Gaskell House Blogs

Squirrel Knutsford and the Winter Bedding

16th December 2019
in blogsNnews, Garden, Gaskell House Blogs

Squirrel Knutsford felt he lived a good life. He had a drey in the roof of a warm block of flats on Plymouth Grove. From there it was just a small leap to the branches of a tree, a scramble down the trunk, a scamper across a patch of grass and he was at the wall that surrounded the garden. Just a brief run along this and he was at another tree, and another, so close together that he could leap from one branch to another.  

He had heard stories from his grandfather or was it his grandfather’s father, of a time when there were more trees in the garden and the grass was rough and uncut and there were no human cars.  

His mother had told him stories of when big human machines came into the garden and dug up the soil and the carefully buried hazelnuts. Men in yellow hats and brown and yellow boots put their flat buildings on the grass and cut down some of the trees.

But then the men in yellow hats and brown and yellow boots and the flat buildings went away and grass grew again and earth came back to the garden. Other men and women put small bushes and trees in the earth and there was space again to bury nuts and fruit. 

Timeless stories were also told of when the family dreys were in branches high above the ground and the wall ran around a bigger garden and the trees and bushes gave free running to squirrels and there were nuts and fruit for the taking. They told also of times of dark skies and cinders when the nuts were covered with grey ash and dirty, smokey fog hid the tops of the trees.  

Squirrel Knutsford’s fondest memory was of a time when the men and women buried tasty bulbs in pots. The soil was loose and the tasty bulbs could be reached with hardly a scrabble. Squirrel Knutsford liked the men and women that buried tasty bulbs for him to eat. 

But then they started to trick him by burying wire fencing on top of the bulbs and covering it with earth. His paws could not get down to the tasty bulbs. He thought that maybe the times of dark skies were to come again. 

One day, when the warm days were coming to an end, after a night when his drey felt very cold and he needed to curl up tight, Squirrel Knutsford realised he needed more bedding for the winter. Then he saw that the men and women were being kind to him again and had left him a gift. Laid across the glass of a box the men and women had filled with plants in pots, was a large white piece of fabric. Squirrel Knutsford knew that the men and women liked to protect their plants but he thought that maybe this fabric was left for him to make his drey warm and cosy. Just as they used to leave juicy bulb for him in the pots. The fabric was light and he could easily hold it in his teeth and scamper towards the wall. A little bit of effort and he could get it up to the roof of the flats and into his drey. 

But then a car drove down the drive. The car door opened and out stepped a women who shouted “No” at him. Squirrel Knutsford dropped the white fabric and ran up the nearest tree. The piece of fabric had been just another trick by the men and women. Just like the buried wire fencing. 

But he still had his drey in the roof of a warm block of flats and there were trees all around. He lived a good life. 

Mr McGregor’s (volunteer) under-gardener

a whispering of leaves and perfume of flowers always pervaded the rooms

Charlotte Brontë, on visiting 84 Plymouth Grove