© Paul Whippey (Own work) – via Wikimedia Commons
Today’s philosophical question – Do Squirrels like sweets? Okay, so this may be a bit heavy for a Sunday afternoon, but bear with me …
I was sitting doing some peaceful colouring at the kitchen table with my 2.5 year old son, when a red blur streaked past the window arresting the attention of us both. We looked up the garden. Nothing there. We peered around the wall. Nope, nothing there either. Joe scratched his head. He wondered if it was the deer we saw yesterday, lazily chewing dandelion stalks up the field until Joe gave a friendly but loud shout of “Hello Deer!”, and scared the poor creature half to death. It bounced its way back into the forest in a blink. Joe cried.
With his interest piqued again today, and keen to make amends to the terrified deer, my boy was not to be deterred from his quest to find the red streak. So, rainbow picture abandoned, we embarked on a tour of the garden and land. Minutes later, whilst he and I were knee deep investigating a particularly large molehill, Ella appeared breathlessly from the terrace full of excitement about the red squirrel she had just encountered en route to the front of the house. From her account of the meeting the unfortunate squirrel was apparently subjected to an equally loud exclamation of some form, and set off for cover in a similar manner to the deer. In any event, mystery solved.
“It’s a squirrel Joe! A Squirrel!” she cried.
Joe didn’t look convinced.
“We need to make it a bed a give it some food,” announced my girl, ever the homemaker.
“Can’t me chase it?” asked Joe.
“No, that will scare it,” counselled Ella.
“Oh,” said Joe, beaten.
I left them to it, Ella marshalling Joe into finding grass and leaves for a soft bed, and collecting freshly fallen walnuts from around the two trees that annually shed their crop on our field. In the early years here we used to collect, dry, store and eat them. Then we realised that each year the crop was so large we were ending up with a growing (and wasteful) stockpile, so we now only harvest a few kilos each year, and leave the rest to the wildlife. This keeps the squirrels very busy, and the children entertained. But that was 12 months ago now, and they have forgotten all over again.
I supplied bowls for water, and shelled walnuts “in case the little squirrels don’t have sharp enough teeth, Mummy.”
All thoughts of the deer forgotten, they worked industriously, and both finally appeared in the kitchen, cheeks glowing with the freshness of the wet autumn day and muddy wellies tracking their progress across the floor.
“Come and look!” said Ella. So I did. I found a delightful little haven nestled between two planters.
“The squirrels in our garden are very lucky,” I said. They beamed.
“I think they need sweets, to give them energy,” attempted Ella. Nothing to do at all with the fact that this would necessitate breaking open the candy tub, from which she and her patient little brother would surely deserve a treat for being SO nice to the squirrels. It was nearly lunchtime.
“No,” I said, decisively. “Squirrels don’t like sweeties.”
“How do you know Mummy?” was the reply ….
Well, actually I don’t. And I’m not likely to find out anytime soon, as the lunchtime deadline held fast, despite the hard-done-to protestations.
But her question did get me thinking …..!