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
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.