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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The squirrel traversed the small limb almost out to the end. Reaching down, he (assumed gender) nipped the end off with very sharp teeth and started carrying the branch back toward the tree's trunk. Just before reaching this initial goal, the forked branch tip in his mouth caught on small twigs on either side of his pathway.

He backed up and tried several times to manhandle - or in this case, squirrel-handle - the stick through, even trying several angles of passage. Now I don't know if this particular denomination of squirrel was inclined toward obscene or vulgar chatter, but from appearance it seemed almost to be at that point of frustration.

Finally after nipping off part of one fork it pushed on through and carried it's burden to the very top of the tree. Then several things became evident - 1 - the rodent seemed to be building a nest - 2 - it had only just begun, as only a few foundation sticks had been laid and - 3 - the animal didn't have much building experience because it was building on the very tips of limbs, as opposed to a stronger branch fork.

The winter breeding season of the gray squirrel is usually from Dec to Feb, and this particular sighting was in late Feb. This seemed to be a bit tardy for nest building, but not knowing the squirrel mind, one of any number of scenarios could have been taking place.

He may have been sharing the nest of a friend, acted a bit too nutty and got booted (or pawed) out to fend for himself. He could have been having difficulty at the home nest (like too many squirrel-ettes) and decided to build another for peace and quiet. It might even have been a speculation nest he was building to trade for a few extra acorns.

Then maybe it wasn't a nest at all, but a viewing platform or a turnaround point for the squirrel winter Olympics. The main event for this occasion would be the speed tree climb - held on deciduous trees in winter so no leaves would block the view.

This race originally started at the top of the tree, running to the ground and back to the top. But as this event became more popular with spectators and participants, the start - finish line was moved to the ground, because the small limbs at top kept bending and breaking, casting squirrel-dom viewers in a cascade of downward trajectories. Thus proving that gravity still works, even for squirrels.

Much of this latter information, as you have probably deduced, comes from my very active imagination.

The reason behind whatever the squirrel was doing is not very clear to me, but I do know that he was not acting with very much choice. Its actions were dictated by inbuilt genetics that required no deductive reasoning.

Humans seem to be the only animal (some of these being a bit wilder than others) that can choose to go through life without a purpose or reason, other than living off the labor and/or fortune of others - by begging, borrowing or stealing. The better choice is to work and supply your and your family's needs. The best choice is to not only do that but to yield your life and energy to accomplish the purpose and reason for which God placed you in this world.

Without God, our lives will get a little squirrelly and we could wind up a real nut case. ec


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