Speaking Squirrel

In a past blog I referred to squirrels as the Marx Brothers of the local wildlife scene.

Actually, it's sometimes difficult to think of squirrels as "wildlife." They live in such close proximity to humans that they have become nearly domesticated.

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On the mail route, as I drive the streets of South Dennis listening to classical music, I see squirrels around most every turn. The long hair music presents a virtual soundtrack to the squirrel activities taking place before me. Most times, the music doesn't quite fit the scene. Copland, Mozart, Debussy, Brahms, Dvorak - none of these great composers quite capture the essence of the squirrel.

Yet, the other day a piece of music came on that was just right - Beethoven's Ronda a capriccio in G. Major (Opus 129), a/k/a "Rage Over the Lost Penny."

More like "Rage Over the Lost Acorn!"

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If you are attentive to detail, and adept at making Disney-like sounds with your mouth, then you can make chattering noises much like a squirrel which will hold their attention for a few moments as they stop, sit up, remain very still, stare, and size up the situation within their tiny squirrel brain.

For that moment of transfixification (heck, if the President can make up words then so can I), you'll become completely convinced that you have somehow mastered the specialized technique of speaking squirrel and are actually saying something of real worth to this furry, gray inhabitant of the rodent realm.

(FYI: Learning to speak squirrel is much easier than learning a foreign language in school. For instance, after five years of Français all I could say was "Je ne comprends pas" -- translation: "I don't understand.")

But, in a few moments the magic is gone. The squirrel breaks his statuesque pose to scratch an itch. And then away he leaps and bounds toward some new adventure in the neighbor's yard.

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Last week on the mail route, as I was driving along in a quiet neighborhood on a crystal clear day, sojourning from mailbox to mailbox to mailbox, I spied a squirrel running across the street and into a nearby front lawn with what looked like half a bagel in his mouth. At least, it looked like a bagel, but then again, I was a bit hungry at the time so I considered that perhaps my eyes and my mind were playing tricks on me.

It turns out that my eyes and my mind were indeed operating properly. For after a moment I saw a second squirrel following the first ... with a container of cream cheese clenched in his little rodent teeth!

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Heck, I've even had a squirrel in the house!

He entered down the chimney in the living room. My son, then about eight years old, claimed he saw a squirrel in the Christmas tree earlier in the afternoon. By the time I got home from work the little devil had broken a tree ornament, knocked a number of items off the fireplace mantle, somehow managed to dislodge a painting from the wall, and tore up the curtains. I think he also got into the liquor cabinet because I found a highball on the coffee table.

I couldn't find him anywhere in the living room, so I sat down before the hearth and jiggled the chain that led up, up, up to the hatch at the top of the chimney (which I had forgotten to close the night before ... my bad!). Well, the critter must have been dangling from the chain for he fell right onto my lap!

I screamed!

I think he screamed as well ... and then he ran off into the dining room!

It took me the better part of an hour to corner him in the children's playroom off the kitchen, capture him under a milk crate, and gently usher him outside. He was black with soot from the chimney.

And he had liquor on his breath, which confirmed my earlier suspicion!

Jack Sheedy

 

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