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Sunday, Mar. 1, 2015

Unless you're nuts, time to beware

Posted Sunday, January 8, 2012, at 11:33 AM

First off, I'm a firm believer that animals know a heck of a lot more about nature and weather than a dozen Willard Scotts or Al Rokers.

Remember all those stories from the 2004 tsunami? The ones where animals -- everything from mice to elephants -- inexplicably to us began migrating inland because they knew something was wrong where the sea met the shore?

Those four-footed creatures didn't need Angela Buchman telling them a "weather event" was coming or Chris Wright reminding them to "take along the rain gear."

Nope, it was an inherent reaction. The animals had gone into survival mode.

Meanwhile, sadly two-legged tourists like us stood on balconies and pointed at the big wave or tried to get closer to snap a digital pic or record something YouTube worthy.

As I sit typing this column on the kitchen table of my Greencastle, Ind., home, I can actually see three, plump squirrels running crazily around the walnut tree that divides my property from the retired hardware man's yard next door.

Two days ago, when it was 60 degrees here, my dog was urgently trying to get my attention to go outside. Figuring it was way too much water or a couple too many dog biscuits working their magic on his digestive system, I quickly obliged.

But when I opened the front door, it was like nothing I had ever seen. Five squirrels cavorted on my lawn, running in circles, shimmying up and down the trees and chasing each other's tails. A sixth joined the party from out of my evergreen bush.

Either it was some squirrelly version of speed dating unfolding right in front of my eyes in some confused sense of the mating season or these little buggers knew something about the weather I didn't.

The only other time I've ever observed any kind of similar behavior, I sat at this same table, looking out the back window. Then I marveled at the squirrels running up and down the trees in the fencerow, shredding any and every nut they could find and darting back up the trees to tuck the nut into their nests.

Not since "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" had I seen a squirrel more active in a tree.

That was Christmas Eve about six or seven years ago. A few hours later, our predicted "snow flurries" started, and by morning we had six inches of white Christmas on the ground.

I knew then the squirrels knew something we didn't. They knew those nuts would be covered up by a blanket of snow.

They were industrious, storing nuts. I was too nuts to be industrious.

Now I'm anxious to know what they know that I don't this time.

But maybe these aren't your typical Indiana squirrels.

Perhaps they're Mayan squirrels.

After all ... it is 2012.

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A native of Chicago and a graduate of the University of Missouri, Eric Bernsee has enjoyed residing in Greencastle for more than 25 years. Years of consuming McDonald's iced teas, Dairy Castle flurries and Marvin's GCBs have helped make him the man he is today.
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