By Amos Pomp
Northwestern’s campus houses thousands of students and professors going about their daily business, but what about the wild creatures who also call this place their home? For these four Wildcats, memorable encounters with something furry, something feathery, something swarming, and something smelly brought them closer to our crittery neighbors, whether they liked it or not!
Lily Smith, Sophomore: A Squirrel’s Delight!
Packed as it is with foot traffic every day as students rush to class, the rock doesn’t seem like it would be a good place for a squirrel to chow down on a snack. However, Lily Smith, a dual degree student in Weinberg and Bienen, happened to spot one taking a food break as she wandered by one day. It was nibbling on an ice cream sandwich!
“It was really funny [and] made me happy,” said Smith with regard to the incident. “I felt connected to nature when it happened because I also like ice cream sandwiches.”
Smith tends to take a positive view on the nature surrounding us at NU, except for the skunks. Maybe she would change her mind if she spotted a skunk munching some froyo.
Anna White, Freshman: “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”
Contrary to what the title might imply, this story isn’t about a donkey. Pinning the tail on the donkey is simply the analogy Anna White, a Weinberg student studying Material Sciences and Art History, used to describe blindly trying to wipe bird excrement out of her ponytail.
At the Weinberg barbecue during Wildcat Welcome, White found herself separated from her PA group.
After sitting with another group, she felt a nasty surprise land on her head.
“I thought I felt a raindrop, but it wasn’t,” she said. “The world is a big place, [birds] shouldn’t be poopin’ on people.”
White had to struggle to get the avian waste out of her hair, but decided to think of it as a free protein treatment. She says there shouldn’t be food on the lakefront because it attracts birds, which poop on people.
Bowen Gerould, Junior: “My Only Thought Was to Kill Them”
People generally consider nature’s place to be outdoors, not in, but that changes when a window is left open. Bowen Gerould, a Weinberg student, and his roommate got back to their room in the Sigma Chi house last fall to find that gnats had taken over. They likely hatched in the ivy on the building and entered through the window screen, which was meant to let cool air into the hot room.
“I was repulsed and overwhelmed because they just kept coming and I thought they were laying eggs in my room,” Gerould offered. “I started killing them all with my fingers but there were so many that I had to get a vacuum.”
It’s hard to blame him. Not many people enjoy a swarm of gnats as they try to relax in bed.
Professor Amy Stanley and Sam, First Grade: “He Smelled Like Chemicals”
So many Wildcats live between Sheridan and Ridge that Pratt Ct, just west of the Domino’s on Foster, is basically on campus. It is there, in the backyard of Amy Stanley, a professor of early modern Japanese history in the History Department, that a skunk sprayed her family’s dog this past June. Stanley was home with her two sleeping sons, Sam and Henry, when she let the dog out for a bit.
“[The dog] came in drooling and shaking,” Stanley said. “He smelled like chemicals.”
After bringing him to the bathroom and doing some research, she figured it was probably a skunk, which can cause such a reaction in dogs. She didn’t have hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, or vinegar readily available, so she tried to wash him off with water and went to bed.
“I couldn’t sleep because he smelled terrible,” Stanley said.
The next morning, her kids had to get ready for school.
“Upstairs it didn’t smell like skunk. Downstairs it did,” Sam said. So did the boys, as Henry and Sam went to school smelling like skunk. Stanley rushed to get the appropriate cleaning supplies, and then she aired out the house as much as she could. Needless to say, she felt gross and not at all connected to nature because of the incident. Also, now she has to check for skunks before letting the dog out.