It's not about the house.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Squirrels, Incorporated

Remember this? 

I came home and found this interesting installation on my windowsill a couple months ago, and everyone but me knew what it was. Everyone but me knew it meant that Johnny’d decided to plant potatoes (I don't know what to say about the onion), but first he had to leave them on the windowsill in an egg carton for a while to, I don’t know, give me a chance to make an obscure Sesame Street reference on this here blog.

No, seriously, it’s called “chitting” I guess – which I gather is an old-fashioned word for “sprouting potatoes” – and apparently the next step in the time-honored process is to put one or two of them in the ground and leave the rest just lying around to make the yard look nice and pretty and generally be a bother to your wife.  

And yes, for those of you who might remember it, that in the upper left is our old friend the mother in the jar. I got him to take it out of the house when it began to stink, but haven't been able to convince him to get him to toss it altogether. By now it's been rained in, caterpillar-pooped in, and probably peed in by something or other, yet still it's out there, still thought of as too good to throw away. Ah well. At least the whole mess is outside. I’d hate to think what my back porch would smell like if it was all still on the windowsill.  

Now, Johnny feeds the squirrels. He always has, everywhere we’ve lived. Doesn’t buy special food for them or anything, but apples that go squashy, cookies that go stale, homemade bread that for whatever reason didn’t rise. Give it to the squirrels! 

Of course, other creatures started to catch on, so we started feeding them as well. Skunks like mushrooms, raccoons are fond of moldy cheese, ravens are mad for meat scraps, and seagulls will eat anything at all. And when we started noticing stray cats out there fighting for their share of slightly rancid chicken soup, I bought a big bag of Wal-Mart cheap food and stuck an old ceramic bowl under the porch. We are one hungry pushmi-pullyu away from Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, I swear to god. 

(Although that prior paragraph is not 100% true. I had to stop feeding the cats in the summertime, for example, because the skunks were eating that food, too, and getting a little bit too comfortable under the porch. And, well, this past winter I might have bought a bag of birdseed – but only because the starlings were sucking down the spongy Jammie Dodgers as fast as we could put them out, and the poor squirrels were starving. Okay and I might have also bought a bag or two of roasted peanuts to put out for the starving squirrels, in another attempt to foil the flying rats. Starlings are too dumb, I figured, to be able to remove a peanut from its shell. And I was right. But ravens aren’t. Ravens will hold three peanuts in their mouths, fly up to a tree, and open them one by one. It’s hard to stay mad at a display of ingenuity like that, though. So okay, when I say "one or two" bags of peanuts, it might have been more like three or four.) 

Anyway, lately, I suppose we’ve been remiss. The squirrels are happily breeding away as if they’re still living in boon times – I actually saw them doing it right outside my kitchen window, and every day another one heads up a different tree with a great big mouthful of nest – but we’ve been eating our cookies before they go stale, making fresh salads with all our old fruit, and just generally muddling through with tighter belts. And the squirrels, apparently, are getting pissed.  

I know, because look what I found on the railing yesterday: 

And this on the one that's opposite: 

Johnny’s chitting potatoes! Not just robbed and eaten, but robbed, dragged to an obvious spot by the back door, half-eaten, and left there for us to see.  

What’s next? Notes saying "Those are lovely apple trees; I'd hate to see anything happen to them"? Or will we wake up to find wee little horsefly heads left on our pillows?

Whoops! Gotta go! I think I hear an apple going squashy in the other room...


Sashimi said...

:-) Thanx for chasing away my monday morning blues.

Speaking of "birdy" ingenuity, I saw this when in Assam (place on the eastern extreme of India), where it rains a lot. The local mynahs do the neatest thing possible with plastic bags - they use it as a roof for the nest!

Somehow, never been able to think of plastic as "eco-unfriendly" since then!

HPH said...

Oh No! Squirrels are just rats with bushy tails that make us stupid humans think they are cute. They are Destructive with a capital F, D. I feed the birds because they eat bugs and sing and look cute. I have a bat house because they eat a gagillion times their weight in mosquites every single night. Mr. Toad also eats bugs and entertains my dogs. Squirrels are not beneficial in any way and they do not eat bugs. They eat through the soffit on my house and climb into my attic and have major soccer tournaments across the ceilings early in the morning. The player squirrels run and roll large, heavy nuts back and forth. The cheerleader squirrels chirp and jump up and down. Then they have post-game coitus, smoke a cigarette, and go out for breakfast.

Anonymous said...

I don't have squirrels here, but yours seem to be getting bold. Don't leave any weapons lying around.

ege said...

Sashimi -- Why, thank YOU for reading it! And as far as those mynah birds are concerned: I always knew there was a reason I shouldn't bother to recycle!

HPH -- I know, I know. Something has definitely been pooping in our attic -- and Johnny swears inside out and sideways that it wasn't him. But ah my foes (and oh my friends), they're just such a delight!

12 -- We had a few Ozzie girls staying with us a hundred years ago, and on our way back from the airport they were all like "What is it!? What is it!? What is it!?" When we finally figured out that "it" was a squirrel, we were all like "Um, don't you have koala bears and kangaroos where you come from?" But you are absolutely right. Ours are getting bold. So I have now gone in the backyard and retrieved the chainsaw. (Also -- sorry HPH -- thrown out a couple week-old grinder rolls.)