Something we live with all the time but never really appreciate are squirrels. Sure, they can be destructive and you never want to have one in your house, but to just observe them from afar can be very rewarding.
I have managed to accumulate a sizable following in my backyard.
I have always fed them and when my boys were growing up there was always one in particular that waited patiently for his culinary treat. We named him “Chunk”. Since there were many squirrels, one would occasionally meet an untimely end under a passing car. I would quickly go out and retrieve the remains before my boys would see them. So, the next squirrel that showed up would be “Chunk” and the boys would never have to face the fact that the “Chunk” had been met an untimely death.
I even had them so tame that they would come over and take a peanut out of my hand. I did this until my niece gave me some pecans one time and I watched a squirrel crack one with his jaws. Fearing for the safety of my fingers, I never put my fingers down again. Who knows if it would be just my bad luck to have the only near-sighted squirrel on the planet?
Observing them has been pure pleasure. The former radio personality, Bill Phillips, lived over in Pinehurst and also fed a quantity of squirrels. He used to sit in a chair in his yard and dole out peanuts to his adoring and voracious audience. I now know what pleasure he got from something as simple as supplying sustenance to something so small and inoffensive.
My only experience with hunting involved a squirrel. When I was about 15, my grandfather gave me his shotgun. My mother took me out to the woods and said she would pick me up in two hours. I walked the path through the woods and finally spotted a squirrel, which I proceeded to shoot. Mom wouldn’t do anything with it but my grandmother knew how prepare it for eating. I must not have acquired a taste for it because I never went hunting again. I felt so bad about killing that little squirrel that it stayed with me to this day. I’m sure I spend as much on 25 pound bags of peanuts as some guys spend on shotgun shells going squirrel hunting.
The habits and quirks of the little critters is simply amazing to observe. Like the fact that they can’t stand to touch one another. They scamper all over the yard looking for the peanuts among the hulls that I have never been able to get them to pick up. I have to go out occasionally and rake the yard down to bare grass. But, all in all, we have a mutual understanding that I supply the peanuts and they provide the entertainment.