“Be like the squirrel, girl. Be like the squirrel.” The White Stripes
When I was 16, the White Stripes released the song “Little Acorns”. My best friend Christan turned it on the car. Squirrels, and all their quirks, had won me over years before. The song was a tribute to the rodents that captured my heart. The introduction tells the story of Janet, a woman who lost everything, saw a squirrel preparing for winter, and had the courage to carry on. Squirrels have a method to their madness. Squirrels earn the title scatter-brained. They purposefully scatter their food while keeping a map in their mind of their nuts. However, because of other scavengers and good-old forgetfulness of squirrels, we get more trees. As a person who tends to forget a lot, it delighted me when I found out a squirrel’s forgotten nut becomes a tree. I hope a few of my thoughts and actions have planted seeds that sprouted into goodness unbeknownst to me.
They dart and dash like maniacs to avoid predators. Cars are still a challenge. Like my furry friends, I have a habit of stockpiling food in my cupboard and in my mouth. I squirrel away food in my cheeks. My wife will ask the question she already knows the answer to by looking at the bulge on my face, “Are you eating a chocolate almond?” I try to fool her by looking away and acting oblivious without success.
As a sophomore, I was walking in between classes on my college campus when a squirrel perched on a building stopped me in my tracks. The squirrel was wearing a black radio collar. Coincidentally, during my first couple years at Texas A&M, wildlife researchers studied squirrels on campus. I happened to snap a few pictures and fell deeper in the love with the critters.
Good friends support your squirrelly ways. My friend Josh and I had a running joke about my plan for world domination with the help of my squirrel army. When I left my job in New York, Josh photoshopped a picture of my squirrel army taking over the office.
Before I met my in-laws, my wife told me that her mom had an unpleasant run-in with a rogue squirrel in her kitchen. She was understandably traumatized by the animal and the memory. When my wife and I visited the Grand Canyon last summer, the first sign we saw warned of the most dangerous animal: the squirrel. We immediately texted my wife’s mom.
I get it. I, too, will become aggressive if you feed me something I like and then refuse to give me more. A few Christmases ago, my mother-in-law gifted me a card with a squirrel on the front, a sweet gesture I have not forgotten.
A requirement of being awkward is owning an assortment of animal paraphernalia. Over the years, as I voiced my enthusiasm for squirrels, I have been gifted paraphernalia that is proudly displayed throughout our house. My wooden squirrel sits by our house plants in the window. The squirrel pillow chews its nut on a chair in our bedroom. The squirrel holder keeps my rings safe in the bathroom. The squirrel card hangs on our fridge. The squirrel finger puppet sat atop our Christmas tree and now waits for winter on our dresser.
Missing from the above pictures is my squirrel cookie jar, which I tried and failed to sneak in our car to Canada.
Right after I finished writing this post, my sister messaged me with the following picture and wrote, “Tiffany, there must be a squirrel army out there for us just in cast. Haha.” We gladly swerve for squirrels and any other animal.