Last Friday, I published a post here on Blogger
which discussed Henry David Thoreau
's well known quote, "The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest."
In this follow-up post, I'd like to share with you what Thoreau had to say about this animal type in his essay, Walden 175.
I am prompted to do this upon seeing the squirrel
(who has been visiting my rooftop garden
since early July
) enjoying peanuts from one of my bird feeders.
He/she can be seen munching away while atop my ring-style feeder.
The reason I thought of Thoreau upon seeing this is I recently learned he was evidently known for leaving out ears of unripened sweet corn for these creatures during the winter.
I've never left out unripened corn in the winter (or any time for that matter) but during winter months, I have made sure my feeders (including my ring-style peanut feeder) are replenished during that season in order to provide my visiting birds with physical nourishment.
However, I'm not that altruistic for I receive spiritual nourishment upon observing members of the avian community, as you might surmise from the next sequence of pictures.
I also leave peanuts in my ring style feeder during noon-winter months and the birds truly seem to be glad for this, as you might surmise from the next set of photographs.
As you can see a variety of bird types, enjoy being at this feeder and Blue jays
are no exception, as evidenced in the fifth picture within this entry featuring them enjoying being there in the winter as well as in following photo-ops.
But I've digressed in terms of the behavior of squirrels at this feeder as well as Thoreau's thoughts about that animal type which he expressed in Walden 175.
According to a post
published in a nature-themed blog, known as The Curious People,
written by David Bristosw, he states, "Thoreau provides one of the best descriptions of squirrel behavior"
(within his writing, Walden 175
). Bristow goes on to share Thoreau's play-by-play description of squirrel behavior which I've copied and pasted below as I could not agree more, indeed, it os one of the best description of squirrel behavior.
“One would approach at first warily through the shrub oaks, running over the snow-crust by fits and starts like a leaf blown by the wind, now a few paces this way, with wonderful speed and waste of energy, making inconceivable haste with his 'trotters,' as if it were for a wager, and now as many paces that way, but never getting on more than half a rod at a time; and then suddenly pausing with a ludicrous expression and a gratuitous somerset, as if all the eyes in the universe were eyed on him — for all the motions of a squirrel, even in the most solitary recesses of the forest, imply spectators as much as those of a dancing girl — wasting more time in delay and circumspection than would have sufficed to walk the whole distance — I never saw one walk — and then suddenly, before you could say Jack Robinson, he would be in the top of a young pitch pine, winding up his clock and chiding all imaginary spectators, soliloquizing and talking to all the universe at the same time — for no reason that I could ever detect, or he himself was aware of, I suspect.
“At length he would reach the corn, and selecting a suitable ear, frisk about in the same uncertain trigonometrical way to the topmost stick of my wood-pile, before my window, where he looked me in the face, and there sit for hours, supplying himself with a new ear from time to time, nibbling at first voraciously and throwing the half-naked cobs about; till at length he grew more dainty still and played with his food, tasting only the inside of the kernel, and the ear, which was held balanced over the stick by one paw, slipped from his careless grasp and fell to the ground, when he would look over at it with a ludicrous expression of uncertainty, as if suspecting that it had life, with a mind not made up whether to get it again, or a new one, or be off; now thinking of corn, then listening to hear what was in the wind.
“So the little impudent fellow would waste many an ear in a forenoon; till at last, seizing some longer and plumper one, considerably bigger than himself, and skilfully balancing it, he would set out with it to the woods, like a tiger with a buffalo, by the same zig-zag course and frequent pauses, scratching along with it as if it were too heavy for him and falling all the while, making its fall a diagonal between a perpendicular and horizontal, being determined to put it through at any rate; — a singularly frivolous and whimsical fellow; — and so he would get off with it to where he lived, perhaps carry it to the top of a pine tree forty or fifty rods distant, and I would afterwards find the cobs strewn about the woods in various directions.”
I can well imagine the behavior of "Thoreau's squirrel " when it came to cobs, albeit in the winter, for I've seen similar behavior with my visiting squirrel when it comes to what he/she does with peanuts upon discovering them in my bird feeder during these dog days of summer. The following pictures show his/her delight once he/she has been able to "grab" one of the legumes.
Moreover, I've also noticing this squirrel holding peanut (as he nibbles on it) in the same manner people hold a corn cob when eating an ear of corm. This behavior can be seen in the mimages directly below.
Upon my noticing this, I'm tempted to put out cobs of corn to see how my squirrel reacts, but, that, as they say is another story. For now, what I have offered are stories about all the aforementioned birds within my book series, Words In Our Beak
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