And now for a funny short story from home:
My mothership has a pet chipmunk. He’s not a pet in the sense that he sits in a cage in the house and runs on a wheel or plows around the living room in a clear plastic ball. He’s an outdoor pet and he lives, for the most part, by his own means.
He popped up five years or so ago, a little brown chipmunk with a racing stripe on its back. My mom found him nosing around her garden. She says he appeared shortly after I moved away. He was nibbling on sunflower seeds and millet in her bird feeders, which explained why her feeders were mysteriously losing seeds within hours of filling them.
Rather than shoo him away, my mothership, the patron saint of woodland creatures, stray cats, one-eyed bunnies, wayward frogs and ailing birds, started filling the feeders with extra seeds and extra millet. And the chipmunk that she had so cleverly named Chippy did not protest.
In the wintertime, when Chippy took refuge under a drainage cap in the garage, my mother would leave him seeds and millet in an old margarine container that he would swiftly horde somewhere dark and warm under the cement foundation of my dad’s large, spotless garage.
For years she’s fed Chippy, watching him from her front picture window as he scampers to and from bird feeders, riling blue jays and cardinals who dare cross his path. He is, without a doubt, the lion king reigning over all critters living in or trespassing through her front yard ecosystem.
She likes it this way. Feels it gives purpose to her plants. She also has a fish pond in the garden, and while fish are fine garden-variety specimens, she needs a little warm blood in the mix.
Often when I call her in the summer, she’s watching Chippy bully his way around daylilies and ferns.
“The birds are getting pissed,” she says. “Chippy doesn’t leave them any seeds. He’s such a pig.”
The chipmunk can do no wrong. He tears up my mom’s garden, buries his loot in her flowerbeds and gnaws on wooden bird feeders in pursuit of more food. Anyone who has ever visited my parent’s house is familiar with the rogue chipmunk.
Last month, my Dad shared with me this twist in the plot:
My father works about six miles from his home, at a tiny tool and die shop in a town called Eden. He’s worked here since he was a teenager and with many of the same guys too. While on his lunch break one day, his coworker Steve pointed out that there was a chipmunk standing by his truck. Real still-like. Frozen almost. Some might say shellshocked.
Actually, according to my dad’s story, what Steve said was:
“Rich! Looks like you brought a chipmunk to work.”
My dad brushed it off at first. Chipmunks are a dime a dozen in Western New York, but knowing my mom’s fascination with Chippy he figured he’d walk out to his truck and take a look.
“I’m telling you,” Steve said, “every time I get close to the thing, it jumps up under your truck somewhere.”
“Well, I’ll be damned if it isn’t Gail’s chipmunk,” he said as he walked out the shop door, followed by a gaggle of men.
Sure enough, under his tires stood a chipmunk with a racing stripe on its back and every time someone approached him, he would scamper under the truck and out of sight.
Undeterred, the men decided to bait him with Cheesy Poofs. Still Chippy would not emerge.
“That chipmunk musta rode to work with me,” my Dad said. “Musta found himself a stable place under the truck. I can’t believe it. Gail’s gonna kill me if it doesn’t get home.”
But there was nothing he could do. The skittish chipmunk would not let them near and the Cheesy Poofs did little to tempt him. So the men, dejected, went back to work.
My dad had resigned himself to the fact that Chippy would eventually find himself a new home; a new garden to ransack. Of course he wanted out of North Collins! A town called Eden was just around the corner! Who could blame the cheeky self-serving rat? After five years of slumming it under a well cap and choking down birdseed, Chippy had caught wind of Eden just six miles away and like any street-smart rodent, he hitched a ride out of town.
On my father’s 10-minute drive home, he brainstormed ways to break the news to my mom. Chippy – like his three daughters – had moved out. Even worse, he had suppressed his appetite in doing so. He had turned his nose to puffed corn snacks in the name of greener pastures. It was indeed a sad day.
But then the unimaginable happened. When my father pulled into the garage and stepped out of his truck, Chippy tore out from under the vehicle, scurried across the cement and wiggled down into the well cap.
My father was dumbstruck. The chipmunk had merely gone for a road trip! Suffered a case of cabin fever and hopped aboard a Ford pickup for a little joy ride. The fearless ‘munk probably saw those Cheesy Poofs and thought he’d died and gone to rodent heaven.
Now. Whether these were Chippy’s intentions, we’ll never know. My mom was quite impressed with the critter’s fortitude and as a result rewarded him handsomely for surviving the adventure with extra millet and extra sunflower seeds.
Since I’m a nut-job about animal spirit guides, I couldn’t help but Google my mom’s chipmunk immediately after hearing this story.
According to this animal totem website, chipmunks, like squirrels, embody the quality of trust. They have little fear of people and are often found in rural areas, city parks and in the wild. Chipmunks are very curious and take the time to explore everything that comes across their path. They are inquisitive, fearless and playful. They do what they want to do in their own time frame. They are quite vocal, often drawing attention to themselves. Chipmunk medicine people will not tolerate being told what to do or when to do it. They make good leaders and spokespersons.
When a chipmunk is twelve weeks old they have the ability to be on their own. The symbolism of the number twelve or the combined numbers of one and two should be studied by those with this totem. Cycles occur regularly in a person’s life and those with chipmunk medicine will often find that changes will occur in their life approximately every twelve weeks or twelve months. Knowing this gives you forewarning and the opportunity for preparedness.
By watching chipmunks, much behavior can be learned. They appear to scamper to and fro always in a hurry to get somewhere. Starting in one direction, circling around and arriving back where they started from. Chipmunk teaches the art of observation and appropriate movement.
Chipmunks have an air of independence and certainty about them. Their inquisitive nature leads them into unexplored territory and their detailed mind leaves no stone unturned. If chipmunk is your totem pay attention to how your energy is being used. Are your thoughts constructive or destructive? Are your fears keeping you from playing and enjoying life? Are you in charge of your life, or have you given your authority over to another?
Chipmunk is the messenger of many realms. If this is your totem you are on your way to self-discovery.
There ya go, Mothership. Your animal spirit guide is making my rooster insecure.
PS. Happy 4th of July! My favorite no-gift-required holiday!