In Helena, Montana, we're in that weird early-November period in which temperatures swing like an out-of-control pendulum. The temperature might be somewhere around the mid-twenties at night, but rise to the 60s by around 4 p.m. - only to start falling toward below freezing a few hours later.
Something about these temperature swings makes the solitary red squirrel in my neighborhood act like a truly frantic rodent. I watched him today - the little hyper guy with the bushy tail whose territory apparently consists of my end of the block - as he jerked around like Brownian motion. He'll tight-walk the telephone lines above the alley, then sniff out what might be in the gravel down below. Up one tree. Down another. Along the top of a fence. Nosing among fallen leaves for the remains of oxidized apple crumbs left by deer. Nosing below bushes, looking for remaining seeds. Nosing around for anything he can find.
Soon winter will come. Snow will cover the ground, and I can't imagine how my squirrel will eat. But he will. He's squirreled away food. He'll have the energy for entertaining visiting females, the energy to climb the highest trees to search for any remaining nutrients, and the energy to emerge in spring as bushy-tailed as ever.
I like that little guy.