We interrupt this pandemic to talk about...

We interrupt this pandemic to talk about...
                        

It’s now week seven of quarantine. Please bow your heads and let’s observe a moment of silence to mourn the entirely fun lives we used to live. Sometimes we complained about our lives, but now we know our lives were extremely good the way they were.

I saw a television commercial recently for a show, and a male character says, “There’s going to be no normal to go back to, just before and after.” Bingo! That describes our current situation perfectly.

The stress is getting to everyone. The other day Joe had a medical appointment. I was helping him fill out the paperwork. We got to the question: Have you had thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else?

Well, that’s an interesting question. Maybe not before the pandemic, but with all this stay-at-home togetherness, it’s not hard to imagine someone will end up on a future episode of “Snapped.”

If only we had something to take our minds off of our current situation. Good news! We interrupt this pandemic to talk about … squirrels.

I’ve been watching squirrels a lot lately. It’s the best time to squirrel watch when there are few leaves on the trees. There are quite a few tall trees in our back yard, and I can see them when I’m working in the kitchen or doing dishes at the sink.

Squirrels are amazing creatures, and they haven’t been affected by the pandemic, so it’s fun to see them go about their little daredevil lives unaffected by what we are dealing with.

When you have a lot of squirrels around, it’s like having a three-ring circus in the backyard and sometimes in the front yard when they tiptoe across the power lines in front of the house or — as I like to call it — the squirrel super highway.

Using the squirrel super highway, they can get around the neighborhood very efficiently without setting a paw on the ground. Of course that doesn’t always work out well for them. I remember one time when the power to our house shut off unexpectedly in the middle of a nice sunny day. Unfortunately it was a transformer problem, resulting in some fried squirrel.

But let’s not talk about that!

We have a good mix of black, gray and red squirrels in our neighborhood. I love their little, bushy tails. I love to see them sit on my picnic table with those fuzzy tails curled up in the air, their dark, bright eyes scanning the yard for edibles. I love the way their bodies move in little jumps as they navigate around the yard.

According to some facts I looked up about squirrels, they tend to run in erratic patterns to confuse predators. But not the squirrels in our neighborhood; I think they are feeling extremely safe here. They are not concerned as they take their time exploring the yard, and if they see me outside, they run in a straight line for the power pole so they can access the squirrel super highway and hightail it out of there.

When they are high in the trees is when squirrels are at their best. According to the squirrel facts I found, they can run as fast as 12-14 mph. Some have been clocked as high as 20 mph; those would be the ones in our neighborhood. Our squirrels are above average.

It’s most terrifying to see them running along the swaying upper limbs of the trees at top speed, and then they perform their daring “leap of death” as they thrust their little, furry bodies toward another tree. I hold my breath until I see them grab onto another branch and continue at top speed. One time I saw one miss the mark and fall about 15 feet before he grabbed another branch. Whew.

Where are they going? Why are they going so fast? Maybe by the end of the pandemic, I will have the answers. Until then I’m going to continue to watch.

The best news: Squirrels are everywhere, so if you want to brighten your day, take a nature-watching break of your own. I don’t know about you, but I feel much better now than before we talked about squirrels.

Hang in there.


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