Skip to main content

Whittling Away: Like squirrels, it’s easy to fall into prewinter scurry

November 2, 2018 11:37 am Updated: November 2, 2018 11:45 am


I just finished mowing the lawn for what I hope is the last time this year.

I was planning on doing the last weed whacking, but what was a beautiful sunny, fall day has suddenly turned gray and blustery and the clouds have the look of a cold rain about to happen so the whacking can wait.

So much to do and so little good weather to do it in. It’s that fall frenzy that’s part of our heritage as a mammal.

Warm-blooded critters are programed to prepare for the coming of the hungry time. Squirrels are probably the best example of the extent fall frenzy can go.

These normally fairly cautious rodents just seem to lose it all together. Their usual tail bobbing loping hops across the yard have turned into a frantic scurry that has no logic to it.

Back and forth through the falling maple leaves they dash. I watched a couple of large gray squirrels under the oak tree in our little woods stuffing acorns into their faces and dashing around in the leaves — sometimes running up a tree and stuffing the nuts into a woodpecker hole near the top, sometimes burying it under the leaves probably never to be seen again, but probably explains the saplings that come up every spring.

All the dashing around seems to cause so much stress that the poor fur balls gets suicidal. The fall highways are littered with the little corpses of stressed out squirrels, possums and raccoons that just didn’t know which way to run.

As one who grew up in the far North in the country, I can identify with the feeling of being prepared for the freezing time.

I want to go to the wood shed and get the storm windows out, caulked, painted and hung. The cellar needs to be whitewashed and the shelves for the preserves put up, the wood shed needs to be full of split wood — enough for the coming winter.

The house needs to be banked, hay and straw piled against the foundation to keep the cold air from coming through the laid up stones of the foundation.

We need a couple 50 pound bags of potatoes, a barrel of flour and a 20-pound sack of sugar stored down cellar. One of the pigs has to be killed and butchered. Cut up, wrapped in freezer paper and stored in the freezer, our pork for the winter.

I managed to snap myself back to reality and leave the fall of years gone by. I guess the squirrels aren’t the only ones to be a little unbalanced. Storm windows, I haven’t even seen one in 20 years.

We had new windows put in a couple of years ago, they never need paint, they don’t stick or need caulk. The cellar doesn’t need to be whitewashed, the foundation is weather-tight, our grocery store doesn’t stock potatoes in 50-pound bags nor do they stock flour or sugar in such large quantities and I haven’t killed an animal for food in 50 years.

Maybe winter isn’t so bad after all. I know I’m going to be warm and the market hasn’t run out of food in all the years I’ve been going there.

Maybe this fall, I’ll take it easy, enjoy the colors, rake a few leaves and relax. Nawwww — No Way!

Thought for the week — Grampa wisdom — Birds flying low, there will come snow!

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach Dick Brooks at