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May 19th 2009

    I am suspicious of a squirrel in the barn.  He has the reddish tail and the attitude of one who might be tempted by the content of a bird's nest.  I have shouted and chased him several times, but more often than not he is there amongst the dry wood looking up at Barn Swallows.

    My grasp of the difference between Fox Squirrels and Gray Squirrels tends toward a character assessment.  A Gray Squirrel is either sleeping or working.  He is neat and tidy in his habits and movements, and he is an early riser.  A Fox Squirrel is lackadaisical, not fond of routine, likes to stare aimlessly at nothing in particular, he is a late riser and I find myself too often on his side.

   I imagine this favoritism on my part is somehow related to that decline of the Red Squirrel which followed the introduction of Gray Squirrels to the United Kingdom.  Very quickly the Red Squirrel was pushed into smaller and smaller territory.

    

    I have seen the Red Squirrel.  Not so often as to have become very familiar with him.  But long enough to recognize him from the tale by Beatrix Potter where he is portrayed as a friendly vegetarian with good morals and an ability to discourse with owls.  And here I would argue that Squirrel Nutkin's tale could not have been spun around a Gray Squirrel.  To my mind the story of a Gray Squirrel would in some part contain terroristic threatening amongst deceit and conspiracy.  

    This morning, in the barn, I met the Squirrel face to face.  It was an interlude of empathy.  I knew he was up to no good and he knew that I knew he was up to no good.  We discussed the matter briefly and he wandered off in no great hurry.  Which makes him for certain a Fox Squirrel. 

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(Squirrel Nutkin) (terroristic threatening) (Red Squirrel) (Fox Squirrel) (Gray Squirrel) (Food)