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Hunting was fruitful yesterday — for squirrels

August 14, 2014
squirrel-on-road

Strike a pose. A squirrel tries to hide in plain sight.

Yesterday I thought I had finally found one of Vancouver’s fig trees, near Cambie Street and 16th Avenue (I hadn’t. It was a walnut tree).

I was watching these two squirrels make their way down a wooden utility pole in typical squirrel fashion: Dash, freeze, wait, repeat.

Each of them was putting the bite on a green, crab apple-sized, fruit.

Once they reached the ground each squirrel darted in a different direction and I lost sight of one of them in some bushes.

The other squirrel headed straight towards the trees on the other side of the alley.

Naturally it couldn’t do it in one go. Being a squirrel it had to stop in the middle of the roadway — for safety’s sake.

Of squirrels and acorns and walnuts

acting-squirily-03

The squirrel stood stock still in the middle of the road for over a minute, like some kind of discarded malfunctioning Chia Pet. And when it did make it to the other side of the road and up onto the bark of another tree trunk it stopped again.

Back when British Columbia was still one big forest this instinctive defensive behaviour of moving in fits and starts made perfect sense. Against tree bark the motionless brown squirrel virtually disappears.

acting-squirrily-02

Doing the same stunt on a grey asphalt road or sidewalks isn’t nearly so effective.

Squirrels are what you might call an embedded system. If their behaviour doesn’t take into account the modern reality of roads and cars and concrete it’s because their firmware hasn’t been updated for a very long time.

Maybe squirrels should consider finally switching from the Acorn operating system to something a bit more up-to-date like Linux.

Who gives a fig? Not this walnut tree

squirrel-fruit

Baby walnuts. That’s cool too!

Turned out the two squirrels were using the wooden utility pole to gain access to the higher branches of a particular fruit bearing tree.

The fellow who told me there were fig trees to find in Vancouver saw my photos from yesterday and declared that was a fig tree the two squirrels were raiding.

However, as a commenter points out, my friend was mistaken. That was actually a walnut tree, bearing green walnuts.

Most fig tree leaves appear to have three blades and while there are fig tree varieties that only have single-bladed leaves this wasn’t one of them.

I’ll have to break the news to my friend gently. He actually had fig trees when he lived in Coquitlam,  B.C. That was apparently a long time ago.

He told me that unripe figs were rock hard and so were these green walnuts. The one I tasted was bitter and not the slightest bit good to eat.

Actually I remember thinking as I thoughtfully chewed on a crunchy little sliver of the green-skinned fruit — I remember thinking this was probably how poison fruit tasted.

Just like figs — these walnuts won’t properly be ripe for the picking until the end of August or early September. Click the images to enlarge them.

6 Comments
  1. lobiodaprasi permalink

    That’s not a fig but a walnut tree. Real fig trees can be found all over the place – on the north side of 18th heading towards Cambie away from the tennis courts there’s a huge one.

    • You’re definitely right about that being a walnut tree. I through a variety of “green fruits” but never though about walnuts. I’ll look for the fig tree you’ve mentioned. Thanks.

  2. lobiodaprasi permalink

    Would’ve never thought about it either until I moved to a country where they grow all over the place – never knew there were any walnut trees in Vancouver, and in my old neighbourhood no less. Here in Georgia (the country, not the state) they make a pickle/jam out of the unripe fruit and it goes through a lengthy process to remove the unpleasant stuff: http://georgianrecipes.net/2013/09/10/kaklis-muraba-pickled-walnuts/ so probably better to leave the raw ones alone.
    As for figs, my parents just harvested a big crop and the second one (which usually doesn’t reach maturity in Vancouver) is already starting.
    Thanks for your blog, it’s a little bit of home away from home for me.

    • Thanks for the great link (actually much better than the original post).

      What an involved recipe. Well worth reading. Full of interesting details like the fact that walnut juice is a natural dye.

      Must be interesting to live in a country with no end of culture, history and cuisine. I love Canada but we’re a little short on all three of those things. 🙂

      “Jazz up your Kraft Dinner by adding a can of tuna!”

  3. Cathy permalink

    Is it belong to city or resident? I’m in need of 50 green walnut, but I can’t find it anywhere
    There’s fig tree near my house , but the season is over, the owner harvest over a month ago

    • All the fig trees that I know of are on private property. One tree I had the owners permission — all the others, honestly not (which strangely made the figs taste a bit sweeter. All the nut trees I know of are on city boulevards and those are fair game for everyone.

      Here’s page on foraging green walnuts in Vancouver B.C., which includes a link to a worldwide foraging map called Falling Fruit, which shows where walnuts and stuff are locating in Vancouver & the rest of the world.

      Hope this helps.

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