How many pounds of nuts and seeds do you think a squirrel caches? While the definitive answer is fuzzy (pardon the pun), gray and fox squirrels, the most commonly seen squirrels in our area, probably cache between 50-100 pounds each per year. That's a lot of nuts! They do this by "scatter hoarding" - burying individual nuts all over their territory. Red squirrels are "larder hoarders," burying or covering small collections of nuts in shallow depressions. Some believe squirrels remember where they cache their food, while others believe they sniff out their stores. In fact, they do both, unwittingly providing an important eco-service- uneaten nuts and seeds sprout and grow into future generations of valuable food and habitat for squirrels and others.
September Earth Offerings- hickory nut hulls discarded by busy squirrels re-arranged into patterns. Maybe you'll spot one, or create one, while hiking on the Ice Age Trail.
7:30 am in late September, Cross Plains State Park Segment, Ice Age Trail- The prairie path is narrow and difficult to discern through early fall tangle of native forbs & grasses. Sky-scraping Big Bluestem and Silphium sparkle overhead. I feel small here. A hundred steps into a five-mile hike, I'm soaked- hair hanging in ropes, toes squishing in boots. Baptism by dew. Five miles to go...
Science investigates, visualizes, and arranges via formal taxonomies and methodologies. I work to document less quantitative facets of the natural world as interpreted by human eye, mind, and hand.
Artist and naturalist Michelle Louis has a vigorous curiosity about the natural world. She walks with intention in nature at least 1,200 miles yearly, much of it on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. She makes art documenting her experience along the way and in her studio.