Room for one more

Squirrel Heaven

Have you ever squirreled anything away? I have.

In the year prior to my 50th birthday I squirreled away every $5 note I received. By the time my birthday arrived I had stored over $1000: enough to purchase a charm bracelet to mark the achievement of a half-century. Now, almost a decade and a half later, it would be impossible for me to repeat the process. From using cash for most purchases at the dawn of this century, I now use mainly card and rarely carry cash. How quickly and, unless giving thought to it, almost imperceptibly the changes occur.

To some, the differences in the seasons in the part of Australia in which I live are subtle, with the changes almost imperceptible, at least when compared to the four distinct seasons occurring in many other places. However, changes do occur and are obvious to those who are attuned to them, especially the Indigenous Peoples of Australia.

I was reminded of this when listening to A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, a book recommended and referred to numerous times by Charli Mills. I second her recommendation.

A Sand County Almanac

The book is divided into twelve chapters. In each chapter Leopold describes the subtle differences that occur from month to month in the environment around his home. I marvel at the detail of his observations and the knowledge that he gleans from subtle changes. In March he says,

“A March morning is only as drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese.”

He then goes on to say,

“I once knew an educated lady, banded by Phi Beta Kappa, who told me that she had never heard or seen the geese that twice a year proclaim the revolving season to her well-insulated roof”,

and asks,

“Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth?”

Sadly, I think many of us, myself included, are aware of the fluctuations in temperature and the coming of the storm season, but not so attuned to the habits of animals and seasonal variations in plants. The majority of our native trees are evergreen and, in our insulated and insular cities, changes in the natural world are less obvious. Indeed, many seasonal changes are obscured by artificial means.

In cooler climates animals have adapted to the changing seasons in various ways. Some migrate; some, such as squirrels, store food for the winter; and some hibernate.

While some Australian birds, moths and other animals migrate, I am not aware of any squirreling away large stockpiles of food to see them through the cooler seasons (please inform me if there are any I should know about); there is but one native Australian mammal hibernator, the mountain pygmy possum.

I have been thinking of this in relation to the flash fiction challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week. While Anne Goodwin, blogging at Annecdotal may have instigated her thinking about squirrels, Charli included the metaphorical as well as rodent  variety.

Until visiting in London in 2014 I had not seen a squirrel as they are not native to Australia and, until checking just now and finding this article, was not aware that any had been introduced here. I saw many cute grey squirrels in parks and gardens in London and I was quite fascinated by the tiny creatures.

© Norah Colvin 2014

© Norah Colvin 2014

However, I was disappointed to find that they are not natives to the UK either, but introduced from North America in the 19th Century, and are doing just as much damage to the native fauna as are many introduced species here. At least when I visited Hamley’s, the most amazing toy store, the only toy squirrels I could find were red, the native kind.

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

The squirrel toy was purchased to add to others collected as mementoes of countries visited; and joined my panda from Beijing and hedgehog from Belfast.

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

© Norah Colvin 2016

In a couple of months, I am accompanying my grandchildren and their parents on a quick visit to Los Angeles and New York. I am determined to expand my soft toy collection, but am wondering which animal might be an appropriate choice. If you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear it please.

Meanwhile, back to Charli’s challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a squirrel. It can be about a squirrel, for a squirrel or by a squirrel. Think nutty, naturalistic, dinner or ironic. Go where the prompt leads and don’t forget to twirl with imagination.

I decided to go with the theme and make my own toy story.

toy box

One more?

They knew when she left – airplane tickets in one hand, luggage in the other – that it meant only one thing.

“Time to plan,” announced Kanga, the original and self-proclaimed leader.

“It’s too crowded!” moaned Little Koala.

All stuffed in the box inhibited thought.

“Right. Everybody out,” said Rabbit, taking over.

Squirrel, last in, was first out, twirling her tail.

Soon everyone was out, exchanging opinions. Inevitably disagreements erupted. Ever patient Kanga quietened them.

“We always make room. We will adjust. We will welcome the newcomer. Once we all were different. We still are. But we learn to get along.”

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

41 thoughts on “Room for one more

  1. Pingback: Norah Colvin

  2. julespaige

    I was a tad distracted and completely missed this prompt. I really like what you’ve done here.
    I think you could make a children’s story book about the basket and the welcome of each new addition. Really I do!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. Sarah Brentyn

    Haha! You sound just like my little one. I told him we would have to take his bed out of his room if he got any more stuffed animals or books. 🙂 I love squirreling away little bits of money here and there…it really adds up. Have a wonderful trip. I think any animal you wouldn’t want to stare in the eye (sign of hostility) would be appropriate for New York. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Your little one sounds like my grandchildren too. They have a house full of stuffed toys and books, then they come here and play with my stuffed toys and books; and their mother said the other day that the only toys they need more of are stuffed toys! They play so imaginatively with them, making up their own games and worlds. It’s delightful, and a pleasure to be invited to join in. We’ll probably all be looking for stuffed toys in NY. Thanks for your tip. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. Sacha Black

    Lovely post Norah. I agree that the shift in weather in the UK is becoming more subtle. This past winter we barely had a winter. I don’t recall wearing a jacket more that a handful of times (although I am a hot person generally) the point remains the seasons everywhere are becoming more muted. Environmental change, damage were doing I guess.

    Not sure on the native american animals, although I do hope you enjoy your trip. New York is one of my fave places in the world

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Sacha. I can’t imagine not wearing a jacket in the UK winter. I wore one throughout the summer when I was over there, and I’m a hot person too! The damage we are doing to the environment is not a good thing. We need to make bigger changes.
      I am starting to get excited about my trip to LA and NY, though it’s still a while away.

      Like

      Reply
  5. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    A lovely post on many levels. Amazing how much you can save just by saving $5 notes. I’m like you though and you don’t get change with cards. I will have to put the Leopold on my reading list. I’m intrigued by your description. Have a wonderful trip to the USA. July isn’t that far off and lucky you will miss some of our winter. What animal to buy – I was going to say a rattle snake – not too cuddly but keep those other stuffies on their toes. Coyotes and woodpeckers are also possibilities. Your flash I thought was lovely and your last paragraph is a message that we in this country should take to heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for your encouragement, Irene. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post.
      Charli has been telling us so often about Leopold that I just had to read some of his work. I wasn’t disappointed.
      Geoff, too, suggested a snake. I’m pleased we don’t have those rattlers here. Coyotes and woodpeckers are also interesting thoughts. I can see it’s going to be difficult to choose. Thanks for your suggestions.
      I’m pleased you saw the message in my story. I did plant a few in there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Pingback: Squirrels in the Vicinity « Carrot Ranch Communications

  7. Charli Mills

    Oh, Norah, that’s such a cute flash! I can just imagine your soft animals resigning to the fact that you’ll be bringing home a new stuffed critter from your travels. Clever perspective! And I’m so delighted you experienced Aldo Leopold. He’s had a huge impact on my writing. I used to feel self-consciousness about my nature awareness and even had a high school teacher berate me for it (no one wants to hear about mountains). Then I took a Nature Writing course in college and it was where I felt I belonged. That evolved into feature writing about farms and local food systems which became my beat. I even had a column one time. It means so much to me that you took time to read/listen to Sand County Almanac and found topics that resonated with you! So…your next critter could be a bison or a grizzly bear. Would the toys be up to such selections? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you enjoyed my childish flash.
      I am grateful for your persistence in mentioning Leopold. I had no choice but to go there, and am so pleased I did. I can see the similarities between your writing style and his, and you share the same awareness and love of nature. I appreciate nature as a whole, but I miss so much of the detail. It is lovely to be reminded of it now and again. It’s why your posts and your Elmira Pond spottings are always so enjoyable to read. That high school teacher didn’t know the half of it. Fortunately you went on and found your niche in nature.
      A bison or a grizzly bear – now that’s interesting thinking. They would have to play friendly. Are bison plant eaters? They might be safe companions. I thought perhaps not a bear. We have so many teddy bears. But a grizzly. Hmm. I’ll have to see what’s available. Thanks. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  8. Bec

    I love the FF! It’s very sweet. But I have to correct you – we saw squirrels in Northern Ireland in 2006! They were frolicking around at the zoo. I also didn’t know you were reading Leopold. He is an amazing writer. I especially love “Thinking like a Mountain”.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Well, I thought they were chipmunks frolicking around in Belfast Zoo. One of us must be mistaken! Oh well, whichever, it’s still only a few short years ago!
      Leopold is an amazing writer. I very much enjoyed listening to his words. What a wonderful appreciation of nature he expresses. It’s magnificent.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  9. TanGental

    well you need FAO Schwartz in NY on 5th near the start of Central park. There you need a cuddly snake – the Vet’s fav cuddly and apposite for an Ozzie. And if you have time go the ice cream bar and share one of their concoctions…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for the tip, Geoff. I just checked what FAO Schwarz is, and I notice it is closing on July 15. I’m not sure if I’ll get there in time, but I’ll try. A snake is an interesting idea. As is the ice cream. Can’t wait!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  10. thecontentedcrafter

    I too have collected cash bits and squirreled them away every year [until recently for the same reasons you cite] It always paid for a special Christmas treat for my family. Now it takes me two years to accumulate $100 and I squirrel every bit of cash that comes my way!

    Completely off subject Norah, inspired by looking at your photo of your collectibles, I have to tell you that Siddy also owns two of your toys. He has that very same rabbit and your hedgehog. His two are not so pristine as yours, due to being dragged around by ears or nose and ‘fetched’ vigorously with appropriate shakings and tossings and pouncings. They also serve as comfy head rests when he is tired. Siddy also has a toy box, which is [over]due a tip out and having everything of the soft variety put through a washing cycle!

    And now to the meat of this post – you are so right and it is made so easy for us to lose contact with the natural world. I think it is part of the reason for the disrespect of nature that is so prevalent. I know for myself having my Siddy and walking every day has brought me into a renewed appreciation for ‘outside’ and honed my observation skills too. I met a young woman – aged maybe 30 or so – just recently, She appeared intelligent and well educated. Not only did she not know that the moon moves through phases every month, she also wasn’t sure which direction the sun rose every morning. I wonder how many there are like her.

    Your posts always give me lots to think about and comment on Norah 🙂 I’ll be interested to see what soft toys you choose from your visit to the US.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your lovely comment, sharing experiences, Pauline. Squirreling cash away now would be more difficult for a number of reasons!
      I was pleased to hear that Siddy has some of the same toys as mine. The rabbit probably belongs to Bec in reality (she had a collection at one stage) but he’s been better accepted in the toy box than in the Australian outback! The hedgehog is cute, and I’m pleased that Siddy has been having fun with his.
      I think getting to walk them is probably one of the best reasons for having a dog. I could probably do with such an excuse to get me outside. I walk indoors with my Wii fit, but I can peek outside from my walking spot (I know it’s not the same). I love it when we go somewhere to walk in the bush or along the beach. Now is the right time for me. I don’t like it when it’s too hot!
      I am stunned that someone wouldn’t know where the sun rises or sets, or that the moon changes each night. It is a very sad reflection on what we are teaching, or not teaching, in the curriculum. It really adds strength to Aldo Leopold’s words.
      Thank you for your supportive comment. I’m pleased you enjoy my posts. I enjoy sharing them and receiving the discussions in return.
      I think there are many animals in the US. It might be difficult to choose. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  11. Annecdotist

    I was interested to learn that all your native trees are evergreens – I really appreciate the changing seasons here although this is partly from the comfortable position of having a degree of flexibility over which days I go outside.
    I like your flash about the toys – it reminds me of the film Toy Story, which I’m sure you know.
    The possum is very cute and nicely paired with Morning from Greig’s Peer Gynt – very appropriate.
    And yeah, it’s always special to see a red squirrel as they’ve disappeared from most of the country thanks to the invasion of their American cousins.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      They are mostly evergreen. I’m not certain about “all”. Maybe down south some would be deciduous.
      The little possum is very cute and, I agree, the music paired with it was lovely.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed my flash. I do know the Toy Story movies. I quite enjoy having another excuse to watch them now with my grandchildren.
      I looked back through your recent posts a couple of times trying to find where you mentioned the absence of red squirrels but couldn’t locate it. Sorry. I had hoped to link to it. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  12. Steven

    The (presumed) kiwi at the left of your soft toy box is very cute. I like how your story is about that very toy box. My son has a collection of stuffed toy vegetables, which started with broccoli and now includes corn, carrot and a few others (which I can’t recall). I don’t know how that fascination came about but I guess one can’t complain on the health-related aspect of it.

    One other thing we don’t really perceive anymore (at least in the cities anyway) are the night sky. We may notice the significant motions of the Moon and some of the brighter planets, but with the amount of city light pollution today, we tend to miss out on that faint background reference that lets you finely track that movement from night to night. The skilled observer may notice it (because they know what to look for), but the average city dweller may only notice it from week to week (and that is if they look up).

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Steven. It is a very cute kiwi. Unfortunately, although New Zealand is a close neighbour, I haven’t been there yet. One day, soon, I hope. So the kiwi is a bit of a ring-in and I had to think for a moment to remember how I came by it. It was a promotional aid for an educational product at a conference attended by some of my work colleagues. You probably didn’t need to know that, but I needed to remember!
      Thanks for telling me about your son’s stuffed vegetables. I haven’t seen many of those, but what a great idea. It reminds me of a story I wrote for my son when he was young about the vegetables running away from home because he didn’t like them. Sadly I seem to have misplaced all my earlier writing in our last move. Hopefully in the next move I’ll rediscover them. I hope your son enjoys eating his veggies as much as playing with them!
      It’s very true what you say about the night sky. The night sky app is wonderful for identifying objects in the sky but, having never navigated by the stars, I’m not good at identifying any other than the most obvious. What a glorious site the night sky is when away from city lights. It was particularly brilliant from Uluru. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

      Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      It was fun because I had a goal in mind, but sometimes it was difficult to not take them out of hiding when funds were short!

      Like

      Reply

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s