Humor Non-Fiction posted April 10, 2014

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Squirrel Talk

by Spiritual Echo

I am not happy with the squirrel population in my neighbourhood. It's not their right-to-life issues that I challenge, but rather their somewhat arrogant habit of treating me as if I'm the vermin and they the rightful tenants of this property.

This has been a particularly harsh winter and while not often visible, the closest family of these grey nasties lives in a tree adjacent to my bedroom window. Hibernation is a myth. These buggers sit on my window ledge and I often catch them peering at me through the glass. It makes me wish they had more to look at. None-the-less, I'm offended by their peeping Tom antics.

During a severe snow storm in February, I looked up in response to incessant scratching on my roof. There in the middle of my skylight was one member of the disgusting clan trying to break in. Spread-eagled on the plexi-glass, the bugger looked desperate. "Not a chance in hell," I screamed up at him.

Still the look of desperation plucked at a string of guilt in me. It isn't his fault that he is a squirrel. It was just his bad luck to squat near someone not easily seduced by a fuzzy tail. "You're just a rat in disguise," I said as I stomped out of the room, ignoring his desperate pleas for warmth.

I mean, really, did he invite me into his nest when the power went off at Christmas?

I'm not the kind of person that takes responsibility for nature's law of survival of the fittest. I'm blatantly honest in accepting that if I had the same challenges that a squirrel faces, given my lack of physical stamina, I wouldn't have made it through November. Still, no matter how desperate the look on that vermin's face--no way, Jose--no critter from my bush lot knowingly has an invitation into my inner sanctum.

I'm not completely heartless. While I'm not part of that peanut-buying cult that takes some responsibility for the squirrel's winter survival--I don't buy fifty-pound sacks of un-salted peanuts--I have been known to share my bounty. If I detect mould on my bread, I'll toss it out the back door--even feeling a little altruistic about the free penicillin I'm providing. Do you suppose squirrels get the flu?

But nothing can compare to my shot of genius after my near break-in from Clarence, or whatever the bloody squirrel calls himself that seems to like my skylight. I had three magnificent works of art displayed in a rarely used room of my house. In December, in one of my weaker moments, when I actually liked my grandchildren, we made gingerbread houses. Their parents were very clever in avoiding transporting these projects to their own domiciles, convincing the children that grandma would cherish their artistic efforts.

I, in turn, retaliated--with memories playing in my head of my last birthday-- my son convinced his child that grandma loved gnomes. It's a pity that young children can't appreciate sarcasm, but when I compared the ugly piece of plastic to the statue of David, swearing to my darling--sometimes--grandson that it was the best present I ever got, my own son damn near pissed himself laughing. Pay back time.

It was a great ceremony. In fact, I considered calling CNN for coverage, given their latest quality programming. I explained to the children that the squirrels were starving. With great drama, I told them, each of them that they had the power to save lives.

I hummed a hymn as we ceremonially transported the gingerbread houses to the picnic table in my backyard. Henrietta--it sure as hell wasn't Clarence--watched the ceremony from a branch. Pointing to article one in my bag of evidence, I convinced the kids that the look on her face was one of complete gratitude.

In truth, it was disdain. How I understand 'squirrel' is difficult to explain, but I knew she wasn't fooled by my out-of-character charity. I continued the charade. 'Live long and prosper,' I yelled up to the squirrel. The children clapped and I eyed the decorative gum drops and M&Ms and wondered if sugar was equally deadly for squirrels as chocolate is to dogs. I was already planning the burial, certain that my ceremony and rituals would have a life-long effect on the kids.

Henrietta was gracious--God love her--I couldn't even blame her for exhibiting manners as she harvested the gingerbread houses. She had a brilliant understanding of the geography of her world, and as she cracked off a piece of the offering, she chose to consume it on the railing of the deck, giving her a direct view of me sitting on my fat ass in front of the TV.

It seems almost barbaric to think that as she was exhibiting her gratitude, I was encouraging her to eat the decorations. But ah, so is life when two species try to cohabitate in the same space.

I forgot about the tenants until this morning.

Either Henrietta or Clarence had babies. Hell, I don't subscribe to natural laws either. Maybe in the squirrel world the boys have the babies. At any rate, I can't tell them apart. For argument's sake, let's assume it was Henrietta chasing her children around the neighbourhood. I couldn't stop laughing.

If she's only got three babies, she's got a full house of rebellion. There's always the possibility that a fourth and fifth child did what they were told and stayed in the nest. But first one squirlette flipped out of the carefully constructed leaf sack, followed by the second. Mama chased her first child, racing across the fence, squawking and yelling at the youngster that discovered his freedom. She dealt him a mighty blow and sent him scurrying back to home base. Then she took off after the second one. He'd discovered a new trick, leaping and flying over dead space--his personal jungle gym consisted of maples and pine.

Ma, no slacker when it came to athletics, tracked him down, giving the fledgling a mighty swat to the ass. Rebel number one, fully recovered from his discipline, rallied out in another direction and while Mama was chasing down one derelict, a third skittered down the tree and surveyed his new world.

I couldn't help but laugh. I couldn't stop, but I wonder if my sacrificial gingerbread houses gave her enough energy to run these marathons.

It seems that while I was developing communication abilities with these unwanted squatters, the squirrels had learned a thing or two about humans.

Henrietta stopped running. She reared up on her hind legs, threw her paws on her hips and glared at me. I swear she told me to F*** off.

"Yah, really, well I don't think you're cute."

Tragically, no squirrels died this winter.


Relax--all homicide fantasies are only in my head.
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