Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nutty

I was walking down Fremont Street today when I heard a weird chattering coming from overhead. I looked up and saw a squirrel running down the trunk of one of the big, old trees that grow along the curb.

"Oh," I thought. "Squirrel."

The squirrel chattered again, and was answered from above by an entire Wagnerian chorus of chatters.

"Oh," I thought. "More squirrels."

And then, as in a cinematic version of The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin as re-imagined by Alfred Hitchcock, this furry seething river of squirrels started to swarm down the tree trunk.

You think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. It wasn't two or three or four, it was two or three dozen, all heading madly for the grass upon which I stood, all chattering in a manner that sounded uncannily like a passel of zombies calling for another round of brains.

There are no photos with this post because I did not stop to take photographs. I beat it, looking back over my shoulder as they tumbled downward onto the parkway, chattering. Chattering, chattering. It's still ringing in my ears.

We have a lot of squirrels in this neighborhood. If they have decided to organize, we're in trouble.

83 comments:

JellyDonut said...

Weird! I have never witnessed anything like this. I wonder what this could be about. Maybe the squirrels of the world are staging a revolt. I actually almost ran over one with my car today. Scared the crap out of me.

My word verification is "trublee," btw.

FugueStateKnits said...

Very Hitchcock! So like the Birds...

anne marie in philly said...

uh, what have you been smoking...or drinking...or eating...next thing you're going to tell us the squirrels broke into something from "madama butterfly"...

(shakes her head in wonderment, LOLing all the way)

smooches!

yarnpiggy said...

Ok, that is freaky. And not in a good way.

Rudee said...

Ummm. It sounds like they have organized.

Mrs. Spit said...

Perhaps your squirrels have met up with the Yarn Harlot's?

I swear, the Magpies are organized in my neck of the woods, and the pigeons are their henchmen.

Anonymous said...

Has someone been feeding the little buggers? They can get really agressive about food. I watched a herd of them raid a soccer team treat tray and scare the crap out of the mom who was setting up food for the eight year old soccer players.

kmkat said...

I have never seen a river of squirrels. Makes me shiver to think of it.

Once when we were camping in Yellowstone a red squirrel got mad that we were in HIS campsite. He bombed us with hard little pine cones, which really hurt when they hit one's head.

Abby said...

It's not the N. Koreans that worry me - it's the newly brazen wildlife that keeps me awake at night. The shadow of a turkey vulture crossed my shadow the other day. Where's the dog?!? Look alive, Betsy! Literally!

Lola and Ava said...

And here I thought I was the only "nut" to attract unwanted attention from squirrels. I was "accosted" by two rather hungry, large, and fearless squirrels who took a rather keen interest in my almond pastry in a London park. Very troubling indeed. Personally, I think there is a vast squirrel conspiracy out to get knitters. Better hide the good stuff!

blueyed wench said...

I always new to NEVER trust squirrels. I once had to battle one for my bike (it sat on the seat and refused to remove itself). And I do have pictures of that!

Walden said...

Those squirrels are devious and smart little buggers. Be careful!

Betty said...

This cracks me up. Have you seen the episode called "The Squirrels" from the kid's show "Arthur?" JUST like this!

Jess said...

I was once attacked by one of those furry little dudes. Well, at least he jumped on me and it freaked me right on out.

I survived, but only because he was unorganized.

Kristen said...

I grew up a couple hours south of you on about an acre of yard in a place where that was considered small potatoes. We had about 100 shagbark hickory trees in our side yard. Piss off the squirrels and they'd throw hickory nuts at you. I'm not kidding. So, yes, be very afraid of a squirrel revolt!

Jessica said...

I used to live on Wisconsin at Fremont. I don't remember any organized, killer squirrels but the ones on the U of C campus were freaky. They'd come flying out of the trash cans every time you'd throw something away. *shudder*

junior_goddess said...

Set up the carnival!!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7TEjD6Lhd8

M-H said...

Step one in the squirrel manifesto: Get the humans to blog about us. Tick.

tinebeest said...

Grey squirrels are more than just a threat to red squirrels in the UK. A mate of mine who was postman for a while said his safety training included how to deal with dogs and -somewhat surprisingly to the unitiated- mad squirrels. He told me once he was stopped from delivering the mail at a property because an angry squirrel would not let him get past...

Ciorstaidh said...

(grey) squirrels are scary beggars, even before they get organised *shudders* sounds like you had a lucky escape!

Their cousins in the UK are sadly rare, but red squirrels are much nicer. I was often at the red squirrel sanctuary at Formby Point as a child.

Steel City Knitter said...

Weird. Just weird.

Norm Deplume said...

We had a "friendly" squirrel hold my kids and me hostage in our back yard a couple of summers ago. What is up with those creatures?

Liz said...

I was taking a walk last weekend and was divebombed several times by a redwing blackbird that thought I was too close to his territory. It was too Hitchcockian for comfort!

Emily said...

I had a weird squirrel experience yesterday, too.. although my neighborhood squirrels are probably far enough away from yours to be in a different union. It was first thing in the morning and there on the parkway were two squirrels procreating! Not just doing their little courtship chasing around, but full-on interlocking, right there on the grass.

I high-tailed it out of there, too!

inkberryblue said...

Gosh, this makes me think of Veruca Salt's fate in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I'm glad you're still with us.
x

SusanJane said...

It's "That Time of Year" for squirrels, actually just one of the times since they mate twice a year-- just in case you were worried we'd run out of them. You probably saw two or three females and a few dozen horny, sex-starved males chasing them in lusty desperation. As long as you don't raise your tail in their company you should be safe.
Did you set this on purpose? The word verification is 'furri'. No furri like a rodent scorned, yup.

KnittyLynn said...

It really sounds like Willy Wonka! You must take a peek. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXRt__z8umA

Roxie said...

They were after you, darling. Squirrels love nuts! (I can't believe I'm the first one to say this.)

Knittah said...

Maybe they thought you were holding one of Stephanie's fleeces?

Riin said...

It sounds like maybe all the squirrels in the neighborhood were together for a conference. Uh oh.

Kate G. said...

God heavens, fiber diets really due lead to hallucinations! Or is that hellucinations? Better crochet a few acorns to keep in your pocket.

Rana said...

Today I saw a squirrel making off with a pork chop. So watch out! They're on the move, clearly.

mwknitter said...

I'd also bet that there is someone in that immediate area who feeds them. Years ago, when my younger daughter lived in Allen Hall at UIUC in Urbana, I visited her & we sat in the cafeteria in the English basement (around this time of year - actually probably a bit earlier) - the window sill were about waist high but only a few inches above ground level. There were a lot of trees, mainly evergreens, right outside the windows & I've never seen so many HUGE aggressive squirrels in my life. DD said they were always like that & she was a bit afraid of them. Guess they were used to being thrown scraps by the students.

Susan said...

It must be the international year of the squirrel. We have a plethora of them around here too. My friend refers to them as rats with good PR.

Keep in mind that these critters can carry rabies too and be afraid.

Syd said...

Oh darlin' I hate to tell you, but they do organize! When we lived in Napa we had some Redwood Trees in our back yard. A squirrel tossed a walnut I had set out for them at my dog. Now my old sweet dog had no idea where it came from and ran around very excited. The squirrel enjoyed this so much he kept tossing/dropping walnuts on my dog and chattering and laughing..with in a month the others joined him and they had a grand time. Well, as the years went on, generation after generation of squirrels in those huge Redwoods had taught each new generation to pelt the dogs (also several different generations) while laughing and chattering. My poor hubby could not figure out why we were getting walnut saplings growing out back! (I never did tell him I was giving the squirrels the walnuts)

Anne O'Nymous said...

The Squirrel Paramilitary has progressed to a frightening degree. http://icanhascheezburger.com/2007/12/18/funny-pictures-secret-squirrel-training-facility/

Cat Bordhi said...

Franklin, couldn't you draw us a picture of that river of squirrels? I'll bet it's burned in your mind . . . let us see too! You described it extraordinarily well and I can almost see it myself.

Vanessa said...

Given our collective history of bad behavior toward other species......

Jodi said...

You're absolutely right! I live one block west of Fremont, and it's nuts this year. I saw some relaxing on some lawn furniture yesterday.

Bgstoner said...

You probably should not visit Colonial Williamsburg in VA. I use to work there and they have squirrel gangs. It doesn't help when the tourists think they are tame so they feed them.

kaykatrn said...

My squirrels are trimming the trees! I keep finding little bunches of leaves laying in the grass, not like the wind blew, but like someone in the tree was clipping them and throwing them down! And I am in CA--, so it is spreading!

Why don't I ever get fun word verification words? desorcom????

=Tamar said...

In a complete coincidence, I was
clearing some old email and
found this:

http://tinyurl.com/4yr92u

Squirrel undies.
Making the world slightly safer,
maybe.

nutmeg said...

Wow! I've lived a looong time, & I've seen a fair number of squirrels, but these stories are amazing! Maybe Western Canadian squirrels are still too "rural" for any of these shenanigans? lol

Corinne said...

We have aggressive squirrels living in my neighborhood, about two miles west of yours. They jump out of the garbage cans, and kept my neighbors from entering their garage.

Bobbi said...

Gee, I thought you were going to say that a squirrel crapped on your shoulder...but then I guess that would've been a pigeon.

DianeS said...

Yikes! I sure am glad I live in the country where squirrels are quite aware of various predators and there are various predators to keep them on their toes & in the trees!

knitinsage said...

that happened to me once in college -- streams of scary teen-aged boy squirrels racing toward me -- terrifying!

they've got some nerve in numbers.

Michael Irwin said...

Tola & I used to live in north Philly - the squirrels there were really FAT in the haunches (like a GMC "dually" pickup), and didn't move that fast. Fast, but not that fast.
Now we live in NJ and the squirrels are a lot skinnier in the rear and faster. Aerodynamics ? Different species ?
They do throw nuts at the local humans, tho'.

Anonymous said...

perhaps they mistook you for a shiny super large nut ;)

gayle said...

Perhaps they were lemmings with bushy tails. On angel dust.

Lynn in Tucson said...

Sorry to hear that. But we have coyotes.

la takahashi said...

A similar thing happened to me on the Univ of Wash campus in Seattle. I had a small bag of vending machine peanuts that I was eating as I walked to my next class. I saw a squirrel and in a gesture of generosity tossed it a peanut. mistake. I heard or sensed a sound and looked up and coming down from all the trees around were many squirrels converging towards me!!! It was actually scary. he one at my feet started to get on my shoe I think to climb my leg. I didn't scream but threw down my bag and ran! The experience is very vivid still after 20+ years.

heathers said...

Are you sure you weren't in Toronto? Because there is a squirrel army there too, right by the Parliament buildings. Maybe they're squirrel lobbyists, looking for looser peanut laws?

Jen W said...

Darn it! Roxie beat me to it (I can't quite believe it took that many comments before the inevitable "watch out for your nuts" type of comment! I do feel for you, however, because I have a fear of squirrels jumping out of trees on to my head. It gives me the willies to think about it.

Miss Sandra said...

sounds like they already have...

Bob & Phyllis said...

h-a-a-a-a-t-e squirrels. hate.them.

FLB (furry little b@stards) eat the fruit off my pear, apple and peach trees. My neighbor used to FEED them, too. :(

However, I have a VERY fast basset (yes, I know, oxymoronic, but he IS fast), so now I have no squirrels in my yard, but several in the neigborhood with shortened tails who apparently did not run quite fast enough for the basset.

As long as they stay out of my yard and my trees, I'm happy.
:)
Phyllis

Patti said...

My husband and I were at wildlife park in Adeliaide Australia, when the Kangaroos suddenly got spooked and started all BOUNDING towards us in an earth thundering herd. fortunately they were the smaller kangaroos, NOT the big greys. It was scary, and we didn't dare open the gate in an attempt to escape, or the roo's would have escaped too. So we stood frozen while the bounded all around us, hitting and bouncing off the fence, before heading back the other way. Very odd indeed.

Caryn said...

You should let Stephen King know; he could incorporate it into his next book...

soxanne said...

Beware the rats with furry tails! You are right to be cautious.

Kathleen said...

Were you wearing peanut butter pants?

KGLO said...

Wanted to say that I LOVED your feature in the new Twist Collective. Literature + knitting = Daisy's dream come true!

Eileen said...

If you ever come to Providence (and I hope you do) bring squirrel repellant.

We have one whom DH caught red-pawed (he was stealing lettuce). DH yelled at him to drop it--he did--and the next day, that lettuce plant and the dill next to it were dug up and dead.

Then he came back and bit all the blossoms off of our strawberry plants!

And last year one of them stopped on the neighbor's curb when I said something to him out of a window. He stopped and looked up into my face until I'd finished speaking and them marched straight over to my steps and started eating the Halloween pumpkins there.

I wonder what his gang colors were? Orange, I suppose....

winged unicorn said...

i almost ran over a squirrel when i was out on my bicycle sunday. then it got up, hissed at me and ran off.
when i moved here 8 years ago, i never saw squirrels, now i see 3 or 4 different kinds. they all scare me to pieces.

Beth said...

During our first trip to Chicago, we walked from Millenium Park to the Field Museum. While we were crossing Millenium, a squirrel came running towards us at top speed. We thought it was cute, until we noticed an entire horde bearing down from all directions. There we were, hapless tourists surrounded by the squirrel militia, and us without any food for bribes. Somehow we managed to break through the lines and run for the lakefront. At least then we had the water at our backs.

Berrysmom said...

Hopefully they were committing mass suicide.

Rhonda the Stitchingnut said...

Oh my gosh ... my neighbor & I were just commenting about how strange it is that we haven't seen any small animal lately. Not even a squirrel! I commented that a fisher cat or an owl must be getting them. BUT, you've given me the more sensible answer. They've all left to conjugate in the Chicago area ... they're forming an organized rebellion. Wow!

MsAnnThrope said...

I woke one lovely late spring morning to a scratching noise. I wake up *fast* so I looked to see a squirrel trying to come in my open window (I have no idea why I'd left the screen open a few inches), not a foot away from me. I asked him what he thought he was doing & he inched in a little more! I reached to slam the window down on his little breaking & entering head & he backed out & ran. Little hairball sits on the peak of my porch roof & lounges like the NY Library lions, too...

Theresa said...

I am laughing so hard right now at work that my coworkers are doubting my sanity. THANK YOU!!!

Anonymous said...

This is a message to Frank. I also live on Fremont in Chicago. There is a squirrel, or maybe it's more than one, who is chitting and chatting and hissing at me. I have a pumpkin on my stump and this little rodent thinks my stump is not his territory. A little scary and more than a little weird! Our squirrels on this street are posessed!!!

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