of the cold

11.4.23 ~ Fred with his walnut

How happy I was if I could forget
To remember how sad I am
Would be an easy adversity
But the recollecting of Bloom

Keeps making November difficult
Till I who was almost bold
Lose my way like a little Child
And perish of the cold.

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1080)

The first days of November arrived here cold! One morning it was 29°F (-2°C)! With afternoon temperatures around 80°F on the last days of October this was quite a jolt of weather whiplash.

I’m pleased to introduce you to Fred, our friendly neighborhood squirrel. Tim has been feeding him walnuts. Most of the time he runs off with them, presumably to store them somewhere, but once in a while he sticks around and lets us watch him eat it.

The gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is hereby adopted as the official State mammal of the State of North Carolina. (1969, c. 1207.) § 145-6.
~ North Carolina General Statutes – Chapter 145

When he hears us opening the front door he will come up to the porch to see if a walnut will be rolled out to him. He’s not brave enough to come any closer — not yet. But Tim has a way with squirrels, so…

40 thoughts on “of the cold”

  1. Hello, Fred. Nice to meet you! Our weather has been roller coastering, too. I find it much easier to accept the cold when it settles in for a while.

    1. It would be nice if it would just stay in the 70s for a few days! I’m never sure whether to grab my winter coat or leave my sweater at home. 🙂

  2. that walnut looks so clean. we have lots of black walnut trees in the woods next to my home, so i’m used to seeing them with the dirty, natural black walnuts in their little paws (and in my garden, and in my flower pots, and in my tied-up patio umbrella!). so cute though!

    1. It makes me wonder if there is natural variation in the walnut shell color or if perhaps the ones we buy in the grocery or online are washed or altered in some way. Either way, the squirrels seem to value them highly. Fred always acts like he found a great prize!

  3. How did you come up with the name Fred for this squirrel, Barbara? Happy that you got some great photos of him. Fred is absolutely adorable!

    1. We got tired of referring to him as “the friendly one who comes up to the porch” so one day the name Fred just popped into my head out of nowhere. It stuck.

  4. Barbara – I really like Fred and the pictures of him with his walnut – so darn cute. I am confident that Tim will have him creeping closer, maybe even taking the walnut from his hand. I passed out walnuts yesterday at the Park. I wanted a few photos to use later this month and always have to plan around the weather and there was one tree with a few colorful leaves, so off I went. I managed to get a woodpecker against a red leaves backdrop – the squirrels were scurrying around too much, but I got a few of them to pose with a walnut. I’ll try again when the snow flies for a Winter picture around Christmastime hopefully.

    1. I’m glad you like the pictures, Linda. Tim took them through the kitchen window after he gave him the walnut. I’m still trying to figure out a way to get outside ahead of time to get a picture of them together. I’ll be patient, though. The woodpecker with red leaves in the background sounds lovely. The colors are starting to peak around here, I think it’s the peak anyway. We went out to vote this morning and saw some nice colors. Can’t wait for our walk tomorrow and am trying to decide which trail will be our best bet.

      1. Very cute Barbara. You could go outside and roll a walnut to Fred, then Tim holds one up a walnut, then rolls it to Fred at the same time – he’d be looking at Tim since Tim is his usual benefactor.

        Our wind yesterday took all the leaves down from the trees. While on my walk at the Park this morning I saw someone left a whole pumpkin on a stump. No critter had chewed a hole in it yet. It was kind of lopsided, so putting some seeds on top of it near the stem to get a photo of the birds or squirrels would not work. If you put a pumpkin out, try putting the walnut on top of the pumpkin. I saw that once in Birds & Blooms – very cute!

        1. We’ll keep working on it. 🙂 I will suggest the walnut on the pumpkin idea to Tim and keep you posted. Fred would have to come up farther onto the porch to reach the pumpkins… I was thinking of cutting the pumpkins up after Thanksgiving for the deer and the squirrels.

          1. I saw a cute photo on Birds and Blooms and kept the photo to remind myself to do that sometime with the mini pumpkins … I did put peanuts on the pumpkins once and the squirrels promptly pulled the peanuts off – but it was the mini pumpkins. The picture I saw was of a bird sitting on the pumpkin – very sweet. That would be nice cutting up your pumpkins – the squirrels and deer will like that.

          2. So, taking your suggestion, yesterday Tim left two walnuts on top of two of the pumpkins before leaving for our walk. They were gone when we got home. Now maybe he’ll try putting them out there when we’re still at home… stay tuned!

          3. That’s great Barbara … Fred is just a little nipper, so cautious. We have three types of squirrels at the Park and the neighborhood and from interacting with them all, I find the black squirrels very timid, the gray squirrels are a little friendly, but still hold back a bit – the big Fox squirrels are fearless. (And looking a mite chunky these days.) The pumpkin at the Park was decimated – the squirrels must have had a feast, so no photo op today for me. 🙂

          4. We didn’t have fox squirrels in New England. In North Carolina they are found south of here in the Sandhills (where Tim’s brother and sister-in-law live) and southern coastal plain. I’ll have to keep my eye out for them when we go down there for a visit. To my knowledge I’ve never seen one before. We’ll be careful with Fred! 🙂 I hope you get your photo op soon!

          5. I didn’t realize that Barbara. I don’t have the red squirrels here. I will try again tomorrow – maybe more people left their pumpkins. I was at Heritage Park today and there were many discarded pumpkins there. I went there so I didn’t have to drive anywhere that deer were chasing each other and not paying attention to running out into the road.

          6. It may still be rutting season… I haven’t been seeing too many deer the past few days.

          7. I stayed close to home again today, but took no photos at Council Point Park. I had to work outside quite a while – one more leaf-raking session I think. Interestingly, I was on Facebook and I’ve been following a group of bicyclists who routinely go on long rides. I don’t plan to join them, but am always interested where they go. Today, one rider posted a photo of a buck running around Elizabeth Park. That’s a first as there is a small woods, nothing to speak of and not dense and there it stood. I almost went there but I’ve seen deer hit by vehicles on Fort Street, a busy thoroughfare that I need to take to get to Elizabeth Park, so I erred on the side of caution. Our deer rutting season is thru the end of November, beginning in late October. Our firearms deer hunting season begins Wednesday here.

          8. It’s so pretty here now with the leaves falling from the trees and floating in the air currents before landing. Our roofs are covered with them and landscapers come around frequently (maybe once a week or so?) to blow them off. I’m getting used to the sound of men walking around on our roof. I have to say I’m impressed with how well they maintain our complex here. Maybe that’s why there aren’t as many deer, though, they might be avoiding the leaf blowers (which are electric — yay!) and workers. Fred hides out under our porch sometimes.

          9. I tried taking some photos of the falling leaves the other day but they were falling too quickly for me – next year I’ll try and perfect it. We had another blustery day and I wonder why I raked yesterday. A lot of leaves haven’t fallen – I’m supposed to let my handyman know the status of the leaves to schedule the appointment to clean the gutters, but I can’t yet. That’s great that the landscapers are so diligent with the condo complex maintenance. How nice they use electric leaf blowers to save our environment. Poor Fred and the deer are likely terrified from the noise. We have something new at the Park that is rather irritating. A couple of guys have motorbikes – not just electric bicycles, but actual motorbikes. The squirrels and birds scatter like the wind when they rev them up and go on the perimeter path. No doubt wheelies will be next – sigh.

            There is always something to be done in a house as you well know. Today I came home from the Park and a huge truck and flatbed trailer with a backhoe showed up a few minutes after I got home – the truck was from DTE, our energy provider. I asked what they were doing and he said repairing a gas line next door. So you know I stewed and fretted over that as we have so many natural gas explosions. Mercifully there was nothing like that going on, but that backhoe pounded the cement so hard the house was shaking – I imagined foundation fissures or worse. I went downstairs and saw one of the dropped ceiling panels fell out – no doubt the thumping caused it. I wish you could see the look on my face when I discovered that happened!

          10. Me too Barbara. Way too many of those explosions these days. One woman just put the house up for sale a few days before and she left for a doctor’s appointment and the entire house blew up minutes after she left. Two neighbor had to be relocated temporarily until their homes could be assessed for structural damage. Do you remember the house at the end of my block that had the circuit breaker box explode after a transformer blew, the same night as the fire from the downed wire? Today I had a dentist appointment which I walked to and from and as of today, there are still contractors working on the house – they were there today when I went past with a huge dumpster in the driveway. I never drive that way, so I hadn’t noticed … the fire was on December 2nd last year. I am amazed if there was that much damage that the insurance company didn’t just demolish the home. The guy behind still has not cut the tree to nine feet from the ground either like he told my neighbor he would do.

  5. As I’ve already mentioned, I think Fred’s marvelous. One tip for taming him even more is to part with a few shelled pecans (or walnuts, if those are your native nut tree). It took me a while to learn that if I gave a squirrel a nut still in the shell, it often would run off with it to bury or store it. But, a pecan half or two would be eaten on the spot, and provide some nice photo opportunities.

    1. Thank you for the suggestions, Linda! I’m pretty sure black walnuts and hickory nuts are native to North Carolina but I’m not sure what kind of walnuts Tim’s getting by mail order. When we lived in Connecticut we couldn’t find walnuts in the grocery store except in December, but I haven’t tried looking for them in the stores down here yet. We did learn a couple of years ago that peanuts weren’t very nutritious for squirrels which lead to the search for walnuts…

  6. Aw, Fred is so cute! I’ll bet you can “tame” him, with time, especially since you don’t have Monk to scare or chase him off. I remember as a kid my mom tossing out leftover waffles, and the squirrels would hop on them, spinning them like wheels as they nibbled!

    1. That must have been awfully cute watching those squirrels make wheels out of their waffles! It seems like Fred does a lot of the chasing around here. We’ve seen him chase off another squirrel who dared to walk over to a nut Fred knew was intended for him…

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