More Than One Way to Cross a Creek

The Genius of Squirrels!

One day while paused at the end of my driveway to let a wide truck pass on our narrow lane a movement in the bare winter branches of the trees caught my eye. There, a squirrel was scampering from branch to branch, as they do, in an apparently random pattern.

But, no, it wouldn’t be random, would it — this is winter and wild animals don’t tend to waste energy in winter. I recalled I had watched other squirrels make their way in the upper branches of trees quite deliberately, repeating the pattern, their progress describing a deliberate course.

That’s what this one was doing — following a very complicated, three-dimensional trail through the branches he had discovered and apparently memorized. This squirrel had figured out how to cross a creek following a route that rose up and down, back and forth between branches of various trees that were close enough for him to hop or otherwise pass safely between. If I were to draw it, it might look like this:

Non-linear Squirrel Pathway

Where > = hop.

Watching him I marveled at the complexity and pondered the number of trials and errors he had had to endure to find this elegant path.

The subject then branched exponentially off in a couple of directions for me:

  • Squirrel Intelligence
  • How trees cope with each others’ branches
  • The hidden pathway changes that occur when trees are felled in whatever manner (ice and wind storms, chainsaws, etc)
  • How a lot of what may seem random progress at first may actually be a complicated solution
  • And, of course, the pleasantly obvious: There’s more than one way to cross a creek.

For those of us who may from time to time feel at odds with our non-linear career path it may be Squirrel has demonstrated quite clearly the elegance of unpredictable solutions.

Creative Consideration

See if you can find a squirrel highway yourself, then draw it!

Or look at a photograph of tree branches and trace out your own squirrel pathway amongst them.


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