In the years here since I’ve been paying attention, the chipmunks are usually down and gone by mid-October at the latest…. Last year, it was closer to the end of September. This year, with dire predictions by the weatherfolk, little Chipper is still running around, out and about! So I’m discounting those predictions, especially since I haven’t seen a wooly worm yet. Last year’s wooly worms were pure black all over – not one speck of brown. Definitely shouting out warnings about a bad winter. This year….we may luck out.
The Chippers live in the rock walls along the driveway and the organic garden in the back yard. Some old smaller walls are near the street, so I warn these little striped-coats not to go that direction, and to stay on the edges of the driveway. These dry stone Irish walls are one of my favorite parts of this whole wonderful space. These tiny little guys (no longer than my hand, including that perky tail) have an extensive network of tunnels, and are also among the world’s fastest darters. Super quick and very funny. A lot of bang for the entertainment buck.
They avoid confrontations with the birds and squirrels. I have seen them take each other on occasionally, over choice peanuts and other treats spread out on the patio. Seems to be more about alpha-ness than about aggression. I love watching them dart under the collard and kale leaves with any perceived threat – when a crow lands, for instance. Some mornings, they come straight out of the wall and down to the patio, and sometimes they cut through the garden, to scout out the territory first. Zipping here and there, little tails straight up in the air. Great and positive energy. And the cutest creatures in the whole yard.
I am puzzled about a behavior I saw for the first time just a couple of weeks ago. The Chipper was sitting on my back step, busily stuffing oak leaves into her/his mouth, which could clearly be seen to being going right into the cheek pouches. Not food, but oak leaves. Hmmmmm. Three huge leaves disappeared while I was watching. Not chewed but folded and then stuffed. These were carefully regarded and then chosen, obviously having met some criteria of which I was not aware.
I haven’t really seen them stuffing food into those pouches. They take their fair share, but I haven’t seen the squirrels’ seeming greed and rambunctiousness exhibited in these little guys. Perhaps because everyone else, mostly bigger than they are, is out there at the same time, busily meeting their own needs. Perhaps because they know / trust tomorrow will come with more good food. But that leaf stuffing… very interesting! Maybe for nests? Maybe for water protection and keeping things dry in the tunnels and tiny rooms hollowed out in the walls?
I just checked both the Medicine Cards and Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak. No Chippers! Amazing. So I guess I’ll just have to make up my own. And then follow it!
Keynote: Energy and Enthusiasm
Cycle of Power: Spring and Summer
When Chipmunk crosses your path, celebrate the new energy and enthusiasm she brings your way. These perky creatures take care of their own with nests in old stone walls and other places, providing warm and dry retreats. They emerge from winter hibernation on the first warm spring day in early March, darting from here to there as they expectantly scavenge for their first food in months. This positive energy will support you in new ventures, bringing optimism and buoyancy to all endeavors. So make your plans in the dark days of winter, and be ready to get started as the sun returns. It’s nature’s way and Chipmunk’s gift to you.