A blog focused on nature, science, environmental topics, and happenings at the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC).

A Naif in the Forest by Darrell Berger

Wing Tips to Hiking Boots: Musings of a New, Full-Time Poconos Resident

This is a grey squirrel. For once I feel confident in my identification. This one is munching seeds fallen from our bird feeder.

They can be destructive, eating away at vegetables, insulation or taking up residence in chimneys. However, they also played a role that was important to me when I lived in the city. They brought a bit of the forest to me.

Violet the Corgi hates squirrels, or so it seems. She takes every opportunity to chase them and is especially outraged when they appear on our deck and eat seeds that she would prefer to eat herself. She stands three inches from the glass slider and barks loudly and constantly until we let her out. Three seconds later the squirrel has leapt from the deck and the natural order has been restored. She is Captain of The Squirrel Patrol.

I’m beginning to think Violet does not, in fact, hate squirrels, and that her constant alarm and pursuit of them connotes instead amusement or entertainment. After all, she doesn’t hunt them, merely chases. She has never come close to catching one, which, if she were truly focused on doing, she surely would have done by now. Of the countless squirrels she has chased, the odds are enormous that there would have been at least one who was really slow, or injured, or otherwise vulnerable.

Likewise, I suspect that squirrels might even enjoy being chased. They repeatedly present themselves to her, unlike rabbits, which scurry away before Violet can smell, let alone see them. Squirrels have no fear of her, what with their perfect record of escape.

Could it be that Violet and the squirrels actually enjoy each other? That all the barking and running and scurrying and climbing are, in the end, something they do for the endless fun of it? I am beginning to suspect so.

The forest can be cruel and scary and implacably oriented to the cycles of life and death. It can be also, at least sometimes, just silly fun. As proof I offer: there are squirrels.



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