poetry and prose about place

competing with the squirrels #1

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The squirrels and I have issues.  I say squirrels, because we have at least two species of squirrel (Sciurus sp.) on our property, reds and greys.

The red squirrels were here before we arrived, about 31 years ago.  The red squirrels I see here today must be the great-great-great… grandchildren of the little fellow who used to shimmy down a copper wire to get to our feeder.  The grey squirrel arrived only a couple of years ago and is as big as a small cat.  Both reds and greys compete with the birds for the sunflower seeds and other food we put in the feeder.  The two species of squirrels compete with one another for roughly the same ‘niche’ and my reading tells me that the grey squirrels will eventually displace the red.

grey squirrel cleans out feeder

I overlap with the squirrels’ ‘niche’ in one repect: we all love hazelnuts.  I have two large shrubs of Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta Marsh.) in our woods.   Beaked Hazelnut is a wiry shrub with large serrated leaves.  Its fruit is contained in bristly beaked husks and the nut is edible, to both me and the squirrels.

Beaked Hazelnut shrub with hazelnuts in beaked husks

The question is, when do I pick my hazelnuts?  It has to be the day before the squirrels pick their hazelnuts.  I ask my husband every day and he says he doesn’t know…..

hazelnuts viewed from the underside of the shrub canopy

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

© Jane Tims

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