Monday, October 8, 2007

Sciurus vulgaris...

I was reading this article in the NYTimes today, and for the umpteenth time was struck by how little we know of the world outside of us until we are exposed to it.

I grew up with red squirrels. They were ubiquitous, as squirrels are wont to be, and never warranted a second thought. They also changed colours with the seasons, as bunnies in Russia do as well - red in the summer, mostly grey in the winter (the bunnies go from grey or russett to white, in case you are wondering.) If you ask a Russian kid to draw a squirrel, you will get a blazing orange critter with tufts on its ears. They have a long coat and a glorious tail.

Because they don't usually molt until October or November sometime, when there is already snow on the ground, the most striking vision of a squirrel from my childhood is an orange red squirrel in the bright white snow stealing bright red
mountain ash berries.

It never occurred to me that squirrels could be grey all the time, have short fur, or not have any tufts. If you are in the US right now, ask yourself - what do you think of when you think of a squirrel?

And then ask yourself - what would you never see and know for yourself if you did not experience it in another town/ another country/ another continent...

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