Listening to the Squirrels

One of the experiences I have had more of recently is being a passenger on my bus more than a driver.  This has allowed me to talk with my students far more than as the driver. In November I had the opportunity to chat with a student who loves nature, loves seeing animals, but complained he never saw any of them. I told him to listen to the squirrels and they would tell him if he was walking to fast.
His response was, “Huh? How can you tell what the squirrels are saying?” He was obviously confused, and yes, it was by design that I confused him. I wanted to continue the conversation.  I explained, “Squirrels are a security system to the woods.” They alert the woods to predators with a very loud obnoxious chirping and for lack of better term, their howl. Man is considered a predator. If you walk the woods so slowly they do not react you are walking slow enough to see animals.
I continued by telling him the story of two bears I saw several years past. I was spending the afternoon walking the woods about 2 miles from my home. This walk had purpose, to see critters. Now to see these critters, and watch them, walking slowly is the best way, slow, slow, slow, and slow. Again I was attempting to walk so slowly, the squirrels wouldn’t notice. I was hoping to see and watch deer, coyote, even bear, with out them noticing me.
I got onto a game trail and started following to the wetland in that area, looking behind me on occasion, deer have caught up to me in the past. Making sure I stepped on no twigs or branches, not even crackly leaves, the squirrels started their chatter 2 to 3 hundred yards ahead of me. I did not understand it, why were they hollering at me? Walking towards those bratty squirrels I soon found large stones turned over and old rotted logs shredded. I immediately knew there was a bear through here, and I decided it was there last night. After twenty minutes(less then 75’ of walking) I came upon a pile of bear scat, to big to be anything else, I thought, than a big bear. I put my hand over top of it – not touching, yuck – to feel for any heat coming from it to help confirm them thought it was through the night before. No heat coming from it confirmed my thoughts, it was through last night. This was way cool, almost as good as seeing the bear. So after this evidence I decide not to worry concerning the bear.
After walking a bit more than an hour I crossed a small stream, and broke very slowly through some thick underbrush. To my right I saw a black shadow, my pulse quickened before I saw it was what I thought, a bear. It was about 30 feet away from me, and had no idea I was there. My heart pounding, amazed the bear couldn’t hear my heart, I thought, “To cool”. I saw another black shadow to the left, when the bear had his head down sniffing and munching I slowly turned my head and saw a second black shadow much bigger than the first by far. My heart pounded much louder, and I thought, “Not cool, a momma and a cub.” I stood totally still; the bears were a great motivator. I stayed that way until the slowly grazed there way through the brush out of any view. Slowly backing up, then after I felt some confidence I walked very quickly back to my car. Since then, I listen to the squirrels much better, then the words the woods show. The young man listening then understood, and thanked me.
John Miller is a friend of mine from Reeders, PA. He is a husband, hunter, artist, bus driver, and amazing friend. Currently he has taken up blogging as he is struggling through cancer. Please keep him in your prayers. Prayer for healing, strength and encouragement for both him and his family, and feel free to check out his blog. 

About Jeremiah Dowling

I write poetry and take crazy pictures in an Orange Chair all over the United States while reading amazing books.

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