A few years back, a BBC television series called Daylight Robbery featured squirrels performing hair-raising stunts worthy of the eight actors who played James Bond. The producers claimed their star was just an average squirrel off the street. Could this program have been the beginning of the reality show craze? We here at the edge of the wood know that no squirrels would sink that low. We often wonder why humans do. Here is our little star sharing a quiet moment with a red-bellied woodpecker amongst the green swan plant blooms and the pebbly osage orange and leafy eucalyptus.
What animal doesn’t like a nice sunny day in the winter? Mike Bottini, East End naturalist, wildlife ecologist, and Long Island River Otter Project manager reminds us to put our bird feeders in a place where the first rays of dawn can reach them. Birds will find the combination of food and warmth irresistible. But do squirrels actually need sunlight? The good folks over at Squirrel Rehab tell us that squirrels, like humans, can get can weak bones if they don’t get the proper amount of vitamin D from the sun. Sitting by the window will not do, so put down that video game-ipad-not-so-smart-phone, grab your binoculars, get outside, and make sure all the animals are getting their supply of sunshine. You’ll be doing yourself a big favor.
National Squirrel Appreciation Day, celebrated January 21, was founded in 2001 by North Carolina wildlife rehabilitator Christy McKeown. Richard Thorington of the Smithsonian Museum gives us some ideas how to celebrate here, but we suggest putting some extra special food treats out. It’s the middle of the winter and all our animal friends have a long wait until spring. Why bother? Well, not everyone is as lucky as you. Seth Kugel writes in the New York Times, “Amazed visitors from many countries say they have never seen squirrels before…hordes of tourists stop en masse to snap pictures. One such newcomer was a squirrel novice when she emigrated from Beijing 14 years ago. ”I only knew these animals in the cartoons,” she said. Minutes later, a group of young tourists from the Philippines stopped. ”It’s considered a rodent here, right? We’re fascinated by it.” Here we see a red-bellied woodpecker and a blue jay getting ready for the big day.
William Wegman, painter, photographer, video artist taught us how to look, really look at a dog. He gave his beloved Weimaraners a job and they thrived. “My Weimaraners are perfect fashion models. Their elegant, slinky forms are covered in gray – and gray, everyone knows, goes with anything.” he said. His ground breaking conceptual large format polaroids starring Fay Wray poked fun at us and our times with a serious deadpan dog face. The squirrels would like Mr Wegman to know they are available for modeling gigs immediately.
In the words of the great visual artist Chuck Close, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work… But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you… Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.” Here we have a chipmunk applying Mr. Close’s principles. We thank Mr. Close for his… uh… inspiring thoughts and enlightening works of art. Here at the edge of the wood we wish you all the joy of a job well done.