|"You would not happen to have a little morsel of something to eat would you?"|
Recently here in Minnesota we have had a lot of snow. In our state it is safe to say that the weather changes on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. This last week and up to the present, the weather has gone from below freezing (and below zero) to that of rain. The mix of weather always makes for an interesting week, never boring. Living in Winona, here in the Mississippi River Valley, we have bluffs that rise to over 600’ and that alone can make for an interesting drive to the grocery store.
|Bonking Heads "I thought I hit something hard!"|
One of the more likeable things about the weather though, is how the animals around our home cope with the changes that Mother Nature makes. Lately we have had a whole family of little red squirrels outside of our house. Being that they are red makes them rare in this area. Most of the squirrels are either black or grey. Growing up though in south western Minnesota, we had many red squirrels. Competition for territory I understand is fierce for the little creatures. The grey is winning out in many areas, and the red squirrel consequently is dying out. Well, that is not the case around here though. A couple of years ago a red showed up in our meadow, and we fed it the scraps from our table, and that of the fallen sunflower seeds from our bird feeders. Consequently, the red squirrel is about a third bigger than the greys, and twice as big as the black squirrels. It has found no rival for gathering food, but it chooses to live in harmony with the other squirrels.
This last summer was very bountiful in the harvest of nuts, and our food scraps. We now look out our windows and see four little red squirrels running around the meadow. A couple of them live in our woodpile, and the others come from the forest to forage near our home. Having had a lot of snow recently has proven for them to be a challenge though. The little reds haven’t the height to clear the snow as the grownups do in jumping from drift to drift. The little ones have found another method that seems to work just as well though. They borrow through the snow like moles in the ground. Yesterday my 10-year-old son asked me to come to the window, he said, “ Dad, look at all the paths cut through the snow that the squirrels have made!” It looked like miniature hi-ways in the snow. We both laughed at the scene and thought it quite amusing. Later, I noticed a little red squirrel actually cutting a path from the woodpile to the plum tree. It then would climb the tree, look around, and then jump down and run through its new road back to the woodpile again. I watched it do that several times in a row. In observing the unbelievable, I laughed out loud as I watched its tail twitch back and forth very rapidly on the tree limb, it seemed very proud of its accomplishments.
|"Ha ha! This time I made it!"|
Watching the little red squirrels can be very amusing, but seeing a squirrel jump from the wood pile several feet from the house to a 3” electrical box on the side of our home, and then to the tube bird feeder is another story in itself though. It managed to jump the 6 feet up to the feeder, and then hang on to it about ½ half the time. During its other attempts, well lets say that it gives us entertainment in watching it go sailing past our window, doing a summersault to the ground 10’ below. Though rarely daunted with its task, many times it tries again and again. The birds in the trees though do not find it as amusing as they chirp excitedly, scolding their new found competition.
Our home finds much enjoyment in watching the animals from the forest when they come around. Each has a unique character all its own. It is not unusual for instance, to find a possum stopping by at times. Though it does give one quite a start to step out the door and look into the eyes of a giant white rat starring back at you. At other times, it is not uncommon to hear a scream coming from the doorway. I then realize that our white possum has accomplished its task, that is, scaring one of the two ladies in the house. Fortunately for us, it is more afraid of humans than the other way around. At times it seems to relish that of frightening either Anne or Abby, and then it scurries away to its safe haven. My in-laws next door, see the possum go by their deck a number of times in the evening. Their security lights come on, and once in awhile it stops to look in on them. Interesting scenario though, watching a cat on one side of the glass, and the possum on the other, both in a stare down. And so it goes, man living along side that of nature.