good eyesight. Or hindsight. But they have excellent swearing skills. No translation needed.

Next year sometime: Squirrel has taken to marking the entire length of the fence as his turf, like a cat scentmarking. He lays his front end down on the fence and, using his hind legs, he scoots and propels himself along in a ridiculous manner, like a otter sliding down a mudbank, wiping his jowls along the entire length of the railing. Not one more acorn has appeared but he is ever hopeful. I also found out that he is an Eastern red squirrel. Not European at all.

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