“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
By Beth Pinyerd
My little dog Cookie and I were enjoying our morning fall walk. All of a sudden I noticed my little ‘furever friends’ was rolling acorns with her nose then pushing them in her mouth, clenching her mouth very tight shut. After she reluctantly opened her mouth to let the acorns roll out, I gently reminded her that she is a dog and not a squirrel. The month of October is “Squirrel Awareness Month.” The history of Squirrel Awareness month is credited to the late Greg Bassett who noticed a squirrel standing close and motioning to him at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. This squirrel literally won his heart and he excitedly went back home to his home in Chicago and started the Squirrel Lovers Club. This was the beginning of October being Squirrel Awareness month.
Young children love to observe activities of these furry little animals when playing outside. As a teacher, my early childhood class would love to linger and look at their furry bushy tail friends gather acorns. Science professional and experts have guessed and estimated that squirrels gather three years of food during the warm seasonal months so that during the winter months they have something to snack on while they sleep and stay warm in their cozy dens. Keep in mind that squirrels do not hibernate. Take out those phone cameras and video the busy lives of squirrels. What wonderful lessons in having your young children observe the different foods that squirrels gather in their paws and chubby little cheeks. We had a large old oak tree in our yard in South Alabama. The neighborhood children loved to come and observe the “squirrels reunion” in the fall.
Squirrels seem to be able to adapt to any environment anywhere. There are more than 300 different species of squirrel all over the earth. God gives the squirrel their tails to talk and communicate with other squirrels and animals, their tails keep them warm, too keep them warm, provide balance as they scurry up trees, jump from limbs and telephone lines and help prevent falls. and helps in preventing falls. Have you ever noticed just how hard it is to sneak up on a squirrel. Their side to side vision called peripheral vision as well as having good focused vision makes them aware that we humans are around. One fact that is noteworthy is that their pale-yellow vision acts like built in sunglasses which cuts down on glare so they can see well as they scamper.
My family learned first hand one Christmas that squirrels are an invasive species when we were out of town to be with family one Christmas. Our neighbor squirrels from the oak tree in our yard invited themselves into our home to enjoy Christmas in the Pinyerds’ home while we were away. We think they slid down the chimney to come into our home. We came home to find nuts all over the house, our Christmas tree had been lived in and played in by our squirrel friends, and Christmas decorations had been knocked off the mantle as well. When my husband and son found our little squirrel intruders in our attic and in my son’s room, we opened the front door to get our little squirrel friends down the steps. One of our little squirrel friends who was lingering behind decided to slide down our banister and out the front door. Readers it was such a comical memory sight to see that squirrel truly “sled out” our front door, as a family we realized that this truly was a family memory.
What are ways that you and your child can celebrate October as Squirrel Month. You can throw out acorns, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, etc. Too, squirrels do like vegetables such as squash, carrots, broccoli, and fruits such as apples, berries, melons, etc.
Just like we prepare for winter with sweaters, coats, our animal friends prepare for the cold winter months too. When the leaves begin to change and the days get shorter animals instinctively get ready to survive the winter. Take time to look up and see birds traveling in a V-formation as they fly, migrate to warmer regions. Many fish migrate to warmer waters. Some insects migrate. Take for example the Monarch Butterfly migrates to Mexico and spend their winters in the central Mexican mountains. They find shelter and refuge in the sacred fir forests and it is truly a beautiful sight to behold. Check in with our local libraries to find resources of the flights of the Monarch Butterfly. Some moths also migrate but there are insects that remain dormant during the winter or in a state of “dispause” which does resemble hibernation. The honeybees also store food for the winter. The worker bees shake their muscles by generating heat inside the hive. Children understand this lesson of going from cold by standing still then transition to warm by moving around. Some animals may find lodging in holes in trees, logs, under a mossy rock, leaves or even under the ground. Some animals, like bears, hibernate. Hibernation is a special very deep sleep. These animals do survive on their stored body fat until spring wakes them up.
As some animals stock up, migrate and hibernate for winter, some animals decide to be fashionable and change their looks for the winter. With some animals their fur grows thicker to keep them warm. The artic fox and snowshoe rabbit actually have their hair color change so they can blend in with winter white. For the deer family, fall signals the time to find a mate. This specifically refers to the moose. The male moose goes courting from September to mid-October.
As Classroom Observer focuses on fall, I am so grateful for the lessons that young children can learn from nature’s classroom that God created. As I reflect from a teacher’s heart on how trees display vibrant breath taking colors,and animals instinctively know in the fall how to prepare for winter, I take it all in. I learn, and become a student myself, in God’s beautiful world of beautiful changes. We should find JOY in the little things of life, which is a life lesson our young children can put to heart.
Hey let’s all take time to enjoy the activities of our scampering squirrel as we all celebrate that October is Squirrel Awareness Month.