As I walked across campus this week, I came across a squirrel hastily covering a nut or acorn it had just buried. When it saw me it froze. Caught in the act. We had a staring contest for many seconds. I won. The squirrel scampered off.
Like many kids, I learned early on that squirrels don’t hibernate, and in advance of winter they store food. But I had lived my whole life (until now!) and never actually seen a squirrel doing it. It made me wonder how many other stashes that squirrel has. Will it remember where they all are? Most likely. They bury different caches of food all over the place and use both memory and smell to find it when needed. They can even find their food when there’s a foot of snow on the ground!
Many people don’t much like squirrels, but I do. They are intelligent, playful, and funny. They love a good game of chase or taunt the dog. They are masters at figuring out how to get to the bird feeder. They can leap between branches in a single bound. One squirrel in my yard likes to come look in the window right next to my desk. And, in the deepest days of winter, when the days are short and the rest of the world is resting, the squirrels are out scampering about having a jolly good time. Best of all, not all of squirrels’ buried nuts get dug up, which results in more trees!