Yes, Squirrel Appreciation Day’s a thing. I saw it on Twitter–it must be true. The number one reason we have Internet is to discover all those things we never knew were critical to life. The second reason is to dumb our reading down to fourth or fifth grade levels so we can relax our brains.
In honor of my Dad who loves squirrels like Bill Murray loves groundhogs, I’m posting a few squirrel memories.
Squirrels eating my house.
Everyone said I was crazy. “I don’t hear anything!” I heard something in the walls when I got up at 5AM and when I cooked dinner at 5 or 6PM.
“You’re crazy!” That’s what they said until they saw the squirrels eating their way into the side of the house. If I hadn’t been so astute, they might’ve eaten the wires or clear through the sheetrock.
I wasn’t imagining things–turns out squirrels get ready for work like the rest of us–they scurry around in the morning, collect nuts, and come back after dinner–times when I was the only one home.
I called the guy. “How much will it take to get them out of my walls?”
“Could be $200…or $2000… can’t be sure… We trap ’em and release them humanely.”
I recalled my dad doing the same thing when I was younger–trapping squirrels and releasing them at the lake a mile or two down the road. Those same squirrels came back time and time again in double-decker caravans like a Hollywood bus tours pointing out the stars. One even came into the house, running around like a nut.
Dad chased him in circles. I opened the door and let him out. The squirrel went back to the caravan and laughed at the show.
I didn’t use the squirrel guy. That was too big a budget window for a broke teacher. I used “the sniper.”
Sometimes, life is more like Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” than Polyanna’s rose-colored glasses. When the squirrels ate through the side of the house, I declared war.
After I declared war, the squirrels were suddenly gone.
“Make them go away,” I said.
Soon, there were fewer squirrels and more garden soil bags in the trash.
Don’t ask too many questions in Rhode Island.
Just smile and go your own way.
A note on city squirrels…
That was in the city. Now, I’m in the country, where the squirrel-coyote balance is much more appropriate.
City squirrels taunt large dogs and take over neighborhoods. They make gangs look soft. One morning, I stood outside in my yard watching squirrels as the sun rose over the bay–I liked squirrels until they ate my house. There seemed to be a lot so I counted. 19. 21. 23… or was that one moving twice?
In either case, it was 18-20 more squirrels than a city lot could hold.
One afternoon, my neighbor was fixing his car and a peanut butter jar I recycled fell out of the squirrel nest in the tree and knocked him on the head. Two squirrels sat on the branch and laughed. Recycling’s a dangerous thing in times of war.
How Declan saved a squirrel’s life…
Even though they were the enemy, Declan saved a squirrel’s life. A hawk swooped by, buzzing the boy’s head. I ran toward Declan. He was little and hawks have been known to pick up small children. It wasn’t the boy the bird was attacking, though. There was a squirrel two feet behind him.
Declan screamed as the bird snatched the squirrel. The hawk startled, dropping the rodent from six feet in the air. The squirrel bounced twice, played dead, shook his head and ran into the peanut butter tree.
I’m not sure if it was my imagination, but from that time on, the squirrels were just a little bit nicer. They ate fewer of my garden tomatoes, dropped fewer jars on heads, and stopped beating on the dog.
We had a cease-fire. Out of appreciation, they moved away.
I wasn’t sure.. though there were fewer squirrel cousins in the yard, there were more garden soil bags filling the trash.
This is Rhode Island… the land of many mysteries.
We don’t ask questions.
We just smile and go on our way.
[Photo credit: Wikipedia, Eastern Grey Tree Squirrel–the house-eating variety]