October 16, 2017

 

Oort Cloud Oddities: Ground Squirrels

 
 
 

One sunny day several years ago, I was invited to help a friend rassle some cows that were ready to be taken to auction. The cows were all living the high life, out at pasture miles from any sign of civilization. There was absolutely nothing around but orange groves and grassland, for as far as the eye could see. One dirt road led far back, past the acres of orange trees, to a dusty little corral where the cows, hearing the infrequent sound of an engine, would undoubtedly trickle in to take advantage of the alfalfa hay and grain that always seemed to accompany the sound of trucks.

Here, down this magic, lonely road where buildings and cement are unknown, where plumbing and electricity do not reach, where man is a less frequent visitor than the coyotes or geckos, Mother Nature lets some of her less intelligent children out to play. I am talking about none other than the ground squirrel.

Ground squirrels evolved to fill the need for a lo-carb snack food for gopher snakes. They are not brain food. They are not high cuisine. They are little Atkins Twinkies and South Beach bon-bons. But what they really want to be, apparently, is road pizza.

There we were, driving down the road. The first vehicle to come that way in weeks. The only vehicle that would come that way for several weeks more. Miles of empty dirt road behind us. And hundreds of ground squirrels dashing madly across the road in front of us, barely escaping to the other side with their worthless little lives.

One car a month travels that road, if that often. What sad misapplication of instinct compels these feeble-brained critters to dart across the road in front of that one car? What strikes them as being so horribly urgent that they can't wait the extra two seconds to dart across the road behind it?

Oh, my friend explained to me that when they sense danger, their first instinct is to bolt for their holes and that some of them just happen to be on the wrong side of the road when the car comes close enough to spook them.

But how many of these ground squirrels, seeing a coyote trotting through the grass, would dart right under that coyote's nose to get home? For all I know, they do just that. Perhaps they're all a bunch of little Steve Irwins, holding their little pups out over coyote dens and chirping, "Croiky! Ain't she a beauty?" as an every day occurrence. But I don't think so. You see, it's my personal theory that it's got less to do with the ground squirrels than it does with the cars.

There seems to be something about the way cars are manufactured these days that brings out that reaction in a lot of animals. In particular, the animals behind the wheels of other cars.

It never fails to amuse me that I can be driving down one of our local country roads, the only car in sight, and yet still have a vehicle shoot to get out in front of me. Usually to drive slightly slower than I was going, as if the driver in cringing and waiting to be rear-ended.

I used to wonder why people did that. Was it post-traumatic stress, brought on by years of shooting the gap in cutthroat Bay Area traffic? Perhaps they had a car with a beige leather interior and a lower digestive tract with leaky sphincters (a tragic combination, to be sure). Another theory of mine was that they were telemarketers, so accustomed to being annoying and foolish that it spilled over into all aspects of their lives. They were probably taking their small but amazingly loud infants to a movie theatre, where they would also use up all the toilet paper in the restroom, cough explosively without covering their mouths, wear too much perfume and spit their gum onto the ground where I could step on it and get it all over my shoes. All before hurrying home to sit in front of the television and drive up the Nielsen ratings for reality television.

But after I saw the ground squirrels that summer day, I realized that I was wrong about those people. I don't think zooming out in front of oncoming traffic is an instinct that certain individuals or ground squirrels really have any control over. Just as there are some people who barrel along the roads like their chock full of freshly baked goodies from the meth lab's ovens, there are some people who simply have to dart out in front of other vehicles. It's like those people who see huge, scaly creatures with mouths the size of a human torso and immediately decide that wrestling the beast is a great idea.

It's not really anyone's fault, mate. It's just nature's way.

Comments and ground squirrel recipes to alexandraqueen1@hotmail.com.

Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-06-05


0 Reader Comments
Add your own comments!
The Piker Press moderates all comments. The commenting policy can be found
here.
Name

Email

Comments




In the same series:

Oort Cloud Oddities: Who wears the dress in this kitchen?
Oort Cloud Oddities: Shoe sizes
Oort Cloud Oddities: A Woman Who Likes Football
Oort Cloud Oddities: Alternative Pest Control
Oort Cloud Oddities: Bathrooms
Oort Cloud Oddities: Art is suffering
Oort Cloud Oddities: James Lick's Monument
Oort Cloud Oddities: Efficiency Kitchen
Oort Cloud Oddities: Bird Flu
Oort Cloud Oddities: Ford
Oort Cloud Oddities: Women's Equality Day
Oort Cloud Oddities: Spring Horoscopes 1
Oort Cloud Oddities: Name Branding
Oort Cloud Oddities: Florida Pizza
Oort Cloud Oddities: Off the Path
Oort Cloud Oddities: Coffee Feng Shui
Oort Cloud Oddities: Family Travels
Oort Cloud Oddities: April 15
Oort Cloud Oddities: Skidmarks and Gay Cowboys
Oort Cloud Oddities: Birthday Worms
Oort Cloud Oddities: Pizza Parent Pain
Oort Cloud Oddities: Sharkey the Impaler
Oort Cloud Oddities: Internet Birthday
Oort Cloud Oddities: Fourmyle and the Hat
Oort Cloud Oddities: Cupid and the Tomkitten
Oort Cloud Oddities: 50 is better
Oort Cloud Oddities: Smarter Clothes
Oort Cloud Oddities: Worm Guy
Oort Cloud Oddities: Scary Workout Videos
Oort Cloud Oddities: 2005 in review
Oort Cloud Oddities: Kentucky Fried Christmas
Oort Cloud Oddities: Gross Gifts
Oort Cloud Oddities: State Slogans
Oort Cloud Oddities: Black Friday
Oort Cloud: Pot and Brain Growth
Oort Cloud Oddities: Naughty Wasp
Oort Cloud Oddities: Cats Hate Winter
Oort Cloud Oddities: Potty Helmet Laws
Oort Cloud Oddities: Foraging
Oort Cloud Oddities: Two-Stroke Engine Man
Oort Cloud Oddities: Corrupting Games
Oort Cloud Oddities: Spinach!!
Oort Cloud Oddities: Talk Like A Pirate Day
Oort Cloud Oddities: Mutant Mice
Oort Cloud Oddities: Beer and Football
Oort Cloud Oddities: Dragonfly Swarm
Oort Cloud Oddities: Miss Plastic Surgery
Oort Cloud Oddities: Hydrophobic Felines
Oort Cloud Oddities: Forum Fonts
Oort Cloud Oddities: Astrological Hair
Oort Cloud Oddities: Martong Theme Restaurant
Oort Cloud Oddities: Axing the TV
Oort Cloud Oddities: Hempopotamus
Oort Cloud Oddities: Growing Pains
Oort Cloud Oddities: British Sporks
Oort Cloud Oddities: Night of the Living 'Do
Oort Cloud Oddities: Stuck in a Tree
Oort Cloud Oddities: Picasso
Oort Cloud Oddities: Finger Food
Oort Cloud Oddities: Safe Surfing
Oort Cloud Oddities: DIY Therapy
Oort Cloud Oddities: Steroids and Baseball
Oort Cloud Oddities: Mrs. Mike
Oort Cloud Oddities: Oscar Birthday
Oort Cloud Oddities: Gift Enema
Oort Cloud Oddities: Cry Room
Oort Cloud Oddities: HMO blues
Oort Cloud Oddities: FishinFoo
Oort Cloud Oddities: Squid Eye
Oort Cloud Oddities: Cantina
Oort Cloud Oddities: Beese
Oort Cloud Oddities: Health Care
Oort Cloud Oddities: Squid-Eye Love
Oort Cloud Oddities:LibraryDay
Oort Cloud Oddities: Yeast
Oort Cloud Oddities: Fantasy Playoffs
Oort Cloud Oddities: 2004 In Review
Oort Cloud Oddities: Kid Rock Dog Farts
Oort Cloud Oddities: Rainy Day Raiders
Oort Cloud Oddities: Birthright Pie
Oort Cloud Oddities: Bruce-Free Thanksgiving
Oort Cloud Oddities: Napoleon
Oort Cloud Oddities: Meaningful Books
Oort Cloud Oddities: Viking Sanchez
Oort Cloud Oddities: Halloween Costumes
Oort Cloud Oddities: Key Ring Synergy
Oort Cloud Oddities: Mohawk Mommy
Oort Cloud Oddities: Clerihews
Oort Cloud Oddities: Learning Poetry
Oort Cloud Oddities: The Genesis of Gender
Oort Cloud Oddities: Sightseeing
Oort Cloud Oddities: Movie Merchandise
Oort Cloud Oddities: Lotion
Oort Cloud Oddities: Writers Online
Oort Cloud Oddities: Clothing
Oort Cloud Oddities: Summer Movies
Oort Cloud Oddities: Cheap Summer Travel
Oort Cloud Oddities: Galapagos TV
Oort Cloud Oddities: The Horse Whisperer
Oort Cloud Oddities: Nazgul Gardeners
Oort Cloud Oddities: Peevil Knievel
Oort Cloud Oddities: Body Image
Oort Cloud Oddities: The Pickle Jar
Oort Cloud Oddities: Ground Squirrels
Oort Cloud Oddities: CAPTCHAs
Oort Cloud Oddities: Zombie Infection
Oort Cloud Oddities: Haiku War
Oort Cloud Oddities: 2004 Campaign Advice
Oort Cloud Oddities: Child rearing
Oort Cloud Oddities: Hemingway
Oort Cloud Oddities: Clarence Darrow
Oort Cloud Oddities: The 55 MPH Pig
Oort Cloud Oddities: The Mommy Voice
Oort Cloud Oddities: Extreme Hobbies
Oort Cloud Oddities: Presidential Candidates 2004
Oort Cloud Oddities: Free-verse Neanderthal
Oort Cloud Oddities: Coffee Shop Offices
Oort Cloud Oddities: Mad cow
Oort Cloud Oddities: The Enzo vs. the Metro
Oort Cloud Oddities: Real Estate Crocs
Oort Cloud Oddities: Christmas Gifts
Oort Cloud Oddities: Bodice-Rippers and Football
Oort Cloud Oddities: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Oort Cloud Oddities: Aunt Mary and the Pumpkin Pie
Oort Cloud Oddities: Eat or be eaten
Oort Cloud Oddities: New Year's Resolutions
Oort Cloud Oddities: World Beard and Mustache Championships
Oort Cloud Oddities: Grandpa Queen and the Chicken of Doom
Oort Cloud Oddities: Night of the Satanists
Oort Cloud Oddities: Uncle Buddy
Oort Cloud Oddities: Mes de los Muertos
Oort Cloud Oddities: Weapons of Mouse Destruction
Oort Cloud Oddities: Pride comes before a wet pants leg.
Oort Cloud Oddities: Celebrity Relationships
Oort cloud oddities: The rise and fall of the gastropod Mafia
Oort Cloud Oddities: The Devil's Agent
Oort Cloud Oddities: National Nude Recreation Week 2003

Other articles by Alexandra Queen you might enjoy...

Unfit Mother Goose
Eternal Monday Afternoon
Growing Up Wrong
Isoflavones and Black Cohosh
WikiWikiWebster 07
&#%*in' Harvest
Rain, Rain Go Away.
Riding in Cars with Cherries
Peek of the Week 333
Raccoon Mansion
Blair Witch Snail Swap Project
With No Announcement
Monkey Business
Peek of the Week 285
Heart Brake
Food for Thought
Peek of the Week 244
Red Shirt
My Friend Clucka
Peek of the Week 229
Peek of the Week 224
Random Comic
Lichloved 88
Review: Death Race (2008)
Lichloved 87
Lichloved 85
Lichloved 86 - Bonus!
Lichloved 84
Lichloved 83
Lichloved 80-somethin' Synopsis