Thursday, June 21, 2012


 The most amazing aspect of Mom Chip’s life is that she is indeed, alive. We can only estimate that in Chipmunk years, she exceeds 98 of ours. We have seen Willow often, in the last few weeks. We will address Willow’s state another time (she has lost her left earlobe and has various other scars). Mom looks stouter, more matronly, than before, and has lost more than an inch of tail. Worst, perhaps, her left eye is now completely closed, and her right may have a cataract (we are looking into the coverage we have on that with our ophthalmologist, Dr. Sullivan).

 What is truly amazing is her mental map of the back yard. She knows how to get to water and food by following the shadowy guidance of her memory. We watch her move, through a maze of touch, smell, and partial eyesight to gather her needs for the day. When she reaches a certain spot by the drain pipe, she turns left and bounds like a yearling to the ground feeder. When her cheeks are full she reverses the process.

Today was most special. We witnessed her learning ability! We set out a row of peanuts, the first at the entrance to the palace and leading to two pails of seeds turned on their sides and full of seeds. She has, as far as we know, never encountered peanuts before. She left the palace and found the one on her doorstep. Without hesitation, she took it down into the bowels of the palace. She rose to find a second, much larger, peanut. She ran immediately into a problem: she had grasped it in the middle of her jaws. When she approached the entrance of the palace the peanut was TOO LARGE! She pushed, and jammed, until it disappeared.

 From that peanut on, she held it parallel to her jaws! She had no problems getting the remaining nuts into the palace.

She appreciated the peanuts. As a consequence, she left with us a copy of a most important document, The Chipmunks’ Rules of Acquisition.* These are the most sacrosanct rules that keep order (to some degree) in the chipmunk world. It starts with a preamble and than elucidates their greed, uh, creed.

The Chipmunks’ Rules of Acquisition

Whereas wealth is measured in that which grows, a seed is defined as a unit of wealth. This shall include: sunflower seeds (oilers, stripes, whatever), corn, cantaloupe, peanut (there are court cases holding these are not technically seeds, but will await the new election for decision), … (here there are several hundred other seeds mentioned, not germane to our discussion), we, chipmunks, through all our variations and subspecies, claim all as ours. The following rules provide guidance to the young and a reference when there is a controversy between two or more of our kind.

* Similarity to the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition is purely intentional.

  1. Any seed unclaimed is yours.
  2. There is no such thing as “Too many seeds.”
  3. If another chipmunk is distracted, take its seeds.
  4. You’ve got cheeks: fill them.
  5. If your cheeks can’t hold another seed, take at least two more seeds.
  6. Winter is long; don’t let the seeds get short.
  7. Collect seeds every day you can; you will need them sooner than you think.
  8. Don’t name a chipmunk as the executor of your will.
  9. Seed insurance is a certain fraud.
  10. Don’t hide all your seeds in one cache.
  11. Keep your seeds dry and your caches a secret.
  12. Always assume the other chipmunk is as sneaky as you are about seeds.
  13.  Plant a seed today, and you will soon have a whole pod (chipmunks are farmers).
  14. No cache of seeds is so big it can’t hold five more seeds.
  15. A seed in the cheek is worth two under a bush.
  16. Hold your in-laws to the dowry of seeds promised before the wedding.
  17. Never be a lender of seeds; it is however okay to borrow them.
  18. The death of a chipmunk is a sad occasion; finding its seed cache is gladsome.
  19. The Autumn Equinox marks when you must really tend to your seed cache.
  20. The chipmunk that dies with the most seeds wins.

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