Crazy squirrels go “ha ha ha!”

“I’m a merry, merry squirrel,
All day I leap and whirl,
Through my home in the old beech-tree;
If you chase me, I will run
In the shade and in the sun,
But you never, never can catch me!
For round a bough I’ll creep,
Playing hide-and-seek so sly,
Or through the leaves bo-peep,
With my little shining eye.
Ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha!”

~By Rev. Norman Macleod, “I’m a merry, merry squirrel” (1867)

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(Illustration by John James Audubon 1821)

Sure they look all cute and furry. But in reality, they are nothing but backyard bullies. They devour our tulip bulbs and bird food, damage our property with their razor-sharp teeth, scare away more desirable wildlife like birds and chipmunks, and taunt us with those beady little eyes.

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Here in Ottawa, their craziness seems to be increasing as they get ready to hibernate for the winter. As if in a drunken stupor (an overindulgence of bulbs?), our local squirrels wage war with me on the street — staring me down or running in circles in the middle of the road as I drive towards them. It is almost impossible not to hit them (though I haven’t yet)  — especially with a child screaming from the backseat:

“Don’t KILL the squirrel mommy!! Did you KILL that adorable little squirrel mommy?”.

By pulling the cute card with our kids, these “adorable” little critters wreak havoc on our streets all the while enjoying millions of dollars of high-grade bird seed in our own backyards. Perhaps they should consider a life in politics?

And I’m not exaggerating. We have some really squirrelly squirrels in my neighbourhood. This summer, it was reported that some frustrated folks were “deporting” squirrels across the border to the province of Quebec. And our “Westboro squirrels” even have there own Twitter account.

No one nation will take credit for this annoying creature. I’ve heard they were imported to Canada from England. But the Brits and the Americans blame Canada for the world-wide proliferation of these beasts.

I have at least some literary evidence that they originated from England. The beautifully bound, The Golden Staircase (1906), contains a funny poem about a squirrel: “I’m a merry, merry squirrel” was written more than a century ago by the English poet Rev. Norman Macleod.

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The poem is best read out loud, using your craziest, squirreliest voice, especially when you get to “ha, ha, ha! ha ha ha!”

“I’m a merry, merry squirrel,
All day I leap and whirl,
Through my home in the old beech-tree;
If you chase me, I will run
In the shade and in the sun,
But you never, never can catch me!
For round a bough I’ll creep,
Playing hide-and-seek so sly,
Or through the leaves bo-peep,
With my little shining eye.
Ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha!

Up and down I run and frisk,
With my bushy tail to whisk
All who mope in the old beech-trees;
How droll to see the owl,
As I make him wink and scowl,
When his sleepy, sleepy head I tease!
And I waken up the bat,
Who flies off with a scream,
For he thinks that I’m the cat
Pouncing on him in his dream.
Ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha!

“Through all the summer long
I never want a song,
From my birds in the old beech-trees;
I have singers all the night,
And, with the morning bright,
Come my busy humming fat brown bees.
When I’ve nothing else to do,
With the nursing birds I sit,
And we laugh at the cuckoo
A-cuckooing to her tit!
Ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha!

“When winter comes with snow,
And its cruel tempests blow
All the leaves from my old beech-trees;
Then beside the wren and mouse
I furnish up a house,
Where like a prince I live at my ease!
What care I for hail or sleet,
With my hairy cap and coat;
And my tail across my feet,
Or wrapp’d about my throat!
Ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha! ha, ha, ha!”

Finally, Squirrels, the movie, is not for the faint of heart…

11 comments

  1. I liked the post, but can’t quite get behind your dislike of our fuzzy friendly squirrels. Since I moved- deeper into the downtown core- I miss seeing them at my window (tormenting the cats). I think I’ll skip watching the movie trailer…

  2. During my entire childhood I heard “don’t get near a squirrel – they have rabies”! I was always on the watch for the weird squirrel – that was the killer squirrel that would be friendly, then crazy, then bite me and ultimately kill me. I have been waiting for this squirrel all my life!

    Elephant

  3. Red Squirrels are English, grey came from the New World, and have gradually decimated the beautiful and tiny little red squirrel which is now only seen in some parts of the North of England..
    . As a book lover I’m sure you know Beatrix Potter’s exquisite little tale of Squirrel Nutkin – a red squirrel!
    Don’t think little Squirrel Nutkin would drive you nuts – they’re shy and delightful…I used to see them lots when I was a child…but no more, thanks to your grey rascals!!!

  4. I agree..back yard bullies indeed! But try to explain that to my Dutch family where the squirrel is so rare that they go high and lo to attract them in their gardens. When they visit me, they watch my ‘back yard bullies’ with binoculars and get all excited….and find my disinterest cruel!
    Great post, should be circulating as an educational program in schools;0) hugs from Ohio!

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