Barbara F. Dyer: Chitmunk

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 9:45pm

The chipmunk was once called “chitmunk” from the native Ottawa word meaning “red squirrel.” Nothing is any cuter than a chipmunk, unless it’s two chipmunks. Everyone will not agree with me on that.

However when I was a very young child, I thought the fuzzy little thing would make a good pet, so my cat helped me catch one living in our stone wall. I was going to take it in to show my Mother but I know she wouldn't have appreciated it. I took her a garter snake and told her I had found a pretty angle worm. Her reply was, ”It is a snake, and take it out doors, as it does not belong in our kitchen!”

I did not have a chance to show her the cute chipmunk, because no one had told me what sharp teeth they had. It was a very brief encounter and she had her freedom.

I watched one all one summer, trying to get the bird seed (when the squirrels were not looking). It would sit by the hole to the entrance of its tunnel that it had made near my azalea bush. I thought how hard the critter had worked to have his winter supply. But when summer came, my azalea was dead because it also liked the roots for storage. They hibernate in the winter but they are living in the tunnels, which are probably 11 feet long. It is said their sleeping quarters are free of shells, and they have several entrances. Their fat little cheeks have pouches so they can carry seeds, nuts, etc.

In a nearby neighborhood, there are apartments for the elderly. Chipmunks are plentiful and at one place the cute little critters had found a bush or small tree that had fruit they liked, but not the stones inside. So they would eat the fruit and leave the stones on the walk. A friend called to see if I knew who owned a cat that was black, and marked with a white tuxedo and white gloves. He hadn't been around lately to catch their chipmunks. Well, that was “Guy, the Champion Chipmunk Catcher” in the neighborhood, who lived nearby. He soon was back at his job, and the neighbors were happy to see him.

A few times this summer my friendly chipmunk would sit by his entrance and look at me. I figured the squirrels were not letting him have the seed if they could help it. So I went to the bag of bird food and put some near his entrance. He was happy and stored it all. Later someone came to my front door and said, ”A chipmunk was right in front of the door, hoping to come in.” I didn't hear him knock or I would have gotten him more seeds. Maybe I should have a bell installed at the front door and very, very low so it could ring for service.

I have recently fostered a nine-year-old. Lived in a shelter (mostly in a cage) because no one wants to adopt an old lady with arthritis. She is so happy now, eating and spending most of her time sleeping in my lap. She sings loudly as I pat her, talks loudly if her dish is not ready for eating when she feels like it, and watches out my picture windows, wondering what those furry, fuzzy little creatures are out near the bird feeders. She is amused, when awake, with the squirrels, birds and chipmunks. I feel she has decided that life is good, even in old age, now she is being loved and waited upon.

Jada is happy and has given her caregiver (who lost her friend “Shadow” two years ago) happiness in return. What more could we want in life?