Where have all the squirrels gone?
With apologies to Pete Seeger and Joe Hickerson, who years ago asked, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, I am asking less lyrically, where have all the squirrels gone? Not all of them. Just the ones in my yard. And I’m wondering about the birds, also.
Several weeks ago I noticed an increasing number of acorns in my front yard. My first thought was that the tree might be producing more this year, but I quickly rejected that idea because the lack of rain this year on top of the drought last year would, it seemed me, slow down the tree’s growth and production rather than enhancing it. I decided not to wonder about the acorns because the squirrels would take care of them, anyway, just as they have been doing each year we have lived here.
Not long after first noticing the increase in acorns in the yard, I was sitting at the breakfast table with my wife, both of us gazing out the window to the front lawn. I don’t recall whether I was in the middle of a sandwich or grazing on a salad when the epiphany jolted me.
The squirrels are gone. The birds, too.
When we share a meal at the breakfast table, Carol and I enjoying watching the squirrels at work and play in our yard. All these years, they have entertained us with their antics. They zip up and down the tree trunks, chase each other around the yard, gather acorns, and just seem to enjoy life. But they weren’t there this day, nor had I seen them for some time.
“I haven’t seen any squirrels lately, have you?”
“Now that you mention it, I don’t think I have,” Carol answered. “I wonder why.”
I was wondering, also. In thinking about it, I realized that it had been quite a while since I last saw a squirrel in the front yard. We chewed on our food and the topic of missing squirrels for a time and concluded that it probably had been several weeks since either of us had seen a squirrel in the front yard. Plus, there was the evidence of the acorns now almost as thick as mulch in our yard.
Recently, I have been watching closely out the window of our home office and have noticed a lack of squirrels in the back yard or in the neighbors’ trees. We have seen a couple during morning walks, so I assume that they have not abandoned the entire neighborhood. But I sure wonder where they have gone. I hope not to graveyards everyone.
While noting the absence of the squirrels, I also observed that the birds are no longer there. I haven’t seen any around the feeder in some time and suet I hung up weeks ago is still there. Normally, I can expect to refill my two suet containers about every 10 days or less. I’m guessing it has been a month or so since I last put out fresh suet and only one of the two containers is empty.
Wish I knew what has happened. Two neighborhood cats wander around our yard occasionally, but I doubt they are the cause of the disappearances. First, no self-respecting squirrel would be fearful of either of the cats, certainly not scared enough to hightail it away from here. Second, the cats are no danger to the birds. One is little more than a freeloader looking for a handout and the other is too fat to be quick enough to catch a bird. Besides, the cats have been around when the birds were here, so the cat theory is out.
In wondering where the squirrels and birds have gone, other thoughts crossed my mind. For a long time, the squirrels and birds have been an accepted and welcome part of my life. The squirrels have amused me as well as being helpful by clearing away the acorns. I love feeding the birds, enjoying their beauty, and noting how many different kinds I see. Like many other things in life, they were taken for granted. Then, unexpectedly, they were gone, leaving a void and stirring disappointment. Isn’t that sometimes true of other areas in our life?
Sometimes friends, activities and other things we enjoy in life slowly or suddenly slip away. We may not notice them missing at first, or we may notice immediately. Perhaps we know why and can reinstate them in our life. Perhaps it is a while before we notice; and, when we do, we may not understand what has happened. Our hope, nonetheless, is for their return just as I hope the squirrels and birds return to my yard.
It may be that, like the squirrels and birds who have left the care and feeding available in my yard, you and I have removed ourselves from the shelter and care of our Creator. I hope that the squirrels and birds return to my yard. If they do, I’ll be waiting. The same is true of our Creator.