Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On August 14th, 2012, the 56th day of summer, Chipmunk is hiding acorns in his burrows. On the day of the Chipmunk, do you realize Chip has sired two broods of five munks since spring? Think of that as you plan the next 37 days of summer.

I had to wait a hour to leave work. As storm passed over Norton Shores, and I was following its snake slithering progress on the Weather Underground. For the most part, Weather Underground has helped me avoid cloud bursts on my cycle into work. It was still raining lightly when I left work, and I could see the skies lightening to the west. By the time I had finished a PBR at the rail of Naughty's Pub and Grill, the sky had cleared entirely. On the way to Naughty's, a NAUTICAL bar, I cycled through the woodlot I have grown to like. As if on cue, I saw two tawny brown dogs walk on cautious feet onto the railroad tracks. However, these dogs immediately I recognized as white spotted fawns, the size of Key West deer. A woman in her van and I watched them pause and check us out. The two mother does had stood at the forest line watching their progress and watching us. The woman rolled down her window and we talked about how desensitized the deer had become to human presence. When she rolled forward, all four made a dash for the cover of the sassafras thicket.
This morning, I just missed the Harvey bus, which turned the corner of Grand Haven and Airport road just as I was reaching the top of the first hill. I set off happily for Henry Road on Airport, enjoying the foggy scene. I heard an industrial hiss, as if an air compressor had released air. And then I skidded to an involuntary stop. As my bike mechanic related to me, my rear tire had a worn tread and the tube wore out too. I rolled it back to Goober's Donuts, and I called Port City Cab. Port City came right away because the dispatcher wanted an apple turnover. I told a joke to every one of the employees. "Despite selling so many turnovers, the employees at Goobers never leave for other work. No turnover!" I don't mind telling cheesy jokes because I like the effect cheesy jokes have on composure. Even the woman from Ohio, eavesdropping, let out a involuntary titter.
I needed a few laughs this morning. I had to drop off my bike at my mechanics house, close by work, and that cost three extra dollars on the meter. Then we had to navigate the resurfacing of Sherman Road and drive through a few subdivisions in the fog, costing another three dollars. My twelve dollar morning cab ride hit 18 dollars. The mechanic, bless his heart, had a spare tire and tube, but the repair has cost me twenty dollars. So I was 38 dollars out of pocket by the time I sat down at my desk this morning.
I turned left on my sand two track, and nature burst into reception for me. The Tom turkey started strutting around the high grass, in a circular path. I wonder if it were his time to watch a nest of eggs. A friend had emailed me she had witnessed a trio of hens and a tom settling down to nest in her backyard, settling down to lay some eggs. The Red Tail Hawk flew over him at the height of ten feet. I could have the hawk with a fishing plug, if I had a fishing pole with me. I wonder now if I had saved the tom's life. The Red Tail Hawk screed once and landed on the tall pole in center of the fenced off field. I didn't see a single animal the remainder of my path through the meadow.
A small grove of oaks stands in the meadow, and I am guessing the tallest, the one in the center, is fifteen years old. The trees grow shorter out to the rim of the grove, so I am wondering if the first tree seeded the outer row. I am wondering if a chipmunk left a few acorns unconsumed in one of his passages. The chipmunk has a system of burrows with multiple exits in case of attack. Some tunnels are intended only for the purpose of storing acorn trash. The chipmunk keeps his den nice and neat. The chipmunk also tricks out his pad with leaves, sticks and rocks.
Some species of chipmunk hoard many nuts in a larder. Some species of chipmunks hoard collections of nuts in scattered hoards. Right now, the acorns are still greenish, and soon, the chipmunks will be loading them underground, where the dirt can turn them into a sprout. When digging those burrows, the chipmunk keeps the entrances a secret by packing out dirt in its mouth pouches. So it takes out a mouthful of dirt and brings in a mouthful on nuts.
Lucky for us and the trees, the chipmunk loves to eat fungus, which it probably spreads around the forest every time in fertilizes the soil, making the chipmunk as helpful as the earthworm. Those fungus react with tree roots, and permit trees to use minerals and nutrients more effectively. Pine trees might not ground on the sand of pine barrens as well if it weren't for symbiotic fungus. The chipmunk serves the forest as gardener by planting and fertilizing.
I haven't seen more than two chipmunks this summer, both sightings in early summer. The chipmunk has industry when it is building its burrow and creating a family. Because it hides in a burrow with some assurance of safety, the chipmunk knows how to sleep. A chipmunk in captivity has the hankering to sleep fifteen hours a day, making it a sleep champion over the household cat. The name Chipmunk has some relation to words from the Odawa and Ojibwe language. Roughly, these Indians called the  chipmunk, "one who descends trees headlong". Chipmunk isn't an old word. The word showed up in a stable spelling around 1830, only 18 decades ago.
I will admit I once went out in the forest with three friends and we shot chipmunks with rifles, twenty-two caliber. I still remember freaking the guys out by shooting one at point blank range. I was seventeen, and thirty one summers later, I can still remember the dead chip with his guts oozing out the clean bullet hole. It was a true Darwin moment because at that range, the ricochet could have bore a hole through my forehead.
Be Chipper:
Captain Art Walk has visited Naughty's for the Scott Sheldon open mike:
Tamias striatus (en:Eastern chipmunk) (fr:Tamia rayé)

30 August 2006

Gilles Gonthier
Tamias striatus

Deutsch: Streifen-Backenhörnchen (Tamias striatus) mit gefüllten Backen im Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area in Quebec, Kanada.
English: Eastern Chipmunk with cheeks filled of food supply, Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, Quebec, Canada.
Français : Tamia rayé avec les bajoues remplies de provisions. Photo prise dans la Réserve nationale de faune du cap Tourmente, au Québec (Canada).
Suomi: Juovamaaorava (Tamias striatus) posket täynnä ruokaa.
8 August 2009
Author  Simon Pierre Barrette, Aka Cephas

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