“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” Erma Bombeck
A day of huge celebration here, lots of f words …fireworks, food and flags and fun. We will be out and about, seeing friends, having a few drinks and generally having some of that fun… and no doubt a bit of “footling” too. I wont be doing much drawing today if any.
Yesterday I had noticed there seemed to be even more squirrel antics than usual. No doubt, like the flies they are excited by the prospect of rich picnic pickings over the weekend. A whole gang of them were chasing each other through the branches of the big oaks and performing those impossibly daring high wire dashes along the power cables that criss cross the main roads. I know they are a pest in some respects, they do eat your attic timbers and perhaps if we had known about the rampaging Winter Park “attack squirrel” of a couple of years ago we might not have been so keen to move here.
A couple of months ago there was alarm and consternation in the Uk where of the glossy black squirrel is threatening to stage something of a take over. It is big, handsome, aggressive and super sexy with some DNA missing and apparently a very bad attitude to dogs. (alleged report of a gang of black squirrels attacking a dog in Russia)
Dr Alison Thomas, a professor of life sciences, from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge has been studying them and found that since early sightings in the south of the UK “they have migrated northwards, penetrating Cambridge city boundaries in the 1990s. Now they make up 50 per cent of the squirrel population in the villages around Cambridge and they are spilling into Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire.”
There is only one solution, to combat these……
….we must make haste to recruit one of these ….
However for now, here in leafy Winter Park the grey squirrel reigns supreme and, occasional jogger attacks apart, they are fun. They are probably at their most winsome when they suddenly stop in mid bound to watch you or peer at you from the branches, showering you with the bits of the nuts or shouting squirrel obscenities at you from the trees. Today as I was cycling through Shady Park one stopped in its tracks on a big grassy bank by the pond. It stood frozen, as if transfixed by some alien ray from space, gazing upwards. I saw nothing, no threat, no lazy circling buzzard, osprey or vulture. Who knows what it might have been thinking, the depths of the squirrel mind are undoubtedly labyrinthine and complex. Then just as suddenly it was off again.
I tried to capture this moment in a quick sketch when I get home and many years ago I painted this illustration for a children’s poetry book.
My tribute to squirrely frolics on this celebration day.