The Squirrel and the Chipmunk
I have a lot of squirrels and chipmunks in my backyard, and I mean a lot. My wife and I feed them, and have provided a housing development for the squirrels, which we call estates 1, 2, and so on up to 6. I really pay attention to them. One day I overheard a squirrel talking to a chipmunk.
“They’re starting to talk and write about us.” said the squirrel to the chipmunk who were earnestly trying to avoid crashing into each other, “I wonder why they waited so long.”
“Well, it’s because they finally came to their senses,” the chipmunk responded with a mischievous grin on his face, “I still think they don’t know the half of it yet. You see, there’s a lot to learn from us.”
“Like what?” asked the Squirrel.
“Well for one thing, all the animals of the forest communicate with each other. I know we don’t actually talk among ourselves, but we sure do let others know what’s on our minds. Like you, you talk with your tail. You’re the fastest talker in the whole forest,” the chipmunk said, “and by the way now that we’re friends, you can call me ‘chippy’ but I’m breaking a major rule of the forest. We don’t really have nicknames. Having a nickname makes us seem like we’re somebody’s pet, and we’re nobody’s pet. We’re free as a whistle!”
And there’s another thing,” said the chipmunk, “my mother told me when I was young, “We help keep the forest alive and healthy.
That was grown-up talk for BE CAREFUL when you go outside your home, otherwise, it’s hello Mr. coyote, goodbye Mr. chipmunk. There’s a big cycle out there; everything is connected to everything else – a precious balance that’s called ‘equilibrium’ – although sometimes it takes a while. For instance, if all the squirrels ate all the acorns off the trees, then they’d have to look for another kind of food that doesn’t taste as good, such as caterpillars … at least until the tree once again produced acorns. And another example, let’s say a disease killed all the coyotes. Then there would be millions and millions of squirrels roaming around looking for the same acorns that we had become accustomed to eating. That’s the wonder of nature. It’s very important to be fast and strong, but most importantly, to know how to live in our forest – like survival of the fittest, that sort of thing – the importance of avoiding injury and staying healthy. It’s also about being able to make babies, but that’s another wonder.”
The chipmunk gave a big sigh. He wasn’t used to talking this much, but he sure did enjoy talking with the squirrel. Maybe when I get older, the chipmunk thought to himself, maybe I’ll become a teacher.
Each month, new descriptions of the wonders of nature will be posted on this page. You are invited to share your “wonder” – a description of a unique and personal account (1-page) you’ve experienced in nature. Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel Kielson, Ed.D.