It’s been a week since a flock of grackles descended in the trees around my home and unleashed a hailstorm of acorns. I have since learned that acorns are one of the species’ culinary favorites, especially as the iridescent birds begin their migration south.
That being said, they aren’t very neat or efficient eaters. In fact, I don’t think the ’80s band A Flock of Seagulls could have caused this much of a mess in their hotel room, not even during the height of their popularity.
Seven days since their arrival — that’s seven days filled with more grackles, squirrels, and wind — the driveway and path looked as if they were the end-result of some slapstick comedy routine — you know, the one where an innocent passerby (me, for example) slips on some casually placed marbles (or acorns, as the case may be), so that the prankster (or grackle) can have a few laughs.
It’s 8:00 am, and I have swept the walk to my door for the buh-zillionth time, thanks to the squirrels who are ransacking my oak tree for acorns.
They’re also not the neatest nor efficient of eaters. As I sweep, I notice there’s a lot of waste. Mixed in with shards of shells are whole acorns — perfect for tucking away into the nether regions of your cheeks. So I wonder, just what are the squirrels getting so squirrely about?
First, there is the coming winter. There is a belief that you can predict what sort of winter you will have by observing the nuttiness of the squirrel population. It’s as if they are our very own Farmers’ Almanac. If that’s the case, then we are in for an Arctic blast of snow, ice, and below-freezing temperatures — and judging by the acorn debris that is littering my walkway, we may never thaw out. Either that, or my yard will be buried
24 hours later: Not so much.
in an avalanche of acorn shells — Long Island’s very own Pompeii.
Second, I’m concerned about the frenzy. This particular squirrel colony is in hyperactive mode, running and racing up and down trunks, onto branches, nibbling here, nibbling there. The squirrels are not just eating acorns; they are stockpiling them like a cult of the-world-is-ending believers. If they are like this now, what will they be like in December 2012, the notorious date when the Aztecs predicted the world would really end. There may not be enough nuts to satisfy their craving.
Third, and I am completely serious here, I think the squirrels have declared war on us. This nut stuff is just the opening volley. At this time of year, I cannot even stand and have a conversation with my neighbor on the walkway. If I do, I will be
pelted by not only debris, but whole acorns, as well. In fact, I think they are intentionally hurling these whole acorns at me.
You think I’m kidding. Just listen to the sound of a whole acorn falling from the tree and hitting the roof of your car parked on the driveway. It’s like the acorn shot heard ’round the world — and I find it difficult to believe that the velocity is the result of gravity alone. There has to be some squirrel strength behind that acorn. Perhaps the squirrel soldiers have fashioned a sling shot in the upper branches of the tree. Then, “Ready. Aim. Fire.” And each time they hit me or the car, I swear I can hear them giggling.
What to do with my furry frenemies? Trap them and release them to another location? Nah. That only encourages replacements to take up their positions. Cut down the oak tree? Absolutely not. I
Come on, Squirrels. How about a day off?
love the tree more than I dislike the squirrels. For, now I will have to be contented with a broom and a hard hat — and if the neighbors think I’m the nut case . . . Well, we’ll just see who’ll be laughing when the squirrels chase us up into the trees.
In the meantime, a friend found an abandoned baby squirrel and is now rehabilitating it. In addition to sweeping the walkway, I offered to gather acorns to feed this foster squirrel. I must be nuts.