Too Cute For Words

Who can resist a squirrel with its fuzzy face and liquid brown eyes? We admire their nimble speed when they scamper up and down trees. We are awestruck when one takes a fearless leap of faith from one springy limb across the divide to another tree and lands with feet that stick like Velcro. Amazing!


They’re industrious, too. Unlike the housecat that sleeps away 16 or more hours of each day in a variety of lolling poses, the squirrel is the poster child for hyperactivity. Its quest for food is endless. It is compelled to run up and down every tree, run out and back on every limb, walk tightrope on any wire, bound through the grass, and raid all bird feeders.

Even when the motion of its feet pause for a thoughtful moment, the squirrel’s body twitches and its tail jerks and flips. It’s semaphore in fluffy fur. If we could decode the movements of that tail, we might discover squirrely masterpieces – A Tail of Two Cedars, The Day of the Hominids, or A Limb With a View.

Squirrels take life seriously. They plan for hard times by caching thousands of snacks in thousands of hiding places. They are renowned for their love of nuts, and I have resigned myself to losing a percentage of my garden’s hazelnut crop every year. In years like this one, when the trees produce little and the squirrel population is booming, I get no nuts at all. [Imagine these next words spoken through clenched teeth.] But I’m OK with that. Really I am.

This year, the squirrels gave me a special surprise. Not content with the hazelnuts (after all, it was a slim crop), they turned their attention to my patch of sweet corn and swept through it like a horde of proverbial locusts.


Nimble enough to climb the corn stalk, toothy enough to strip back the husk, and voracious enough to take every kernel for themselves, they have savaged the yield of my corn. Instead of harvesting the crop at a leisurely pace, waiting until each ear had reached its peak of ripeness, I took as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Even so, I lost countless ears of corn.

With such losses, some people – not me, of course – might start thinking of squirrels as little more than rats with fluffy tails. They would say the squirrel is a rodent and a rat is a rodent, therefore, Squirrel equals Rat. Furthermore, rats are vermin, so squirrels are vermin. By association, the next thought of such people – not me, of course – would be Vermin! Exterminate!

Myself, I chuckle at their naiveté. As if! As if any pathetic human could make even a tiny dent in the swarms of grey squirrels in our cities. These are squirrels fed to fecund fatness by peanut-toting grannies, grandpas, and grandkids in the parks, squirrels big enough to intimidate neighbourhood cats, squirrels kept safe by leashes on dogs, squirrels annoyingly savvy about traffic, and squirrels fanatically devoted to being fruitful and multiplying.

Considering all the qualities and quirks of this animal, when you ask me what I think of the irrepressible grey squirrel, I can give only one answer. [Imagine these next words spoken through clenched teeth.]

“They are too cute for words!”


4 thoughts on “Too Cute For Words

  1. Kathryn says:

    You will be glad to know that you are not alone in your woes concerning the squirrel in all its cuteness…

    As it is, not long ago I spotted a large nest in a beautiful old Guachipelin tree in my yard. Hmmm, I thought, much too large for my bird friends,, must be made by the squirrel population that is not small in my neighborhood. The truth is that I am happy that these fuzzy tailed fellows devour all of the Nances from several trees in my yard. The flower of the Nance is beautiful, but I for one cannot stand the ripened fruit of this tree and if the ripe yellow fruits should fall to the ground and ferment, the smell is disgusting at best!

    So, I watch, with caution as the squirrels leap from branch to branch and scamper over every size of branch. The crunch, crunch, crunch of mealtime in the Nance tree is a most familiar sound in my garden. Pastoral as Beethoven’s 6th..

    Until, … rising early one morning I took a short walk surveying patches of herbs and chile plants when a smallish furry friend scampered down the garden railing.. Aha! I thought. This must be a young squirrel from the nest! Aha! Oh no!! What is he doing in my Papaya tree!! These young precious papayas which I have been nurturing with such joy! What?! This reckless upstart is ripping off the green papayas, sampling the tender fruits and tossing them to the ground! ..and pays no attention to my screams of protest! This barbarous hairy creature!!

    Believe me, I sympathize with your plight..

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