I love squirrels. They are my favourite animal. One of the things I dig about them is that not only are they fluffy little woodland creatures but they are also tenacious things which happen to be quite city savvy. I’ve often said that they are the acrobats of the animal kingdom. Watching them jump across tree limbs meters apart, balance telephone wires and run upside down all with the greatest of ease amuses me to no end.
When I was living in England, I must say, I was very impressed with their squirrel population. Southampton’s parks are full of fluffy, jovial Gray Squirrels. Now, rumour had it that these adorable little animals were in fact a touch on the vicious side as they had run the Red Squirrels out of town. I have never seen a Red Squirrel in real life, but Google images prove to me that they are the cutest variety of the squirrel family. Not sure what the Grays’ beef is with the charming Reds, but I’m sure they have their reasons. Nevertheless, Gray Squirrels are delightful to watch and are so cute it makes my teeth hurt.
See? Reds are the cutest of the squirrel family.
After a year of living amongst these fuzzy Grays with their big bushy tails, I came back to Ontario where the squirrels, admittedly, aren’t quite as adorable. That doesn’t mean, however, that they aren’t still awesome. What they lack in cuteness, they make up for in cunningness. Ontario squirrels tend to be longer, thinner, and faster than England’s round, chubby bundles. We have the sleeker version. Most of the Ontario squirrels I see, particularly in Toronto, are Black Squirrels. Gray Squirrels aren’t uncommon, but they are certainly far out numbered by their darker counterparts.
One of the things that make me exceedingly proud of Toronto, is that this city is home to a small population of White Squirrels. Trinity Bellwoods Park, way down Queen West area, is White Squirrel central. There is a street called White Squirrel Way and a café called White Squirrel Coffee Shop (which does a top notch hot chocolate).
The sad thing is I have not seen these mythical beings in real life. Every time I go to that area, I keep a vigilant eye out for them, but they sure are elusive. I am committing a Saturday this spring/summer to staking out Trinity Bellwoods Park until I see an albino squirrel. Pack a little picnic, bring some peanuts… Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Michael Werner is my photographic hero. He has a series of beautiful White Squirrel photos that truly capture the plucky nature of the little guys and although I’m lacking the 80 bucks for a print, when I win the lottery, I’m totally hitting that up. Marvelous stuff.
Here are some of my favourite from his collection.
I have seen a lot of stunning animal photography in my day, but this airborne critter is by far, undoubtedly, thee best picture of any animal ever.
Phenomenal... how serendipitous is this photo?!