Work ethic and squirrels

 It’s a busy time in our yard. There’s lots of scurrying around, getting everything ready for winter.

No, it’s not me I’m talking about. It’s not even our son, Joe, who helps out mowing the yard when it needs it. Or when it is dry enough, which hasn’t been often lately. 

Right now, the scurrying around is being done by the squirrels. We must have a dozen of them.

They’re out there working away right after first light, when I am headed out on a weekend morning walk with the dogs.

And when the dogs get another walk just before dark, they’re still there. Of course, the reason why they love our yard has nothing to do with us being such nice people. Or that we love pets and wildlife.

It’s more about those giant pecan trees, their limbs laden down almost to the ground with hundreds of nuts.

They cart the nuts off one at a time to their special hiding places. And when they don’t find enough on the ground, they head up the trees looking for more.

I admire their work ethic. Sometimes, it makes me tired just to watch.

Squirrels are ingenious. The nuts often are hanging from leaf clusters too flimsy to support their weight, so they just chew off the branch and then scamper down to the ground to gather the nuts.

And every time I see the squirrels rushing this way and that, I remember my special squirrel, too – the one I saved from being squished.

It’s a long story, but (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) I have enough space left to tell it.

One day I was out front watering flowers and saw an SUV (driving way too fast on a residential street, but that’s another story) barreling down on one of the squirrels. After it went by, the squirrel was lying in the street. I was about to tear up when I saw his tail quiver. Could he be alive? I wondered.

I ran out to the street and waved off another car. The squirrel was breathing so I quickly went to the garage, got a big flat shovel and slid it under him.

He made no effort to move as I carried him out of the street and put him under one of the pecan trees in the yard. I thought he probably would die, but at least it would not be in the street.

A couple of hours later he had moved about three feet, but made no effort to get away when I checked on him.

By late afternoon, he had climbed to the lowest branch on the tree. Just before dark, he had moved a couple of branches higher.

I figure he couldn’t take too much time off, lying around and feeling sorry for himself, like someone I know sometimes does.

Winter’s coming and there’s work to be done.


T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at