poetry and prose about place

getting the better of … a squirrel?

with 3 comments

At readings of my book within easy reach, I often include the poem ‘beaked hazelnuts’ and tell my audience:

If I don’t pick my hazelnuts by August 6, the squirrels will get there ahead of me. They watch the calendar!


hazelnuts viewed from the underside of the shrub canopy


The Beaked Hazelnut is a wiry shrub found in mixed woods. The edible nut is contained in a bristly, beaked husk. We have three clumps of the shrubs in our yard, probably sprung from the stashes of squirrels over the years!

For my battles with the squirrels over the hazelnuts, just have a look at



This year, I also watched the calendar. And on August 5, I picked most of the hazelnuts on our hazelnut ‘trees’. Picking is tricky because those pods are covered with sticky sharp hairs that irritate thumb and fingers.



Never-the-less, I have a small bowl of hazelnuts to call my own (I left a few for the squirrels, more than they ever did for me). Now I will wait for them to dry and then have a little feast!


beaked hazelnuts

(Corylus cornuta Marsh.)


hazelnuts hang

husks curve

translucent, lime

they ripen


this year, they are mine


uptight red squirrels agitate, on guard, we watch

the hazelnuts ripen, slow as cobwebs falling, nut pies

browning through the glass of the oven door

green berries losing yellow, making blue

dust motes in a crook of light

float, small hooked hairs



two more days



and red squirrels

bury their hazelnuts



From within easy reach (Chapel Street Editions, 2016)


Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

August 9, 2017 at 7:45 am

3 Responses

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  1. Love the idea … our squirrels just gorge themselves on whatever we leave out there for them. They do miss the birdfeeders this year, though.

    Liked by 1 person


    August 9, 2017 at 4:02 pm

  2. Firstly, on behalf of my kin, thank you for your generosity for leaving ‘a few for the squirrels”. However, as you yourself pointed out, we squirrels probably planted the shrubs so it’s really our hazelnuts anyway. Are beaked hazelnuts similar or different from the hazelnuts we normally buy at the supermarket?

    Liked by 1 person

    Lone Grey Squirrel

    August 9, 2017 at 11:45 am

    • Hi. I knew you would have a reaction to my post! Our beaked hazelnuts are a shrubby variety. Most of the store-bought hazelnuts are from a related tree called ‘Corylus avellana’. I do love squirrels and agree we humans are just borrowing from our agricultural furry folk. Actually, I figure the debt is paid, thinking of all the bird feeders the squirrel has raided over the years! 🙂


      jane tims

      August 9, 2017 at 1:27 pm

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