Euthanising Squirrels?

The Head's Study

A wonderfully helpful webinar on Friday about lessons learnt from online learning left me with an over-arching image: one speaker’s desire to euthanise his local squirrels.

During the first lockdown, squirrels had gnawed through his fibre connection leaving him without WiFi for 48 hours - frustrating in usual times; incapacitating when trying to deliver and support hundreds of children’s online learning.

With Cambridge House once more overflowing with family accessing and delivering on-line lessons, university exams and lectures, the kitchen is one of the more popular ‘work zones’. For my sons, proximity to food is important. For me, the antics of squirrels in the branches of the sprawling chestnut trees that border the astroturf is a reminder to look away from my screen and rest my eyes, whilst also lifting my spirits.

Trees have been on my mind this Christmas as I settled to read a Book Club tome I had not conquered during term time – Richard Powers’ Pulitzer prize-winning ‘The Overstory’. Through connecting nine people’s narratives with the natural world, each drawn to trees in varying ways, it teaches us about the interdependence of trees and humans, changing the way we take so much about trees for granted. It is a call to arms, a reminder of the incredible power of nature but also our responsibility to protect it.

This week’s felling of the ‘Happy Man Tree’ in Hackney to make way for flats, echoed the destruction of the Cubbington Pear Tree in Warwick last October to make way for HS2. Both trees had been named Tree of the Year by the Woodland Trust in previous years. Progress is important, but ‘The Overstory’ is a timely reminder that we must tread gently and intelligently with the future in mind.

In contrast, it was reassuring this year to see the perennials ‘Dry January’ and ‘Veganuary’ being joined by ‘Regenuary’, a resolution about eating foods that are local, seasonal and farmed using regenerative methods,

I hope that as we return to our close-knit units during this third lockdown and hopefully spend more time outside as well, that nature will once more provide its all-important salve to mind, body and spirit for us all. And rather than culling our local fluffy tailed rodents, let us hope that the Mast Year I wrote about last term provides them with such an abundance of nuts and seeds that fibre cables become a culinary irrelevance.