No matter what the truth may be about your real-life common squirrel, they have a very stable and organized stereotype that has drawn people's interest since the beginning of time. For one, squirrels are perceived as nature's hard workers. They are often used as an example of diligence. This is due to their affinity for saving up nuts for the winter. They are also known for being rather frisky and energetic. Children often see them as friendly and free creatures who love the sun and enjoy romping about as the children themselves would likely wish to do.
Squirrels have been in our imaginations since even ancient times. The ancient Greek referred to the creature by the name σκίουρος (pronounced ski-ou-ros.) The word literally means "shadow-tailed," and I think that is a clever designation if you consider their very peculiar, curly tails. I have used these designations for squirrels in my own fiction which I will discuss more in depth later in this blog.
One of the earliest works of fiction about squirrels was Arthur Scott Bailey's "The Tale of Frisky Squirrel" (published in 1915.) Much of the free and fun-loving aspects of the creature that we are accustomed to were represented in this book. It also portrayed the squirrel as curious and mischievous to a fault. The book was a well-written children's story that should still be read to this day.
A little closer to the present, there was a rather iconic scene in the Disney movie "The Sword in the Stone," where Arthur and Merlin were transformed into squirrels. They were very well drawn into the creature's minuscule universe and were subjected to various trials that squirrels must overcome on a daily basis. The segment was particularly striking when a female squirrel falls in love with Arthur. I encourage you to see the movie to see how it plays out.
Very recently, we had a squirrel movie come out called, "The Nut Job." I thought the movie was just brilliant and even quite relevant in narrative. It inspired me to make my own squirrel story entitled, "God and the Squirrels."
In my own fiction, I recognize these common tropes as valid points of interest. I enjoy that they are hard-workers and religiously do their best to survive. In my unpublished story "Rat," it actually was a religion. They worshiped an entity called The Great Acorn in which provided them with nuts that they must save diligently in order to survive the forth-coming winter.
In another one of my unpublished stories called "Tooth and Tail," I focused more on their duty and team efforts. I portrayed them as calm, collected, and driven to serve society as a whole. I gave them great heroes which represented the paragon of their society and called them Shadow Tails. I named their country Skiouros, and designed the towns and cities around forest life. I have spent this entire year carefully constructing this country as I wish, and someday, I hope there will be others who will appreciate the imagination that went into it.
Before I bring a close to this blog, I will take a short moment to mention a rather overlooked darker side of squirrels. I originally learned about this oddity while reading a Mouse Guard book. A bit shockingly, squirrels are omnivores. That's right, they do not mind eating meat. In fact, they are known to eat baby mice! I did not believe it at first, but there were several videos online that proved it. It makes you wonder what that squirrel is actually thinking while up in that tree. Nuts? Or maybe... something else. Regardless of the truth, the stereotype of nut-eating herbivores are still the most common perception, and I am fine with joining right in on it.
Thank you for reading this blog! If you liked what you saw, type in a comment below, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay squirrely!