Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting Ready for Winter - Laura Gillis

We didn’t see much large wildlife at Mueller State Park this year... I think there were too many camping dogs and the barking kept the wilder things away. I was very interested to see the number and the variety of dogs in the camp this year. My favorites were the dogs and people with the matching vests & jackets. (Are those from the Eddie Bauer Collection????) I don’t really understand dogs in people coats -- don’t they already have their own built-in coats?!

Anyway, the wildlife that we did see was mostly birds and ground squirrels busy getting ready for winter. I really enjoyed watching this Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.

This little guy climbed up in a tree and cut down two pine cones to take to his den. The problem was that the cones were still attached to the end of the branch along with a large clump of needles. Evidently, cones are stored as singles and there is no use for the needles in a ground squirrel pantry. So, that meant that he had to get those cones off of the branch.

He worked and worked on this branch, and being from a pine tree, the branch and the green cones were full of sticky sap. When the sap got too thick on his face or front paws, he would scamper off a few inches and take a dirt bath and get “cleaned” up. It must have been really sticky because he had to stop and bathe quite a bit. He never went very far or took very long to bathe.

It took him between 30 & 45 minutes to get the cones, branches and needles all separated but he finally got the cones in the pantry. Then, he was right back out looking for more. While we were there, a storm came through with rain and hail and snow. It looks like it might be another long winter for the ground squirrels.

ink & watercolor on hemp paper


  1. Laura, what a cute observation, and what a determined squirrel. I am amazed - snow already??

  2. Living in Banff one sees a great deal of little critter readying for the long cold winter. Your illustration of the little ones has captured the business of food shopping.

  3. Great observation. Harvesting is hard work! Love the paper you are using in your book.


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