Those treks across the Diag each February are grueling for most humans at U-M. But for the campus squirrel, Ann Arbor is indeed a wonderland. And photographer Corey Seeman, director of Kresge Library Services at Michigan Ross, has the pics to prove it. The captions that accompany these images of Seeman’s squirrels come from comments alumni submitted in response to a May 2015 Michigan Today story about our community’s long-running fascination with the campus creature, titled “Just nuts.”
1993 — Human Genome
In 1993, University of Michigan faculty member Francis S. Collins, co-discoverer of the genes for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, and Huntington’s disease, was named to lead the National Institutes of Health Human Genome Project. (Image courtesy of U-M’s Bentley Historical Library.)
Ready for my closeup
Corey Seeman estimates he has taken close to 31,000 images of squirrels, since embracing photography in 2007. “Simply put, they are wonderful,” he says of the U-M variety. “I find them especially expressive and really cute.” When he’s not working as director of library services at Michigan Ross’ Kresge Library, Seeman participates in flickr’s Project 365. He has taken at least one picture every day for nine years.
Michael Orhanen, ’75 — “I lived in the dental fraternity house at 1502 HiIl St. While there, a giant squirrel lived in an oak tree in our back parking lot, and also in a large flowering tree in front of the house. Daily, he could be seen in those trees on two particular long sturdy branches. During the night he would line up his arsenal of chestnuts on those branches, and wait for us to exit the house. Then, when we were within range, he pitched those chestnuts at us until his supply was depleted. He was hilarious.”
Angela Kalsi, ’09 —
“During my senior year, I lived in a gorgeous old house on Ann Street with a number of friends, including an exchange student from Germany. On one of her first days in the house, the German student was taken aback by a squirrel that came within a foot of where we sat on the porch, and she exclaimed, “Is that someone’s pet?” The question seemed absurd, but, of course, at that point, I was completely oblivious to the ubiquitous Ann Arbor squirrels and their utter lack of fear around people. In retrospect, it was a fair question considering how comfortable we were with the squirrels in our yard. It is a moment we still laugh about today.”
Scholars in disguise?
Cathy Bordeau, ’85/’93 — “When my husband first came to the University of Michigan, he noticed a squirrel waiting to cross the street at the light with the other pedestrians and thought, “’Wow, even the squirrels are smart here!’”
Daniel Harrison, ’72/’75 — “While in Library Science school, I worked in the basement of Hatcher Library. We would put peanuts outside the windows for the squirrels. Then we started opening the windows and putting them just inside, on the sills. Soon we were moving the peanuts farther and farther along the ledge inside, so the squirrels had to creep halfway across the room. Then the inevitable happened: one retreating squirrel facing an advancing squirrel on the narrow ledge. Panic ensued. We closed the door, put the books back on the shelves, and closed the window. Permanently.”
Sandy (Plummer) Stroud, ’71 — “I was a music major in voice. Living in Bursley, often I would sing directly to individual squirrels as I walked home and interestingly they appeared to follow me part of the way, enjoying my love!”
David Hall, ’83 — “I spent three wonderful years living in the Law Quad. As a homesick One L, I missed my family and pet dog. Quick to the rescue, I met a very bold, yet friendly, squirrel who also lived in the Quad. He greeted me most days en route to class. I assumed he enjoyed my company but realized that my food handouts may have influenced him. Without exaggeration, his routine was to climb up my leg to get his snacks. Amazing.”
The Squirrel Lady
Dave Brewster, ’73/’78 — “As an under graduate in the early ’70s, ever present and looming over us was the Vietnam War. The Diag was a welcome refuge. While throwing a Frisbee one day, my friend, Ken, missed a throw, scaring a bunch of nearby squirrels being fed, as they often were, by an enigmatic older woman known on campus as the Squirrel Lady. She was not happy with us. But while chastising Ken, she suddenly changed her demeanor and said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, you have to go to Vietnam and die in the war.’ Then she abruptly walked off. Fortunately Ken avoided Vietnam, but to this day I don’t know whether the Squirrel Lady was genuinely empathetic or cleverly vengeful.”
Laura Harlow — “I fed the squirrels for over 15 years outside my fourth-floor Hutchins Hall office window. They loved peanut butter sandwich cookies and it was fascinating to watch them separate the cookie like we do an Oreo cookie to get to the center. One day the wonderful Professor Simpson brought a student to my office to show me his finger, which had been bitten by a squirrel. The professor was concerned about my close relationship with the cute little rodents. Upon seeing the student’s injury, I promptly stated, “’It wasn’t one of my squirrels who bit him!’”
Michael Hackett, ’96 — “I have a photo of myself feeding a squirrel in front of Angell Hall in the mid-1980s, which I used as the basis for an essay in English 125 in 1992. I didn’t realize how long people had been pampering the Sciurus carolinensis annarborus population.”
Jenni Spamer, ’03/’06 — “My favorite memory is of a Diag squirrel who had found the greatest “snack” ever – a whole slice of pizza. The fatty was trying in vain to drag it up a tree. I have always wondered if the squirrel ever abandoned it or just nibbled away until it was light enough to carry.”
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Kate Kuhlman, ’14 — “Dr. Christopher Peterson, a world-renowned positive psychologist and wonderful professor, may he rest in peace, wanted to be reincarnated as a Michigan squirrel. I hope he was.”