Thursday, September 30, 2004

Squirrel Evolution

As I was saying before Blogger ate my last post . . . I live out in the country, so I see a lot of squirrels. For years, they’ve been running in front of my car and almost making it safely to the other side of the road before they suddenly stop and dash back in the direction they came from. Sometimes they make it, and sometimes they don’t. But lately I’ve noticed that they don’t stop running anymore, they just keep going. Which makes me wonder if the instinct that makes them go suddenly stupid is being bred out of them, at least around here. Squirrels that keep running will live longer and have more babies, after all. Genetics was never my strong suit, but it makes sense to me. When I mentioned to Livia that I had been pondering this matter, she said, “Why don’t you put it on your blog?” So, for what it’s worth, here it is.

I haven’t posted the past couple of days because I’ve just been sitting and writing and thinking about squirrels (but the less said about that the better . . . oops, too late). I did manage to finish Terrill Lankford’s EARTHQUAKE WEATHER. Aldo and Vince are correct in their comments below: this is a very, very good book. I’ve been on a run of good fiction in recent weeks: Connelly’s Harry Bosch books, Hickam’s World War II novels, and now Lankford, who writes some of the smoothest prose I’ve run across. It makes me glad I have his two earlier novels, so I can go ahead and read them.

Currently I’m delving back into the pulps and reading “Company of the Damned”, a good riverboat novella by Harry F. Olmsted (one of my favorites despite the fact that he farmed out a lot of his work to ghosts) in the October 28, 1939 issue of Street & Smith’s WESTERN STORY. This looks like an excellent issue, with stories by Peter Dawson, Norman A. Fox, and Ryerson Johnson in addition to the Olmsted novella.

I’ve tried not to dwell on my page production recently, but since it’s the end of the month . . . 15 pages today, giving me a total of 379 for September.


Anonymous said...

Apparently the sqirrels in my part of the country haven't caught up with their western cousins, as they still double back and get hit around here. I imagine this method helps with preditors such as hawks but they do need to get a new set instincts for autos and trucks. :o)

Best regards,
Steve Everett

Anonymous said...

James, Given your industrious research of the noble squirrel, and your conclusion that "the instinct that makes them go suddenly stupid is being bred out of them," I can only hope that us humans (or at least me) will someday follow a similar evolutionary curve. Thanks for the optimism. --Steve Mertz

Anonymous said...

Your hypothesis is sound. I've been looking, for years, for the study to be conducted but haven't seen anything yet. I'll let you know when I come across it.