Monday, June 24, 2013


Another story about squirrels...

Last summer I found a really interesting little book called
Dictionary of collective nouns and group terms
by Ivan G. Sparkes.
It is full of obscure collective terms
 that once had a stronger foothold in the English language.
For example, when one had a great amount of pain,
it was referred to as having a "plump" of pain.
Since the term "plump" now describes the fat content of most of us Americans,
I'd say there's little chance of that word being used again to describe lots of pain.

Image from

But I thought of Sparke's little book this morning 
while I was sitting on my deck having morning coffee
 and being the breakfast for a couple of persistent deer flies.
The quiet of the morning was disturbed by the most raucous collection-- 
according to Sparkes, a  dray--
of juvenile squirrels our little woods have ever held at one time.
I counted 8 young squirrels chasing one another 
at top speed up and down just one tree alone.
That's 32 little paws rattling the bark and fanning the leaves
as they skittered up and down and around.

But that was just one tree. 
At the same time, in a couple of other trees, 
there were as many young squirrels pursuing one another.
They sped "lickety-split" as my mom would say.
Round and round and up and down.
Betwixt, between and through.
I counted at least twenty.

And just for a moment I found myself hoping this 
dray of squirrels was going to move on and spread out into my neighbors' trees.
As I've said before, a couple of squirrels--cute.
Two dozen squirrels eating pine cones and birdseed at your backdoor-
that's one dray of squirrels too many.

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