COLUMN: The squirrel knows best

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The squirrel was hurtling full-throttle across the road and barely missed being squashed by my car tire Friday. I made a quick truck to the farm to grab my mail and a bite to eat and spotted the squirrel while returning to New Boston.

The animal was hard to miss. It carried an ear of corn at least half its length in its mouth and I was amazed at not only the strength of the squirrel’s jaw muscles, but the speed with which it could run with such a load. The squirrel gleaned the ear of corn from a field a few yards away and I judged it a lucky find since a hungry herd of cows had been trodding the field for nearly a week.

The squirrel might have had good reason to be stocking up on food. Winter isn’t far away and already a few squirrel hunters have told me that the supply of nuts this year is small. Squirrels, I suppose, aren’t hibernators, and have to rummage for food during the winter months.

The squirrel I nearly hit might be an overachiever, or simply wanted to be well-prepared. Anyway, it reminded me of how we mimic animals as cold weather approaches.

I’ve already seen trucks and a few trailers filled with firewood sure to be fuel for homes and a visit to the country store at the St. Meinrad Church picnic this month showed quite the variety of canned jams, jellies and vegetables. I’m sure the ladies who did the work have plenty more jars of preserves loaded on their cupboards and basement shelves.

I’m happy for the pint or two of homemade salsa Mom provides and the couple packages of ground beef from the last butchered steer. I don’t have to worry about rummaging for food during winter but there’s something thrifty in many of us that causes us to make preparations.

Friends are pulling boats from their docks and I’ve even seen a few pumpkins on front porches. Halloween decor will soon be everywhere.

Human snowbirds will soon flock to Florida and other southern locales for their months-long winter getaways.

Autumn ranks first among the seasons in my book but am not a fan of winter’s might. The squirrel, if it was able, might choose to hibernate during January and February and a lot of us might dream of leaving for the winter. Most of us do what we can to get ready as fall arrives and winter beckons.

I hope the squirrel and his kin are ready for winter. There should be plenty of corn to be had. At least I have a few packages of corn on the cob in the freezer to remind me of warmer days.