October is known in Indiana as the optimal time to watch the leaves turn to vibrant warm colors. It’s a month for attending fall festivals, celebrating Oktoberfest, and of course, Halloween. It is also Squirrel Awareness Month, thanks to Greg Bassett, an Illinois resident, who reportedly saw a squirrel motion to him at the Grand Canyon and became a fan of the rodent. In 1995, he founded the Squirrel Lover’s Club, an international organization that has memberships in the thousands. This became the foundation for Squirrel Awareness Week, which then blossomed into Squirrel Awareness Month. Bassett has since passed, but his legacy lives on.

I’ve personally seen a lot of squirrels lately, busy burying their stashes of acorns for winter. The rodents are considered pests by some, as they can nest in attics, infiltrate vegetable gardens, and perform acrobatics to get into birdfeeders. Yet squirrels are truly remarkable, with redeeming qualities. They are an important part of restoring the forest areas, for when they bury seeds, they often lose track of them. Their action of digging holes in the soil helps aerate it, which is beneficial to tree roots. They are clever creatures, often pretending to bury nuts to throw off any potential thieves.

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