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The Cat, The Chipmunk and the Acorn

Chipmunks. They're everywhere. And acorns all over the lawn. And squirrells. When I was growing up I lived in a home with a backyard that was mostly hill and trees--a tiny forest all to myself and my tiny imagination. And I'd see chipmunks and squirrels, (albeit briefly), scampering about the yard, foraging for acorns, and once I even tried to follow a chipmunk to get a better look, but alas, it is very difficult to keep up with them, even for a spry child as I.
I then discovered cats. When and how, I don't recall, but I pestered my parents until their resolve had waned, and so one day we went in search of my very first kitten that I named Angel. And when she grew big enough to hunt (I should have given her the more appropriate name of Beelzebub) and share with the family her shredded prey by placing it on the patio in front of the sliding door, I was forced into morbid labor as undertaker in charge of carrying and dumping the masticated remains up the lonely, dark forest and into the woods beyond. And so over the many years of this performing this duty, my forest had become to me nothing more than an animal cemetary.

But today whilst walking the dogs and with their keen eyes seeking out these sprightly creatures picking up the acorns in my front lawn under the oak trees, I got to thinking about them. I've seen them whole and alive, and I've seen every part of them inside and out. But I wondered, what the hell is a chipmunk? A rodent? A squirrel? A rodent squirrel? Are squirrels rodents? What the hell is a rodent anyway? So I googled all of this (I mean really, does anyone use anything else?) , and what's cool about google and searching for facts like these is that inevitably it will pull up a hit on wikipedia, and so I used this as my source of information. A quote from wikipedia concerning the chipmunk follows:
The Chipmunk is the common name for any small squirrel-like rodent species of the genus Tamias in the family Sciuridae. Around 25 species fall under this name, mainly in North America, although one species is native to Eurasia.
So this describes, in cold, rational, scientific language what a chipmunk is. But really, this provides no meaning about the nature of these rodents. Further down the article it finally speaks, also in cold language, more about the chipmunk and it's nature, but I decided I should find something more literary, poetic, about these "Tamias in the family Sciuridae" in an endeavor to further understand the chipmunk. It is in things poetic where we come to best understand the nature of its subject as well as the nature of the poet. And as fortune would have it, I found on Famous Poems and Poets The Chipmunk, by Ogden Nash
The Chipmunk by Ogden Nash
My friends all know that I am shy,
But the chipmunk is twice and shy and I.
He moves with flickering indecision
Like stripes across the television.
He's like the shadow of a cloud,
Or Emily Dickinson read aloud.

I think that this poem for me captures the essence, the very nature of the chipmunk and also gives us a glimpse into the artist himself. In fact the very first line, "My friends all know that I am shy...", not only gives us something about the nature of the chipmunk, but it describes me, and perhaps this is why the poem resonates so much with me.

So I think I'll end here, take the dogs for another walk, and see if I can spy the chipmunks with my eyes.

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