Gray Squirrel
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16” x 24”, acrylic, 1981
The gray squirrel likes the hardwood forest. This provides him with trees for shelter and escape as well as seeds and nuts for his menu. One of his favourite trees is the American beech. It is a large, well-branched tree with leaves that are residual for nest building. But best of all, it usually produces an abundant harvest of sharp-cornered beechnuts. These are gathered by the squirrel and often stored or buried. The burying seems less productive for the squirrel than for the tree. Often the squirrel forgets his hiding place, and 'presto' there's another beech tree planted to perpetuate the species.

Beech trees are also a favourite of mine. I find the elephant skin bark a world of textures. I look upon a small section of the trunk as if it were a whole landscape of cliffs and valleys. I also like the way it echoes the colours and textures of the squirrel itself. Naturalists may recognize the beechdrops, a tiny brownish plant that grows only in the chemical environment provided by beech roots.