The crisp autumn air settles heavily around you. Clouds torn and scattered by the wind float gently across a sweet blue sky. Small pockets of green grass are revealed beneath mounds of those familiar fall colors – ruby, soft emerald, dusty brown.
And everywhere you look, squirrels. Legions of them.
Squirrels feverishly building their nests, winding round tree trunks in a flash, hoarding Baldwin scraps and dashing wildly across the street.
Even as the Albion College campus slides slowly into winter, its diverse squirrel population remains a tremendous presence.
On Oct. 27, first-years Paul Johnson and Cameron Clements, Birmingham, had an especially close encounter with one of Albion’s many Sciurus carolinensis in front of Wesley Hall.
Though Johnson had no intention of catching one that afternoon, a medium-sized gray squirrel persistently approached him until it was very near his feet. With Clements’ encouragement, Johnson quickly clutched the rodent.
Recognizing a cinematic opportunity, Clements filmed the capture and uploaded the video to Albion’s Class of 2017 Facebook page.
Collecting 27 likes, the video shows Johnson stooping quickly to gather the squirrel in one hand before walking excitedly towards Clements.
This is Johnson’s second catch. He admires Albion’s enormous variety of squirrel colors and sizes, ranging from the humorously plump to the patchy red-and-white.
Johnson advises aspiring catchers “to be patient and calm around the squirrels so you don’t scare them away.” He remarks the smaller, fatter ones are easiest to retrieve, and “with a little luck you’ll catch your very own pet.”
The squirrel count on campus is an undeniably remarkable one, so great that clubs are often suggested. Kylie Heitman, Holland first-year, says if there were a squirrel-catching group, she “would join for sure.”
*Please note: Though the notion of holding one of these critters is appealing, it’s important to remember they’re wild animals. Handling them demands great care, and squirrel bites may carry rodent plague or tularemia. Albion’s squirrels will thank you for your caution.
Photo courtesy of northrup.org