January 21, 2011

Squirrel Appreciation Day

Appreciate me.
Hey, everybody, today, January 21, 2011, is Squirrel Appreciation Day! How will you celebrate?

Not everyone appreciates squirrels, for sure, but I've got a deep fondness in my heart for my little fuzzy totem animals. A totem animal is the creature that you, for whatever reason, believe best represents your spirit self, and perhaps acts as your animal guide. Your totem animal is generally discovered by some close encounter with said animal, or perhaps it's representative of where you were born, or expresses some intrinsic inner truth about you.

They also make excellent photo-bombers.
I'm from NYC, so there aren't too many animals to choose from: cats, dogs, rats, roaches, pigeons, sparrows, mice, squirrels, the occasional lost coyote and nesting hawk; that's about the extent of our fauna around here. I'm also smallish, furry, nervous, twitchy, sly, bitey when cornered, and extremely storage-oriented. And I like nuts. Alas, I don't have a big fuzzy tail, but we can't have everything.

I appreciate squirrels for their tenacity, adaptability, survival instincts in all weather, ability to scale trees and buildings, and tireless preparation, even if they sometimes forget where they stashed their nuts and seeds. Also for their adorable cuteness and their humor. Squirrels are funny. They look funny running around, loping in undulating strides. They run up trees head-first and come down again head-first. They easily look amusingly shocked and surprised. They chitter in alarm and yet sometimes can be so friendly, running over and peering up at you with their curious eyes.

Oh, I'd nom you so hard. . .
It's also quite amusing how squirrels drive my cats absolutely bonkers when they visit the fire escape outside my bedroom window.

Yes, the only thing that really differentiates them from rats is their big plume of a fluffy tail, but what a tail it is: graceful, expressive, festive, and excessive in ornamentation. Gorgeous.

Mystery meat.
I've never eaten squirrel (that I'm aware of), but I'm told that it is quite flavorful, more like duck in its gamy fattiness than chicken. I can't imagine that there's a lot of meat on these little beasts, though.

I'm the owner of many squirrel keepsakes and stuffed animals and tokens, mainly because I've identified with the squirrel for so long that people often give me squirrel-related objects as gifts. Which I love, and will keep forever. (See storage-oriented above.)

Most obviously, I have a small tribal-type tattoo on my forearm of a squirrel. It's the same image you can see above in my blogger photo. Sometimes I forget it's there, but when I do remember, I very much enjoy looking at it.

Too much appreciation!
So next time you're in your backyard, strolling through a park, or wandering in the woods, take some time to chitter back at the squirrels and say hello. I've noticed that most of the time, the squirrels will stop short and return your greeting with a curious gaze, before returning to their busy, laborious lives.

Squirrels, I appreciate you. Rock on!

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