Unburied Nuts from 23rd December 2006; "Not a Creature Was Stirring"

on Sunday, December 23, 2007

What Creature Stirred and Left These Mysterious Trails....


photocredits: Deep river


"Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse…….."

(Excerpt from poem by Clement Clarke Moore; 1822)


Snow had fallen thickly during the night and the wind had blown fiercely with its own melancholic howling through the trees. I was glad to have
been tucked in bed that night safe and snug. Christmas was a couple of days away and when I drifted off to sleep, I was soon in a dream world filled with the visions of the expected wonders of warm fellowship and the joys of the season.

I awoke the early the next day while the morning light was still dim, feeling fully rested and fresh. I excitedly went to my small basement window and as expected the night’s
storm had dusted everything with an inch or two of snow, creating a wonderland. The distant street lamps were still able to cast sufficient light on the newly fallen snow that everything seemed to sparkle like diamonds.


It was then I realized that someone had already been up and about before my eyes had opened to the new day. Just in front of the window was a wooden walkway and a small bush. Both were coated in snow but clearly visible all around them were tiny tracks. Spikey had already come by.

Grey Squirrels do not hibernate. They remain active during winter and are most active during the daytime when it is warmer. I had continued to feed Spikey during winter with nuts. Initially, I left them in a pile on the wooden walkway. However, I soon realized this exposed the poor creature to the blowing wind. I eventually found a large rock that was suitable as a feeding table because it had a shallow hollow on its top surface which was ideal for placing the nuts. I placed it next to a small bush.


I had chosen the bush because its network of leaves and branches created a scaffold for the snow to layer upon creating a snow igloo of sorts with the interior spacious
and ice-free. Spikey was able to enter and shelter under the snow-covered bush and feed while reasonably protected by the elements. The bush was also within easy view of my window which enabled me to observe squirrel behavior throughout the winter.


At the Feeding Station

photocredit: drroz2



Drawing from Anonymous. Animal Tracks, Stackpole Co., 1954.



The tracks of the grey squirrel in the snow is fairly easy to recognize and has been described as the double exclamation marks, “!!”. This pattern stems from the gait of the squirrel who first plants its two small front paws in the snow and pushes himself forward before his hind legs land in the snow, just ahead of where the front paws first was planted. The long strokes of the double exclamation mark is made by the relatively long hind paws while the front paws provide the periods for the exclamation mark.


For me, seeing a trail of “!!” was a real heart warmer on a cold winter’s morning.



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28 comments:

mago said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family! Best wishes.

Gledwood said...

O! I was wondering what teletubby critter had left those odd marx in the snow... I shoulda known!

Do you do much with Xmas?

I don't!

but if you do:

here's wishing you a Very Merry One indeed

and a fantastic 2008!

from
Gleds
"Vol 2"...

;->...

squirrelmama said...

'Twas 2 days before Christmas
And somewhere in this world,
I found my heart warmed
By the Lone Grey Squirrel...

Out in the snow,
he knew that it mattered
To see small "exclamation points"
mark a hungry pitter-patter

For those of us partial
to the whole Squirrel Nation
Nothing's sweeter at Christmas
Than a full feeding station!

- with apologies to the stirrings of greater poets than I

LGS, you have outdone yourself with your photos and tale of Spikey (a mighty expressive face on that fellow too, I might add). I have seen prints in the snow for many years but now know why they arrive with such a glorious emphasis - they are EXCLAMATION POINTS!

Dave said...

Have a great Christmas Calvin!

daysgoby said...

Happy Holidays to you and your family, Calvin!

thethinker said...

Aww... how cute! I like how you described it's tracks like exclamation points. They really do look like that.

Claire said...

We had such an enormous crop of acorns this year, I can't believe the squirrels still visit my feeder, but they do. I watched an intrepid little fellow hang upside down by his back feet while raiding the feeder with his front paws. He loads up with sunflower seeds, swings back to the tree, sits up and porks out. So adorable, I took tons of pictures and he didn't even mind.
I love how you helped Spikey get through his winter. No snow here, so our squirrels have it a bit better.
Merry Christmas LGS!!

CS said...

I love squirrels. There are several that chase each other around and around the trees in my backyard and I just love watching them.

Marry Christmas and peace to you this season!

leslie said...

Merry Christmas, Calvin! Have a blessed day remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season. God Bless!

meggie said...

LGS I enjoyed reading about your little friend.

I wish you & your family a Joyous Christmas.

Cheryl said...

Wonderful post! Have a beautiful Christmas LGS.

Margaret said...

I never knew that squirrels prints had the back feets in front of the fronts.

Now I'll know when I go outside and wonder what has been around and stirring up things.

Merry Christmas Eve LGS.

blackcrag said...

And from the first picture I was going to guess a rabbit. I should have known better.

Keep your bushy tail up around your face and neck! It's going to be cold out there for a while.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and hoping all good things come your way next year.

evalinn said...

Oh cute! Merry Christmas LGS!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

mago,
Thanks and a blessed Christmas to you and yours.

gledwood,
Thanks Gledwood. I do celebrate Christmas.. Had a Christmas eve dinner and caroling and a church service on Christmas day. May you have a blessed Christmas and a great 2008.

squirrelmama,
Thanks for the wonderful poem. I am humbled by such effort. Have a great and blessed Christmas and a wonderful 2008.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

dave,
Thanks and the same to you.

jess,
Blessed Christmas to you and yours.

thethinker,
Blessed Christmas to you and yours. !! !! !! !!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

claire,
squirrel photos are my favorite kind. blessed Christmas.

cs,
Ah, peace, that wondrous yet illusive thing was indeed why Christ cam eto the world. May His peace that passes all understanding be yours now and in the new year.

leslie,
thank you and the same to you.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

meggie,
thanks and have a blessed Christmas and wonderful 2008.

cheryl,
Thank you so much and have a wonderful Christmas too.

margaret,
Glad to have been able to enlighten about squirrel paw prints. Have a blessed Christmas and wonderful 2008.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

blackcrag,
you should indeed have known better! May your Christmas be blessed and 2008 be a better year for you, my friend.

evalinn,
blessed Christmas.

my backyard said...

You're a good friend to Spikey!

heiresschild said...

aaahhh, i love this story. makes me think of the squirrel that was lost in the snowstorm a few years ago who i prayed for that i shared with you the first time i visited your blog.

i hope you had a wonderful Christmas LGS.

my link info has changed, so when you click on my name, it'll take you to my blog and you can get the new link info there. the present link you have for me is obsolete.

Gina said...

WOW...I loved this post. It was actually comforting to read it. So good of you to think about the wellbeing of the grey squirrel, to go to lengths to provide a nice little hut for it to enjoy dinner in.

I had suspected it to be a wabbit.

Thanks!

xDashofPanachex said...

yeah, I was guessing rabbit too. oh well!

tsduff said...

I adore your squirrel notes ;) It's so great to hear things like that. great post. Now where is the crow?

jmb said...

Hi LGS,
I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas celebration. Thanks for your good wishes. I did enjoy this post. I love squirrels although they are considered a bit of a nuisance here but I look out my window and see them darting through me trees and unfortunately digging holes in my lawn to bury their nuts. Still they have to live too.
Happy new year to you in 2008.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

my back yard,
Thanks but I was just under the spell of a professional smoocher.

sylvia,
I remember that story. I'll look for you at your new blog home.

gina,
Hmmm. I will have to look up rabbit to see what the spoor mark looks like but of course squirrel is much smaller than rabbit.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

xdashofpanachex,
thanks for your visit and for leaving your guess. Don't be a stranger in these here parts.

tsduff,
What would a squirrel know to write about crows? Surely, I should be visiting you for such insight (and indeed I have)! ;)

jmb,
thanks. I alway enjoying your avatar's cute face popping up here.

Molly said...

How can anyone not love a man who loves and is kind to squirrels! Love you LGS!

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