And from that improbable title, I will pose the question to blog writers out there: how many blog posts (or "nuts" in my super clever analogy) do you have in draft form at the moment? But first, a little squirrel trivia.
My source is the most expensive book I had to buy in college: "The Encyclopedia of Mammals," edited by Dr. David MacDonald and published in North America by Facts on File, Inc. I paid $62.35 for the heavy tome (about 900 pages), which was a fortune then for a book. Actually, upon reflection, I don't know that I have purchased a book more expensive since. Rather than sell it back to the bookstore (a common practice for a destitute student like myself) for a loss, I believe I kept it out of spite. And now it keeps the other encyclopedias company on the bookshelf. I see I have peculiar taste in this book breed: flags, rocks, dinosaurs, pond fish, etc....I think the only encyclopedias I am missing are: farm animals with spots, soil organisms smaller than 3 millimeters, and rock bands from the late 1970's.
Did you know there are 267 species in 49 genera in the big old squirrel family (Sciuridae)? That's a lot of squirrels, from about 3 inches in the African pygmy squirrel to more than 25 inches in the Alpine marmot. And most people (and bloggers) out there have experience with squirrels as they are found worldwide with the exception of Australia (and thereabouts), the southern part of South America, desert regions like the Sahara, Polynesia, and Madagascar. So to be more succinct about it: they are almost everywhere.
Alaska has more than our share, from my readings of the University of Alaska Anchorage's mammal list, with 17 different species and subspecies from all three groups of squirrel: flying, tree, and ground. Marmots to woodchucks, we've got 'em here. The Red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (and two subspecies), is the tree squirrel we "enjoy" here in the 49th state. I put enjoy in quote marks because frankly, there are plenty of folks out there that don't care for them at all. When they are raiding the bird feeder and spilling an entire bag's worth of seed onto the gravel, even the tolerant Last Frontier Gardener can get testy. I also put it in quote marks because some people enjoy them served on dinner plates. Yes, it's true: squirrels rate their own entry in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's list, where they are rated as "good eating" and their fur is sold in our great state and Canada. I'm afraid I can't attest to their tastiness due to lack of personal experience. I'm not real broken up about it either.
I feel bad for those poor saps that have to deal with the Gray squirrel. Apparently in England (it was introduced there in 1876 from North America, a big "sorry" for that) it regularly strips the bark from sycamore, oak, and beech trees whereas in N.A. it favors the sugar maple. Most squirrels love nuts and seeds, a few bugs here and there, fruits, and other plant bits. They have also been known to take (skip ahead squeamish ones) baby birds and reptiles. A plus for squirrel aficianados, Gray squirrels can have as many as nine or more in a litter. Another bonus, they can have two breeding seasons a year if conditions are favorable. Squirrels, squirrels, everywhere!
Some characteristics of most tree squirrels are: good eyesight, chisel-shaped incisor teeth, well-developed sense of touch (those whiskers help), and nests in trees called "dreys." I also discovered Red squirrels can locate pine cones buried 12 inches below the surface. That goes a long way to explain some of the
disruptive behavior in the garden, such as that time I planted hundreds of crocuses and they mysteriously unplanted themselves and got nibbled and moved around. I won't describe my thoughts at the moment when I discovered my work undone. After all, this is a family friendly blog. Just imagine some steam coming out my ears and you'll about have it.
So now that I have captured your attention with this fascinating bit of squirrel lore, I will shift gears and get back to my blogging analogy. Thank you for your patience, as the automated customer service voice intones when I am put on hold....
I suppose I am a bit of a squirrel hoarding my posts, as I seem to feel safe with a minimum of three in draft form, but then I've always been the highly-strung, nervous type. Right now I must be feeling particularly creative because I have four (a lot for me) in various phases, from two lines to two hundred. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but "two lines to twenty" just doesn't have the same weighty feel.
High strung might be one excuse, but I also think I have more quality control if I have a week or two lead-time. I don't seem to be the type that can churn out literary gems with short notice. Only on rare occasions am I am struck with inspiration and a post seems to write itself to my satisfaction in one sitting. Apparently, I need a good deal of time to work out logic, flow, and wit (If I can summon any: I do notice this post is sadly lacking in that respect).
So to recap, my reasons for hoarding posts are:
3. finding appropriate pictures
So time to 'fess up: how many draft posts do you have right now?
And what squirrels call your garden/country home?