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Reasons Why Squirrels Are Smarter Than I Am (Part 2 of N)

April 21, 2008 at 11:38 am

Last week I mentioned my encounter with what appeared to be a literate, angry, union-busting squirrel. But there was a perfectly logical explanation.

There were two separate things going on at that moment, though I didn't realize this until much later.

First, it was autumn. And when the weather starts to turn, squirrels start looking for insulation for their nests. They'll scavenge almost anything they can get their creepy little paws on. Or that they can rip down with their creepy little paws. Including announcements on bulletin boards. In the next few years at the U of M, I saw this regularly-- every fall, squirrels shredded the bottom of every bulletin board on campus in their search for paper.

But why was it tearing down signs that said Squirrels Unite?

Ah. Well.

Turns out, that same autumn, an anonymous group of students had banded together to form what they called the "Random Student Organization". Their stated purpose, as described in the Minnesota Daily, was to... well, I don't remember. It was a long time ago. But the upshot was they had this short-lived notion of occasionally placing unusual signs and placards on campus in the middle of the night for comedic effect. I don't think their efforts persisted into the winter of that year. But the one campaign they did carry out was aimed at, yes, squirrels. In the days after my confusing encounter, I noticed "Squirrels Unite" signs all over the place. On trees, benches, garbage cans (where squirrels do a lot of scavenging), and on bulletin boards-- always near the ground, at squirrel eye-level.

In the end, nothing more than a coincidence. Pretty disappointing. I had liked the idea that the generations of squirrels had learned to read by virtue of living on a college campus. Sigh.

Free eBook Update:

This week's totally free ebook is the fantastic novel Reiffen's Choice by S. C. Butler. Snap it up while you can! I've had the great pleasure of reading the second and third Stoneways books in manuscript form. It's an excellent series, and I admire Sam's achievement. It deserves to become a classic.


Melinda Snodgrass April 21, 2008 at 9:35 pm
I don't think it's fair to say the squirrels were union busting. They were taking down the notices exhorting them to Unite! and carrying them off to show to other, less fortunate squirrels working in the sweat shops of Minnesota parks. Therefore they were totally supportive of the effort to organize hard working squirrels across the Midwest.
Ian April 22, 2008 at 1:59 pm
That could very well be the case. I'd never seen it that way before, but it makes as much sense as anything else...
Ty April 22, 2008 at 4:54 pm
This demonstrates why skepticism is the correct default state. There is always a logical explanation for everything. You just have to find it. And squirrels can totally read. They also make tiny guns in their secret treetop factories. Some day soon, the revolution begins.
Ian April 22, 2008 at 5:36 pm
And indeed, there was a logical explanation. Occam's Razor suggests that the so-called "Random Student Organization" was a front organization populated by the squirrels' human mind-slaves. And when the revolution begins, the squirrels will flip the switch that turns their mind-slaves' microchips from servile minion to assassin drone mode.
Sage May 5, 2008 at 2:13 pm
The ground squirrels in My Secret Mountain Hideaway are supporting my efforts at horticulture. They have tunneled into the cabin floor/cellar ceiling and released the captive sawdust some fool had put there for insulation. Great piles of this sawdust are now mulching the greenhouse. The little d/e/v/i/l/s dears are already sharing the harvest from said greenhouse. Perhaps they will make jam and take it back to the cellar. Wouldn't surprise me.
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