For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in a squirrelly mood (at least while writing my column.) The little tree huggers keep popping up in my mind. Hope you don’t mind another fuzzy squirrel column.
I’ve often watched a wild squirrel and imagined taming it enough that it would accept me as a friend. Sadly, it’s never happened. Over the years, however, I have had friends who have done exactly that. Not only have squirrels accepted them, they’ve developed a time schedule so that the furry little guys anxiously wait for their human friends to appear.
One good example of this was my good friend, the late Bill Horine. Bill had several trees in his back yard that attracted squirrels.
Over a period of many weeks, he worked with one until it finally would allow him to get closer and closer. One day the little fellow took a peanut from Bill’s fingers. This was a life changing moment for my friend.
It wasn’t long until anyone who ventured near his home in Nevada was invited to “come out back” and watch the squirrel perform. Most of the time the invited visitor was not disappointed.
Yet Bill was not satisfied. I have no idea how long he worked with the squirrel but eventually the furry little moucher would take a peanut from Bill’s mouth.
Sadly, the squirrel and Bill weren’t able to perform that feat for long. The little entertainer met its maker when it fell victim to a hit-and run-driver on the street in front of Bill’s house.
This brings me to another man-squirrel story.
A few years ago my brother-in-law, Jerry Newman, started warming up to a squirrel in his front yard in Slater.
It was a time-consuming venture that slowly turned into a love affair. Jerry would work each day quietly talking to a little fellow he eventually named “Chipper.”
Chipper was a bit elusive at first. He, along with several of his kind, would visit Jerry frequently because of the quality of peanuts he provided. Trouble was, most of the time they would eat and run.
A heavily traveled street in front of the Newmans’ abode worried Jerry as his furry friend rushed from lawn to lawn. Fortunately, Chipper managed to survive the rapidly rolling vehicular danger and slowly mellowed to Jerry’s affection.
Each fall, Jerry and my sister Phillis would move their roots to Texas until the next spring. The good news was that Chipper would be waiting for their homecoming.
Upon their return, all Jerry would have to do is call for his friend and Chipper would come running. His reward, of course, was several choice peanuts.
Last year, Phillis and Jerry sold their home and moved to Ballard Creek in Huxley. Guess Chipper hasn’t got the word yet because he has yet to make an appearance in Huxley.
Instead of Chipper and his furry friends consuming Jerry’s peanuts at Ballard Creek, crows have zeroed in on the treats.
Jerry says he likes the crows but there is no doubt that he sure misses Chipper.
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Cambridge.