The Clerk (partly) in the Country

Friday 3rd September 2021

Back with the squirrels

It is 76 weeks since I taped a notice announcing temporary closure of the Lodge because of Covid-19 to the glass panel of the door.  On 31st August the office officially, though cautiously, re-opened.  The hours will be limited at first – just Tuesdays, from 11 until 4 – and we hope visitors will wear masks, but along with July’s lecture in the Tempest Anderson Hall and Garden Party at the Medical Society’s Rooms it marks another step in the welcome return of our usual activities.

Crossing the Gardens I was pleased to see that pathside benches have been put back in place, the ice cream van had a queue of customers, and tourists were happily photographing the squirrels.

As an invasive species Grey Squirrels should be unwelcome but I find it hard not to like them.  In recent times the ones in the Gardens have surely lifted people’s spirits, and they must be many a child’s introduction to a wild animal.

Certainly for me, growing up, one of the treats of a visit to York was seeing the squirrels (and the peacocks of course) in the Museum Gardens.  At that time we never saw them at home, as they moved into this area only within the last twenty or so years and are still not so common as to be a nuisance.  A sighting of “Nutkin” in the garden is always entertaining, whether he is scampering along the top of the fence, tail undulating behind, performing acrobatics from tree to tree, or busily burying nuts in the lawn (which is dotted with little saplings come spring).  Bold and resourceful, he was spotted during a downpour sitting in a bush with his tail held over his head like an umbrella and some years ago got into in a fight with a magpie.  The bird, leaping and plunging, should surely have had the best of it, but the squirrel stood his ground and secured victory at last with a powerful right hook.