I love animals, particularly wildlife. I am still awed by the sight of deer in my front yard, opossum & box turtles on my back deck, chipmunks raising across sidewalks and squirrels digging through my flower pots looking for buried peanuts. Competitive hummingbirds vie for the feeder like dog-fighting between Rickenbacker and The Red Baron. I never tire of watching them, so I guess it was only a matter of time before I turned to the animals for socialization.
It started in the summer of 2013. I had always given scraps to the animals. I would throw them toast crusts, broken chips, leftover popcorn, trail mix, peanuts & granola. I noticed the food was gone almost as soon as I put it out. I continued this habit and started noticing one particular squirrel coming to partake of the assorted goodies. I recognized her (yes, I know the difference between male and female squirrels!) because her tail had a "V" split in the tip and her side had an orange spot on it. After she'd finish off the last tidbit she would look toward the door. I was curious to see her reaction so I opened it. She ran off into the closest tree. I was intrigued and wondered if she would ever become less shy. So I continued to watch for her often whenever I put out scraps. After about 6 weeks, Harriet (that's right, I named her!) didn't run off at the sound of the door opening. In fact, she would move closer each time to see if I was going to feed her.
Since I began this post in June of 2014, both of my parents have died. First, my mother in October 2014, then my father in December 2015. During one of my conversations with my brother this past month, I learned that Nanny, my maternal grandmother, had an affinity for feeding wildlife, in particular, squirrels. Apparently she would hold peanuts in her hand and wait for the squirrels to come to her to take them from her. I never knew this! I can certainly believe it, though, seeing how I am the same way. My grandmother died when I was only 3 years old so I never knew her like my older siblings did. I've been told I look just like her, but knowing that she was also a "squirrel whisperer" makes me smile.