A Civilized Squirrel?

Humor in nature is some of the most enjoyable humor in the world. Stand up comedy is funny because the points being made are either true or are extreme opinions through the eyes of a cynicist. Humor in nature is funny because of just that, it is natural; it is a surprise in nature, it is an oxymoron of nature, or it may simply be a “trading places” of the natural and the civilized.

I witnessed a humorous occurrence in nature on my weekly trip to Blick Art Supply a few months ago. Right in front of the Emmanuel College library was this very unique squirrel attempting to transport an almost empty bottle of Silk milk up a tree. At times he was trying to transport it, but at other times he was attempting to force his head into the bottle to consume the remains. I had found myself in an encounter with what seemed to be a civilized squirrel.

Silk the Squirrel’s Struggle

….and his/her continued struggle

The joke was on myself the following morning when I was instructed to create a nest out of weaved wire in my elective class titled Geomatter. I found myself “trading places” with Silk the Squirrel, taking part in the last reason why humor in nature is quite hilarious. I laughed to myself at the thought, turning some heads, but the experience of trading places with the squirrel was worth the humility.

Human Construction of a Nest

After seeing Silk the Squirrel fight to transport this bottle of milk I started to wonder why this squirrel might desire such a thing. Did he wish to replenish himself with a small amount of Calcium, or did he wish to grind the bottle into tiny pieces to be used for insulation in his nest? The second option seemed more likely, not only because I was thinking like an architect, but because that little amount of milk remaining would not be nutritionally sufficient and I would like to believe that squirrels have the amount of brain power to make the same conclusion. This experience of watching Silk the Squirrel possibly strategizing how to construct his nest struck me in a kind of far-out way. As children we were taught about how different animals construct their shelters, and how intelligent they are to know how to do so, but I never thought of this construction as architecture.  Silk was creating a home for himself, also defying our view of a home as a built form of wood, steel, concrete, stucco or any of the many worldly materials, with some sort of roof.  Squirrels can create shelter, but can they create homes?  Do they have the ability to associate a memory to a place, or even contain a memory at all?  Nevertheless, if my thought was true, and Silk the Squirrel was using a very commercial item to create a better insulated home, architecture exists in nature. Since nature in social experience of architecture is keen in the design process, Silk the Squirrel and I are once again, “trading places.”

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