The squirrel population around our home seems to be on the increase. One of their favorite pastimes is gathering nuts from my neighbor’s trees and relocating them to my yard. For years this has been happening with acorns, resulting in me pulling up tiny oak trees each spring.
Now they’ve added hickory nuts to their menu, as my bare feet frequently encounter empty half shells in my lawn. Though they try to bury their treasures, my sod is too thick for them to have much success.
These squirrels are increasingly comfortable around humans, too, no longer scurrying away as I approach. Last week, while moving a sprinkler, I saw one squirrel furiously pawing at my grass attempting to dig a hole at the base of a Maple tree — and having some success in doing so.
I approached him to scare him off. He was not deterred.
Forty feet away and he stopped digging to give me a long look, not fearful, but amused.
Thirty feet away and he paused to give a long and vigorous scratch to the back of his head; I think he was grinning at me.
Twenty feet away and he rolled over on this back, but not in a posture of submission as some animals do. He shimmied from side to side, rubbing his back on the hole he was boring, feet flailing in the air with unabashed jubilation. I’m sure he was laughing at me, daring me to come closer.
Ten feet away and he scampered around the tree trunk, poking his head out to watch my approach.
I circled the tree and he did the same, climbing up several feet so we could look each other in the eye. I think he was enjoying this.
We played hide and seek for awhile and then I couldn’t find him. Eventually looking up, I spied him perched on a branch, looking down on me from a safe distance.
I instructed him sternly to stop digging holes in my lawn. I think we have an understanding.