There is a bad winter rising this year here in Chicagoland. That is my prediction, and I’m sticking to it. Mind you I have no scientific evidence, no empirical data, and no analysis of current weather patterns and how they relate to past weather patterns that would predict a harsh winter. My prediction this year is based solely on the squirrels.
The Wooly Bear
I understand some people may use other methods, maybe the prevailing winds at the time of the autumnal equinox, or the timing of the leaves falling from the trees, or the Farmers Almanac, or, in the case of my childhood, the famed weatherman from Cleveland, Dick Goddard, utilizing the wooly bear caterpillar, but I wasn’t paying attention to the wind, and haven’t seen a wooly bear since my youth in Ohio. What I have been paying attention to, lately, are squirrels.
Let me explain a little more.
Out of the Palm of My Hand
In my attempt to try not to balloon to 300 pounds my general version of exercise is going for a walk. For the past few years my favorite walking areas are a park near my day job, and a park near home where we walk our dog, Milo. Both parks have a stable amount of trees, nothing crazy, it’s not like I’m walking in a forest, but with the trees comes the occasional squirrel.
I’m a fan of squirrels, find them kind of cute, and remember being that young lad in Ohio when we would leave peanuts for the squirrels on our patio to the point the squirrels became comfortable enough to take the peanuts out of my hand. Maybe it is that fondness that causes me to notice them while I walk, and smile, but lately I have noticed something.
I do recall the past few years seeing squirrels foraging as Fall arrived, but there weren’t that many, and the past couple of winters haven’t been that bad, all things considered. This year, though, I have been noticing a lot of squirrels, to the point at one time I saw about five of them all in this area of the park. They seem to be scrambling, they seem to be on a mission, and they seem to be scared.
Yes, in their eyes I see worry, and there aren’t many things a squirrel worries about. I know, I’ve asked them. They mention the snakes and raccoons are a pain, most dogs they can get away from by scurrying up a tree, but the hawks generally worry them the most. This year, though, their squirrel-sense is tingling, and the tingling is because they sense snow and cold, which leaves to no food, which for a squirrel is worse than a hawk, or so they say.
I used to enjoy winter, but lately, as I get older, that enjoyment tends to go away after the first, beautiful carpet of white turns into a dirty mess. Maybe I should return to my youth this year and go back to building snow forts and making snowmen, but first, I suppose, I should get the snow blower out of storage soon, I have a feeling I’m going to need it a lot this year. The squirrels are telling me so.