Monday, 2 June 2008
If you visit Cesky Krumlov Castle grounds you might see this little fellow or some of his family. As you can see from photo he has the ear tufts of a red squirrel, which is what he is - a black mutant of the red squirrel (the American black squirrel is a mutant of the grey squirrel).
This one ran up a tree in the walk beside the castle gardens and chattered and clattered at me - very angry that I had disturbed his foraging in the flower beds. I first saw a Czech black squirrel (there are lots of them) in the park that covers the slopes of Petrin Hill in Prague. The black squirrels there were far more cautious than the Krumlov ones and certainly wouldn't have entered into the exchange this one did.
I have a soft spot for squirrels, even though the grey ones in England are little better than rats with tails. When I was a small child (under three) I lived in a flat in the mill house near to a large pond and we often had squirrels come to the bird-table in our garden. I can remember the thrill I felt when my mum pointed them out to me. There were no black squirrels, though, but there was something better than that - a white one, an albino squirrel. It was a beauty.
Then we moved to the local small town. I was very sorry to leave behind the squirrels and the swans that I fed every morning. My mother tried to console me. On my third birthday I was standing at the window of my new bedroom, when I saw them - three or four squirrels playing in the garden. I called for my mother, who told me that the squirrels had come to wish me happy birthday. I was delighted, although sad that the white squirrel hadn't come. The squirrels did not come again.