This past week I’ve been watching squirrels gathering acorns around the church grounds. They’ve been quite busy! As I observed them, I wondered how they know when they’ve gathered enough. Do they know how many they will need during the long winter ahead? Have you ever wondered where they keep them all?
I’ve seen squirrel nests up in the treetops, but it’s doubtful there is even a single acorns inside. The gray squirrels in our area actually bury their cache, one nut at a time. According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, each squirrel can bury up to 1,000 nuts per year! And somehow, they will find a substantial number of them when they are hungry. (And I’m pressed to find where I’ve placed my six pair of reading glasses.)
Arrivals and Departures
I often ponder the amazing timing of God’s creatures — how they know when to gather food, hibernate, and migrate. Do they simply sense the change in season, or are they intricately designed to know when it’s time to gather or go?
By mid-April each year, I am eagerly watching for the hummingbirds to arrive at our feeder. They are so tiny and quick that I often miss their debut. One day I’ll be standing at the window sipping my coffee, and suddenly, there they are! Then again each fall, I await their departure for warmer climates. The feeder stays outside until I am sure they are gone. Then within a few days, I am cheered by the arrival of the Dark-Eyed Juncos, foraging on the ground for seeds. The passing of these two bird species is nearly simultaneous each fall.
Think about the millions of birds and butterflies right now, high above us in the skies, heading to their winter homes. And next year, they will make this trip north again. It’s truly amazing!
On the home front, the vegetable garden is almost finished for the season. I find myself wishing we had planted more squash, but we just didn’t have the extra space this year. We’ve had quite a lengthy dry spell, and everything green is stressed from the ongoing heat. We continue watering our tomatoes, and they are still producing fruit. That will likely continue until the first frost, usually in mid-October.
As we did last year, we plan to let a substantial part of the garden stay in place through the winter months. It provides both food and shelter for our feathered friends. We’ll have a bit more clean-up in the spring, but I don’t mind the delay.
Perhaps like the squirrels, fall is my gathering time too.
This change in seasons brings a blend of heavenly aromas — cinnamon and nutmeg, hot apple crisp and simmering stews. It’s time to dig out the sweaters and blue jeans, and begin decorating my home. Fall is a cozy time of anticipation too, while I await that moment when everyone finds their way back home. My nest — and heart — will be full again.