Squirrels have higher IQs than engineers and faster learning abilities than fresh graduates. Now, I have discovered that they can also be trained to become professional athletes.
In the previous episode, I learned to let go and decided to coexist peacefully with the new squirrel that arrived.
Do you remember the Garfield cat feeder? I really gave up on it – gave up on using it as a feeder and just used it as a decoration. The whole summer passed peacefully, with the two little squirrels coming to eat grass twice a day. Once spring came, the squirrels seemed to lose interest in those expensive flower buds, and I finally fully understood their habits and routines.
2021 has passed, and every winter is my happiest time.
This spring, he woke up again. Right on time. Strangely, the other companion from the previous episode never appeared again. I can only speculate two possibilities, both unethical: first, hibernation is his eternal sleep, maybe he got seriously ill or something; second, a few months ago, one night when I went out for a walk, I saw a fox standing in the empty space across from my house. That look was obviously planned, purposeful, and relishing…
At the beginning of the year, my wife said she really wanted to watch birds at the window and asked me to find a bird feeder that could prevent squirrels. I carefully read all the fake reviews on Amazon and found a feeder that was difficult for squirrels to descend from. Even in the worst case, I could lengthen the rope to make the squirrel’s journey difficult and deadly. The feeder has two floors, with the top floor for birds and the bottom floor a large tray that can catch the food that falls from the top – anyone who has raised birds knows that they eat messily and always spill food everywhere. The large tray can prevent food waste and accommodate several large birds at once.
Every day, we sit by the window, drinking coffee and watching the colorful wild birds outside. We enjoyed a happy time.
These are all memories of winter. Then spring came, and my life slowly began to transform.
The squirrel knew that there was plenty of food up there. At first, he stood upright under the tray and pulled his body up, thinking he could reach it. The tray was about 60 centimeters off the ground, and I was worried he would hurt himself if he kept pulling like that. I ignored him.
Then I noticed he started practicing jumping higher and higher, getting closer and closer. So I raised the tray to 1 meter, but it only stayed there for a week. Then, he learned to climb up the rose bush on the right, which was covered in thorns, and stood on a spot higher than the tray, trying to figure out how to jump down. The rose bush was at least 1 meter away from the tray. After hesitating for a few times, he finally jumped out one day.
It was a pity that I didn’t capture that touching moment on camera. I was washing dishes at the kitchen window and witnessed everything. That’s the benefit of doing housework.
He knew he couldn’t reach the tray and land in it, so he stretched out his arms and used the momentum of falling to flip the tray over, just like a goalkeeper diving to save a ball. The whole scene played out in slow motion in my mind. He didn’t jump into the tray, but he spilled the food all over the ground. The first thing he did after getting up from the fall was to start eating – wherever he wanted. Seeing his joy, I knew it wasn’t a coincidence, but the result of precise calculation. It was like celebrating a successful project with a party.
A few days later, he was already eating comfortably in the tray. That’s how he trained himself.
He even chose different angles, sometimes with his butt facing our window.
When the food was gone and the birds stopped coming, it was no different from keeping a very smart mouse. I had to raise the tray higher and farther away from the rose bush. Now, there was more than 1.5 meters of empty space in all directions. To jump down from this height, he had to climb to the top of the rose bush, where the branches were even thinner and he couldn’t even stand on them. I really didn’t believe he would be willing to pay such a price.
Of course, I was wrong.
One day, I was reading a book in the backyard, listening to the birds chirping and enjoying the breeze. Then I heard the birds scatter and turned around to see him in the center of the tray, eating and swaying with the breeze, as if someone was pushing him on a swing. He was even more carefree than me. If I raised the tray higher and farther away, he would surely continue to strive for excellence and there would be no limit. Professional athletes are trained this way.
I decided to train this excellent squirrel well.
The tray can no longer go higher or farther, so I started to plan from the rose bush. I knew his climbing route very well, so I gradually shortened the branches he used to jump from, or slowly cut off the nearby branches, making it harder and harder for him to achieve his goal. This would train him to become a professional athlete.
By the way, in order to achieve this goal, I had already decided to sacrifice the entire rose bush.
Anyway, his life goal was to jump into the tray and lie down to eat and sleep, letting the breeze sway the hammock; my goal was to make it difficult for him to eat, just a little bit short. Maybe the goal was too difficult to achieve, and for a while, he stopped trying and could only eat grass on the ground. I began to feel a little sorry.
Days went by comfortably for a while.
The turning point came when I suddenly noticed him standing under the tray, stretching his body, obviously measuring something in his mind. Then he climbed up and down the rose bush several times, obviously calculating something. It turned out that he had never forgotten. He climbed back onto the thorny rose branches. The place where he stood had been cut more than 20 centimeters in the past few weeks, and the branches there were very weak and kept swaying, reminding me of the Indian head shake, just a little slower. Watching him hesitate and sway, I kept telling myself that training and torture were just a fine line apart. I was helping him.
Finally, he chose a spot, struggled for a long time, and then… gave up. That was the most accomplished moment of my week. If you want to know what smugness is, that was it. But half an hour later, he came back. Maybe he had figured it out. Believe me, tortured animals also show hesitation, struggle, and anxiety. The expression is exactly the same as that of a human.
I knew the time was ripe, so I prepared my phone and even stopped unnecessary blinking. I had been waiting.
He returned to his original spot… I had a hunch that this time he would go all out. That’s how street thugs rob people. I’ve seen it a lot: they hesitate, retreat, and leave… if they come back, they mean business. When living in the United States, this must be remembered. Over twenty years ago, I almost encountered a potentially fatal robbery on the streets of Los Angeles at midnight. The situation was exactly the same as this. But that’s another story for another time. Anyway, if the other party hesitates and then comes back, it’s time to get serious. Squirrels are just like humans.
Then I turned on the camera… the short film came with exciting sound effects, and the mouse’s jumping board was in the rose bushes in the upper right corner of the tray.
If you watch the slow-motion carefully, his upper body has already entered the tray, and his chest has just hit the edge of the plate. I suspect that he may have broken a few ribs. But watching him land and enjoy the all-you-can-eat feast on the ground, I suspect that squirrels may not have ribs at all.
So I cut off a few more centimeters of the main stem of the rose and continued to observe… if I didn’t keep up with the progress, I guarantee that he would be frolicking in the tray when I wake up tomorrow morning. Maybe I’m too cruel, but professional athletes are trained this way.
When I saw him knock over the plate and fall to the ground, I admit that a dirty thought crossed my mind – what if I scattered some thumbtacks on the ground? The answer is that I might accidentally step on them myself.
So, regarding the squirrel incident, let’s treat it like a virus and coexist with it. I will continue to train this excellent old mouse, and life will be more meaningful because of the higher goal.
By the way, not only did I have another bad idea, but I also put it into practice – I cooked a pot of fresh, pure organic chili water. The taste was so bad that it made people feel sorry just by smelling it. But for now, I have put away the chili water. Coexistence should not involve weapons.
It seems that there is more to write about this story.