So, I'm in my office, being all kinds of productive (drinking Diet Pepsi while watching last night's Colbert Report on comedycentral.com) when I click over to Augsburg's webpage so I can access my Moodle account. I glance over to the calendar bar on the right side of the page and I see the following:
THURSDAY, JANUARY 21
National Squirrel Appreciation Day
Hug a squirrel today :)
Wow. I had no idea. Intrigued, I decided to (reluctantly) put off some speech grading to find out more about this fascinating and important holiday. At holidayinsights.com I learned that Squirrel Appreciation Day always falls on January 21. In addition, the website helpfully gave the following information:
"Squirrel Appreciation Day is an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate your tree climbing, nut gathering neighborhood squirrels. It's held in mid-winter when food sources are scarce for squirrels and other wildlife. Sure, squirrels spent all fall gathering and "squirreling " away food. But, their supplies may not be enough. And, the variety of food is limited. So, give them an extra special treat today to supplement their winter diets.
Not everyone likes squirrels. While they are fun to watch skirting around the yard and trees, they are aggressive at bird feeders. Squirrels tip almost any bird feeder and spill the seeds in search of the particular seeds they want. In the fall, they attack pumpkins on front porches in search of the seeds inside. For gardeners they dig up and steal flower bulbs, and may eat some of the veggies in your garden.
When you think about it, mid winter is the best time to appreciate squirrels. In the winter they provide a little entertainment. During other times of the year, you may look at them as a pest in the flower and vegetable gardens.
According to Christy Hargrove, the founder, 'Celebration of the event itself is up to the individual or group -- anything from putting out extra food for the squirrels to learning something new about the species.'"
This has given me a whole new perspective on these bushy-tailed and beady-eyed bundles of scary yellow teeth. Nevermind that a gray squirrel jumped out of a garbage can and almost killed David Lapakko yesterday as we were walking to lunch. I can now see that these little, misunderstood scavengers are really... wait, what does holiday insights say... oh yes, tree-climbing, nut-gathering neighborhood scavengers, err, squirrels. Except that I actually used correct punctuation when writing the compound adjectives, hence the lack of quotation marks. Actually, the holiday insights information doesn't really even say anything nice about squirrels. In fact, the post isn't complimentary in the least. Underneath the post there are two links to more "squirrely" fact. There is a link to a wildlife rehabilitation site apparently maintained by Christy Hargrove, the found of this glorious holiday, and link on how to control squirrels in your garden.
Now, despite a few run-ins with squirrels as they pop scarily out of campus garbage cans and an incident where Mark had an altercation with a squirrel in Loring Park (the squirrel came up to his bicycle as he stopped to take photographs and actually PUSHED his bike tire. He has pictures of the squirrel. You can really see the insanity in its eyes) I actually think squirrels are pretty cute. I think I'll take the advice of the Augsburg Calendar post and go out to hug a squirrel right now. Then, I will probably go get a tetanus shot.