Editor's Note: This column was written before Hurricane Sandy rocked the Emmaus Patch. Do you think that the squirrels and other critters out there knew Sandy was coming before we did?
From my office window I have a beautiful view of my side yard. In the spring, it’s filled with colorful blossoms on our pear, cherry, apple and peach trees. The woods are lush with fluorescence. In the summer, our raspberries climb the split rail fence as the garden comes to life with fresh vegetables.
And this time of year is my favorite. Glorious colors literally create a picture perfect "window" as I sit at my desk. But my favorite part of the fall is watching our nature neighbors as they prepare for winter.
Blue jays, cardinals, nuthatches, and tufted titmice flit around from tree to tree, hawks soar past, and I can occasionally spot a deer as it grazes in the lower field with its growing winter coat.
Clearly I’m a nature nut. Many of my columns revolve around our local flora and fauna. I have a sincere appreciation for everything around us, and the opportunity we have to exist together. That’s why I’m now wondering what the squirrels know that they’re not telling us.
I’m used to these little creatures roaming around our property, but this year they seem to be quite ambitious about their nut hunts. On a regular basis I see at least three or four grey squirrels hurriedly roaming and digging, chasing and searching, for the walnuts that fall in our yard.
And then there’s Reds. He’s our resident red squirrel.
Initially I had concerns about Reds living with us as red squirrels are know for their destructive behaviors. But we’ve resolved any worries we had about our property, and Reds has learned to live with us in harmony (for now).
Reds is a bully, though. As I type, there are three grey squirrels roaming the yard and he’s chirping away at them, telling them to get lost.
Despite being three times the size of Reds, the grey squirrels fear him. I wonder what he has that they don’t. Certainly not brawn! Yet Reds patrols the yard as much as he can to ward off his unwanted friends. After all, they’re foraging the same nuts he’s working so hard to accumulate.
All of this has piqued my interest about the correlation between animals’ foraging habits in relation to the upcoming winter forecast. Wooly bears are a common indicator of how harsh our winter will be – or so the wive's tales tell. But what do the squirrels and other animals have to tell us? What are their instincts saying?
With Hurricane Sandy hitting us this week, I wonder if these furry friends of ours had a little more insight than we did, perhaps a "special" connection to Mother Nature that we don’t have.
If that’s the case…what do they know about our upcoming winter that we don’t?!
I'm just so thankful to the little blue jay who kindly plucked all the leaves from our side gutter. He must have known we'd need it this week!